Baechu (Napa Cabbage) Kimchi
This traditional Korean condiment of spicy fermented cabbage is made in two phases: The first stage, soaking the cabbage in a salty brine, kills harmful bacteria and draws out the liquid from the cabbage. In the second stage, a spicy paste of Korean-style chile powder, scallions, garlic and ginger is mixed into the cabbage to give it that signature kimchi kick. Adding the paste also starts the second stage of fermentation, in which the natural sugars are converted to lactic acid, preserving the veggies and giving them tangy flavor.
Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Learn more about kimchi here!
- 2 lb napa cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
- 6 tbsp high-quality sea salt (such as Himalayan or Celtic salt) + additional as needed
- 1 tbsp brown rice flour
- 2 tbsp gochugaru (aka Korean chile powder) or seeded and sliced red finger chile peppers (TIP: Adjust the amount of gochugaru to your taste – or use both the chile powder and red chile peppers for a super-spicy kimchi.)
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 small glass jar with lid, sterilized
- 1 1-qt glass jar with lid (4-oz or 8-oz), sterilized
- To a large bowl, add cabbage. In a separate large bowl or 4-cup liquid measure, stir together salt and 4 cups cold water until salt is dissolved. Pour salt mixture over cabbage, pressing firmly on cabbage to submerge in liquid. (NOTE: Don’t worry if there’s not enough liquid to completely cover cabbage; the cabbage will gradually release additional liquid.)
- Arrange a plate over top of cabbage. Fill a small glass jar with water and seal tightly with lid. Place over top of plate, pressing down as necessary to keep cabbage submerged in liquid. Cover with a clean tea towel and let stand at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours.
- In a small saucepan, stir together rice flour and ½ cup water until flour is dissolved. Heat on low and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and gluey but thin enough to pour. (If mixture is too thick, gradually stir in hot water to reach consistency.) Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in gochugaru until a paste forms. Stir in scallions, garlic and ginger.
- Drain cabbage well, pressing out excess liquid. Taste cabbage – if you can’t taste salt, then add an additional 1 to 2 tsp salt to the red paste mixture. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in flour mixture until well combined. Transfer to a 1-qt glass jar, packing tightly and pressing on mixture to release enough liquid to cover, and leaving ½-inch headspace between cabbage mixture and rim of jar. Seal tightly with lid and let ferment at room temperature away from direct sunlight for at least 3 days, loosening lid every 24 hours to relieve pressure and pressing down on cabbage mixture as needed to keep submerged in liquid. Transfer to refrigerator for storage.
- Serving Size 1 tbsp
- Calories 6
- Carbohydrate Content 1 g
- Cholesterol Content 0 mg
- Fat Content 0 g
- Fiber Content 0 g
- Protein Content 1 g
- Saturated Fat Content 0 g
- Sodium Content 74 mg
- Sugar Content 1 g
- Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g