Monday, December 21, 2009

How to Make Your Own Korean Kimchi

When talking about Korean food, the first thing that springs to mind is kimchi. There are a huge variety of dishes that use kimchi e.g. kimchi chigae (stew) and kimchi bokumbap (fried rice). Koreans have kimchi as a side dish for up to 3 meals a day, be it with rice or noodles.

There are various versions of kimchi, the most common being the spicy cabbage variety. Being a big fan of Korean food, I decided to try my hand at making my own kimchi. It is relatively easy to make kimchi but the only drawback is that it is time consuming. When made correctly, homemade kimchi always tastes much better than the ones you get from supermarkets.

A step-by-step guide on how to make Korean kimchi
Preparation time: 30 minutes (+5 hours waiting time)
Cooking time: 10 minutes

2 medium to large sized chinese leaf /napa cabbages
1 cup gochugaru (Korean red chilli pepper powder)
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, minced
1/2 cup of starch/flour
1 cup of fish sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
Plenty of salt

radish, sliced
spring onions

Part 1: Cabbage preparation:
1. Cut the cabbage into half, vertically. If the halves are too big, cut them into quarters.

2. Wash the cabbages by rinsing them in water a few times.
3. Apply generous amounts of salt and rub on all the leaves. As a rule of thumb, more salt should be applied in between the leaves where the stem is. It takes about half a cup of salt for a medium sized cabbage.

4. Set the cabbage aside for about 2 hours. After that, flip the cabbage over and set it aside for another 2 hours. By then the cabbage should be softer and have sort of shrivelled up!

5. Next, wash the cabbages with running water 3-4 times. Wring it dry like you would when you want to dry a piece of cloth.

Part 2: Kimchi paste preparation:
1. Prepare starch water, about 3 cups of water to half a cup of starch/flour. If you want more sauce feel free to add more water and starch.
2. Bring the starch mixture to a boil, while constantly stirring the mixture. This is to avoid the starch clumping up when the water heats up. Once the starch water boils a little, add half a cup of sugar (more if you like it sweet), then turn the stove off.

3. Place the garlic and onions in a large bowl/pot and pour in the paste mixture. (Optional: you can add on many other ingredients such as pears, radish, oysters, spring onions. I decided to add only radish as I did not have the other ingredients and I am not a big fan of oysters.)

4. Add in the gochugaru (red pepper powder) according to taste. Finally add in the fish sauce. Mix the paste well.

Part 3: Getting down and dirty with the kimchi!:1. Spread the paste evenly in between the leaves. Koreans usually use gloves as protection for their hands during this process, as they make quite a large amount of kimchi at once and the spicy chilli paste can have quite the numbing effect on your hands.

This is how we do it

2. Place the seasoned cabbages into a clean and dry (preferably airtight) container. From here on you can choose to put them into the fridge and leave them to ferment outside for a couple of days.

Kimchi as a side dish

As a side dish, kimchi is best eaten fresh, while for kimchi chigae and kimchi fried rice, matured kimchi is better as the sourish taste gives a bit of 'body' to the food.

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  1. look good, come back Malaysia, pls prepare the kimchi for us :)

  2. i thought that my mom is the only one malaysian who make kimchi. hehehe. some people add white carrot. nway,u r so good. congrats! =)

  3. Thanks to The Unc for making this lovely kimchi for us! I never knew how easy it was until I witnessed it with my own eyes.

  4. Where can i get the korean chilli pepper powder? Is it same as the malaysian chilli paste?

  5. Where can i get the korean chilli pepper powder? Is it same as the malaysian chilli paste?

    1. Hi Adilah, you can get it from Korean shops in Ampang or some of the better stocked supermarkets in KL. It's called gochugaru.

  6. WOW! These look so good! Thank you for sharing.


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