Baechu Kimchi (Korean Cabbage, Napa Cabbage, or Chinese Cabbage Kimchi) is probably the most common type of kimchi. This kimchi is made with whole or halved heads of Korean cabbage instead of the cut cabbage seen in many restaurants. The elongated heads have a semi-sweet flavor that goes well with ginger, garlic, and dried red chili peppers.
Kimchi History Note:
Baechu Kimchi was originally made with cabbage and beef stock, or with cabbage preserved in soy bean paste. It wasn’t until after chili peppers were introduced to Korea that the bright red, spicy version of kimchi as it is known today became commonplace. (Baechu kimchi made with gochu [peppers] appeared sometime around 1800 CE)
Making kimchi is not about precise measurements. It’s about taste. Many things can influence the final result, like the taste of the unseasoned cabbage. Some heads of Napa are very sweet so you would add less sweetener (sugar/nashi pear), some are slightly bitter so you would add a little more salt, ginger, daikon, and sweetener to overcome the “bitter”. If you get a strong fish/shrimp paste, you would use less in the recipe. etc. For a stronger flavor, maybe you would add more garlic and use chives instead of green/spring onion. Remember, it’s about taste so use this recipe as a beginning.
Baechu Gimchi, Baechoo kimchee, tongbaechu kimchi, cabbage kimchi, kim-chee, leaf kimchi, whole kimchi, head kimchi.
Korean baechu kimchi
Degree of Difficulty
Degree of Difficulty: Moderately difficult
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 48 hours
2 head napa cabbage (approximately 2 lbs)
1/2 cup salt (for brine)
1/4 small Daikon radish
8 each spring or green onions
1 tablespoon finely ground red chili powder
3 tablespoons coarse ground red chili pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 small nashi pear
2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon shrimp or anchovy paste*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
* If you do not like the somewhat fishy element of kimchi, you can omit this ingredient and increase salt by 1/2 tablespoon.
1. Prepare the Cabbage
Cut the cabbage in half from bottom to top.
Place the cabbage in a large pot or another container big enough to handle the cabbage cut side up. Carefully lift the leaves and salt between them using about 1/2 the salt.
Slowly add water until there is enough to submerge the cabbage.
Add the rest of the salt spread over the cabbage and let sit for at least 4 hours. (overnight is best)
After soaking discard brine then cut the cabbage sections in half from bottom to top and rinse in cold water.
Remove the solid mass at the root end. (A diagonal cut from the inner or heart top of the mass to bottom outer leaf works best)
Slice the cabbage into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
Shred the daikon into a strainer or colander
Rinse 1 time in cold water and drain.
Place in a small bowl and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Set aside until time to mix.
Cut the green/spring onion into roughly 1-inch sections and add to paste, mixing until onion is completely covered.
3. Prepare seasoning paste
Slice the ginger and pear into small pieces and toss in blender.
Add garlic cloves and just enough water to blend into a thick paste.
Pour blended mix into a small mixing bowl, then add all other paste ingredients and mix well
Let stand for about fifteen minutes.
4. Mix the Kimchi
Add the shredded Daikon to the Napa cabbage and lightly toss.
Add the seasoning paste and mix until well spread throughout the cabbage.
Place into a glass mason jar(s), leaving room at the top of the jar to accommodate swelling, and refrigerate.
Depending on your “sour” level, the kimchi will be ready to serve in anywhere from one hour to several days.
Kimchi will swell and create pressure during the fermentation process. It is important to release the pressure every so often to prevent breakage of storage container.
What Else Can You do With Kimchi?
Kimchi Dog: Chop fresh kimchi and use as a topping for assorted “Dogs”
Kimchi Omurice: Fried rice with kimchi, wrapped in an egg sheet.
Kimchi Fried Rice: Fried rice with kimchi. Top with egg.
Kimchi Burger: Chop kimchi and add to ground meat before cooking, or add kimchi as a condiment. Sliced cucumber makes an excellent addition.
Kimchi Jjigae (Kimchi Soup): Spicy soup with kimchi, pork, and tofu.
Dubu Jjigae (Tofu Soup): Spicy soup with tofu as the main ingredient, with pork and some kimchi.