Kimchi – it’s not that scary

Ok, kimchi is a little scary.  Especially if you have childhood memories of your dad bringing it home from the wife of someone at work and it’s the kind that has been hanging around for a really, REALLY long time.  Wow.  I remember it smelling like the worst stuff ever.  How would I ever get over that?!

Cabbage and green onions from the garden.
Cabbage and green onions from the garden.


Now I find myself in the predicament as a … well, let’s just say adult…I’m not discussing age on this blog.  I really like the stuff! Every time I go to Korean bbq with my friends , I

Chili flakes, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce.
Chili flakes, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce.

bogart the kimchi.  I can’t get enough of it and am always asking for refills.  I think because it’s the fresher variety that hasn’t fermented for months on end but still has a touch of that tang.  Yum.  I want to go to my refrigerator and get some now.

I found myself at the end of the winter growing season with a whole bunch of cabbages.  Ok, I use the term “winter” loosely and in a way that those outside of SoCal probably don’t relate to –  as in I can keep growing things all year long, but I just have to change the selection up.  It doesn’t suck living here, I tell you.  Not only did I have all this gorgeous cabbage,

Daikon and green onion!
Daikon and green onion!

I had a huge amount of bunching green onions.   Hmm…cabbage…onions…. If I only had korean chili pepper flakes and daikon, BAM – I could make kimchi!  I’ve never done that before and you all know how I LOOOOOVEE doing and trying new things.

My fabulous chef friend works up towards the area where all the Asian markets are, so she graciously volunteered to pick up the chili flakes and daikon.  I had the rest of the ingredients at home.

Seasoning all mixed waiting the cabbage
Seasoning all mixed waiting the cabbage

I feel kind of bad though, because she still has yet to pick up her reward for  getting the supplies.  Blessed are those who wait for good things, or something like that though right?

Back to the kimchi.  It’s dang easy to make.  Section up the cabbage, soak it in a brine for a few hours, drain, squeeze dry, and mix with all the ingredients. Put in clean jars and refrigerate.  How easy is that, right?  It was even easier using a

All mixed up with the cabbage!
All mixed up with the cabbage!

food processor to dice all the garlic and ginger, and shred the daikon.  Based on all the chili flakes I put in there, I decided to use gloves to mix it.  That just looked dangerous…

After it was all jarred up, it was time to find friends who were bold enough to taste my first attempt kimchi.  Apparently, it wasn’t too hard.  Kimchi gone!   So far, I’ve had it on top of chicken, made kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokumbap), done kimchi pancakes (kimchijeon) which are AMAZINGLY delicious), and had with noodles.

Kimchi all bottle and ready to sit out for a day or two.
Kimchi all bottle and ready to sit out for a day or two.

It’s just good stuff anyway you eat it!











Kimchi fried rice
Kimchi fried rice
Kimchi pancakes - kimchijeon
Kimchi pancakes – kimchijeon
Kimchijeon with sauteed garlicy kale on top!
Kimchijeon with sauteed garlicy kale on top!



Two quarts – I upsized this recipe and adapted it from a few different sources online.

  • 1 large Chinese or Napa Cabbage
  • 1 gallon (4l) water
  • 1/2 cup (100g) coarse salt
  • 1 small head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • one 2-inch (6cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) chili paste or 1/2 cup Korean chili powder
  • 1 bunch green onions, cut into 1-inch (3cm) lengths (use the dark green part, too, except for the tough ends)
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey

1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into 3 sections. Cut away the tough stem chunks.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large container, then submerge the cabbage under the water. Put a plate on top to make sure they stay under water, then let stand for 2 hours.

3. Mix the other ingredients in a very large metal or glass bowl.

4. Drain the cabbage, rinse it, and squeeze it dry.

5. Mix it all up.

6. Pack the kimchi in a clean glass jar large enough to hold it all and cover it tightly. Let stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature.

7. Check the kimchi after 1-2 days. If it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day, when it should be ready.

8. Once it’s fermenting, serve or store in the refrigerator. If you want, add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds over the kimchi for serving.

Storage: Many advise to eat the kimchi within 3 weeks. After that, it can get too fermented.

Kimchi Pancakes (kimchijeon)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1-2 cups of chopped cabbage kimchi (baechu kimchee), depending upon how spicy and crunchy you like your pancake
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Oil for cooking


  1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Check consistency before cooking – batter should be a little bit runnier than American pancake batter, so that the Pa Jun cooks quickly and evenly.
  2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat and coat with a thin layer of oil.
  3. Pour batter to fill pan in a thin layer (about 1/3 of your batter should fill a regular saute pan).
  4. Cook for 3-4 minutes until set and golden brown on bottom.
  5. Turn over with help of spatula or plate (or flip it in the air if you are good at that) and finish by cooking 1-2 more minutes, adding more oil if necessary.


3 thoughts on “Kimchi – it’s not that scary

  1. I have a friend who grows Chinese cabbage and will have lots left over at the end of the year. I intend to use your recipe to make kimchi.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.