Baechu Kimchi Recipe

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We couldn’t create a recipe compilation of fiery kimchis without including a burning kimchi. This is a style of cabbage kimchi made with a thick rice and pepper paste. Traditional kimchis often infuse fish sauce, fermented shrimp, anchovies, or other seafood to integrate not only flavor, but a healthy dose of amino acids. We experimented with a number of bases for the pepper paste, and loved this one: a broth made with Japanese bonito shavings. It gives this kimchi a slight smoky flavor. Plan to soak the cabbage overnight before you begin.

Fermentation Time

Fermentation Type: Lacto
Primary Fermentation: 7 to 14 days
Total Time: 8 to 14 days
Shelf Life: 8 to 12 months refrigerated

Yield: 1/2 gallon.


  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 quarts unchlorinated water
  • 1 head napa cabbage (about 3 pounds), cut in half lengthwise
  • One .176-ounce package shaved bonito flakes (available at Asian markets)
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium to large turnip or daikon, grated
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour)
  • 3/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon chile flakes


  1. In a crock or large bowl, mix the salt and water for the brine and stir to dissolve. Rinse the cabbage halves in cold water, then immerse in the brine solution. Use a plate as a weight to keep the cabbage submerged. Set aside at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours.
  2. Using a colander set over a large bowl, drain the cabbage and reserve the liquid. Chop the cabbage crosswise into pieces 1/2 to 1 inch wide and put them in a large bowl. Note: For a more traditional recipe, keep the cabbage halves whole. If you use this method, see Step 5 for an alternate step.
  3. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Drop in the bonito flakes, and soak according to package instructions.
  4. Meanwhile, add the carrot, scallions, turnip, garlic, and ginger to the cabbage bowl and toss to combine.
  5. When the bonito broth is ready, strain out the flakes and then return the broth to the saucepan. Whisk in the rice flour and bring to a boil, whisking occasionally as it thickens. When the texture is like smooth gravy, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the gochugaru and chile flakes. Let cool to form a pepper paste. Then, combine this pepper paste with the bowl of veggies and cabbage. Note: If you kept the cabbage halves whole, at this step, combine the pepper paste with the bowl of other veggies, and smear the paste in and around each leaf of cabbage before stuffing the cabbage halves into a fermentation vessel.
  6. Pack the kimchi into a gallon canning jar, leaving about 1 inch of headspace. Add enough reserved brine to completely cover the veggies, and discard the remainder. Screw the lid down tightly.
  7. Set the jar aside to ferment, out of direct sunlight, for 7 to 14 days. Check daily to make sure there aren’t carbon dioxide bubbles developing, and that the vegetables are submerged; simply press down as needed. Burp the jar by removing the lid once a day, or more, if the lid is bulging.
  8. On Day 7, start taste-testing the kimchi. You’ll know it’s ready when the flavors have mingled and the pungency is pleasantly fused with acidic tones. However, this ferment benefits from some cool curing time: move it to the refrigerator and let it sit another week to allow the flavors to continue to develop.
  9. Store in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 months.

Note: For a vegan version, replace the bonito broth with 4 tablespoons coconut aminos, mixed with 3/4 cup water.

For more information about Kimchi, check out these articles:

Excerpted from Fiery Ferments © 2017 by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey. Photography © by Lara Ferroni. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Published on Nov 19, 2019


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