Traditional Kimchi Recipe (Easy Whole Napa Cabbage Kimchi –Tongbaechu)

Traditional Kimchi Recipe
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I’d like to share with you my Traditional Kimchi Recipe (Whole Napa Cabbage Kimchi Recipe, also known as Tongbaechu). It will be easy to follow step by step, so you can make your own kimchi at home immediately. Let’s get started!

Traditional Kimchi Recipe (Tongbaechu)

Serves: 16
Prep time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Rest time: 8 hours
Cook time: 5 minutes

For the Napa Cabbage:
2 medium (6 pounds) Napa cabbage, quartered
3/4 cup Korean coarse sea salt, separated
1 gallon water

For the rice paste:
2 cups water
5 tablespoons sweet rice flour

For the kimchi paste:
10 garlic cloves, pureed
1 teaspoon ginger, peeled, pureed
1 medium Korean pear, chopped, pureed
1/2 large onion, chopped, pureed
5 tablespoons anchovy fish sauce2 tablespoons salted shrimp (saeu-jeot)
4 tablespoons Korean plum syrup (maesil chung)
4 stalks scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups Korean white radish, cut into matchstick pieces
2 cups carrots, cut into matchstick pieces
1 1/2 cups Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Traditional Kimchi Instructions

To brine the Napa cabbage:
  • Cut the Napa cabbage into quarters. (If Napa cabbage isn’t available in your areas, you could also replace it with green cabbage.)
  • Rinse the cabbage in running water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, place in 1/4 cup of Korean coarse sea salt. Pour in the water and whisk until dissolved.
  • In a bowl, place in 1/2 cup of the Korean coarse sea salt. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over every layer of the cabbage. Repeat with the rest.
  • Place the cabbage in the salted water. Brine until the white part of the cabbage becomes soft, flexible, and bendable, about 8 hours. (It also depends on the size and freshness of your cabbage. Salt will release the moisture inside the Napa cabbage, so it will stay crunchy for a long time, and it also kills germs.)
  • Rinse the cabbage in running water until all the salt on the surface has been removed about 3 times. Drain it until there is no more excess water.
To make the rice paste:
  • In a saucepan, over low heat, add the water and sweet rice flour (or replace it with all-purpose flour). Constantly stir until the paste becomes sticky and pasty, and bring it to a boil. Let it come to room temperature, for about 20 minutes.
To make the spice and seasoning paste:
  • In a food processor, transfer the garlic, ginger, Korean pear (or replace it with apple), onion, anchovy fish sauce, salted shrimp (or omit it if it isn’t available), and plum extract syrup (or replace it with other types of syrup or honey) inside. Blend until it becomes a paste.
To make the kimchi paste:
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice paste, spice and seasoning paste, and Korean chili pepper flakes (or more or less based on your preference). Whisk. Also transfer in the scallions, Korean radish, and carrot. Mix well.
To make the kimchi:
  • Spread some kimchi paste over every layer of the cabbage, working on one piece at a time, and repeat with the rest.
  • Transfer the kimchi to an airtight container. (I got my kimchi container from H Mart. If you don’t have this extra lid, you could replace it with plastic wrap.) To ferment faster, leave it under room temperature for 1 day. Then place it in the fridge to continue the fermentation from 5 days to 1 month. It depends on how tangy and sour you want your kimchi to be. Continue to chill in the fridge for up to 3 months, or even longer.

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