15 Dec


Kimchi is indisputably Korea’s national dish. When I travelled round South Korea, I’m pretty sure I was served kimchi with every meal – including breakfast.

Kimchi is one of those love/hate foods like Marmite. Personally, I love it, but because it’s sold only in specialty shops in the UK, I don’t eat it as much as I’d like.

That is about to change, as last week, I got the big idea of making it at home. And if it turned out, maybe bestowing it as Christmas presents on some lucky folk…;-) (It did, and I will!)

Actually, I have “made” kimchi once before. It was years ago, when I went home with a Korean-Canadian university friend for the weekend. Her mother was making kimchi, and we were enlisted to help.

Mum spoke no English, but she delivered a steady stream of rapid-fire Korean while chopping and mulching like a dervish. My friend attempted to translate at first, but it was more a case of watch and learn.

I remember being surprised when she dumped in a large handful of fermented baby prawns (I’d assumed it was vegetarian), and genuinely alarmed by the mountain of ground red pepper.

Within half an hour, she’d produced a large vat of neon-red kimchi, which she crammed by the handful into a large ceramic urn, and weighed it down with a round brick. “Kimchi!” she said, peeling off her plastic gloves and nodding decisively, as if she’d imparted everything a wehgukin like myself could possibly need to know on the subject.

It’s taken me twenty-five years to have a go at making kimchi my own. After looking at a number of recipes, I based my version on this one from No Recipes.

(makes 2 good-sized jars)

  • 1 large Napa cabbage (Chinese leaf)
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • half a medium onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • a thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 a nashi pear, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 an apple)
  • 3 Tb salted brine shrimp
  • 3 Tb glutinous rice flour (or cooked short-grain rice)
  • 1 Tb fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 a daikon radish, peeled and grated
  • 6 green onions, cut into 1″ lengths and whites shredded
  • 1/2 cup Korean red chilli flakes (gochugaru) (or more to taste)
  1. Halve and core the cabbage, then cut it crosswise into 2″ pieces. Place it in a large bowl and toss well with the salt. Cover with water and leave to soak for 24 hours. Drain the cabbage and set aside.
  2. In a food processor, blend the onion, garlic, ginger, nashi pear or apple, shrimp, rice flour, fish sauce and sugar into a smooth paste.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the paste, carrot, daikon, green onion and red chilli flakes.


4. Work everything together with your hands until well combined. (I strongly recommend wearing plastic gloves for this job.)


5. Add the cabbage to the bowl and mix again.


6. The kimchi can be eaten at this point, but it is much better to let it ferment in a cool place for a week. I packed mine into sterilised jars and left it in the garage until it started bubbling. (I removed the lids briefly each day to check how it was developing and to prevent too much gas building up.) At this point, I transferred it to the fridge.


12 Responses to “Kimchi”

  1. Adam Garfunkel December 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    So authentic! So delicious!

  2. Yana December 15, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    Andrea, you read my mind, as always!! Believe or not, I bought everything but Korean gochugaru and I was going to make it for Christmas too. How bizarre 🙂
    We also have a Korean-Russian friend who makes excellent Kimchi (in fact, that’s how I first found out about this amazing food!)
    I’ve made Kimchi twice, using different recipes, but I’d like to try your one this time, addition of rice flour and nashi pear (if I can fine one) intrigued me 🙂

    • Andrea December 15, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

      It’s funny how often we are on the same wave length, foodwise…:-) I’ve been really pleased with how the kimchi turned out, and we’ve been getting through it so quickly, I’ve had to make a second batch to give for presents!

      • Yana December 16, 2015 at 9:46 am #

        I’m sure your recipients will be delighted with that! 🙂

      • Andrea December 16, 2015 at 11:09 am #

        As look as I choose the right ones!

  3. Miyang December 15, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    I love kimchi too, but the process in making is quite complex.

    • Andrea December 15, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

      It was I guess, at least in terms of time. But once I did that it came together pretty quickly…

  4. Asian Foodie December 16, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Wow…looks great! We can find kimuchi spice paste at the supermarket in Japan but I must try your recipe. Never been to Korea but looks really authentic style Kimuchi. 😉
    Recently I had really nice Kimuchi dish at the local food restaurant. Will share the story on my blog. Thank you for liking my post!

    • Andrea December 16, 2015 at 11:09 am #

      Thank you! I haven’t seen kimchi paste before, but that sounds like a very good way to go, especially if you don’t want things like half used tubs of pickled brine shrimp in your fridge…;-)

  5. Portia | NourishAndLive December 17, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    Oh my! Definitely gotta try this one! Check out the Asian chicken soup dish I just posted.. Instead of the regular flour noodles, I added in spiralized daikon 🙂 lmk what you think!

    • Andrea December 19, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

      Good idea! I’ve been tempted to get a spirilizer myself…

      • Portia | Nourish and Live December 21, 2015 at 3:22 am #

        You absolutely should go ahead and invest in one! Probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. And it’s a fantastic arm workout 💪 haha!

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