Pogi Kimchi (Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi)

 

I am guest posting again today. (My last post was a guest post at Rasa Malaysia.) This time it’s at Smoky Wok, Easy Asian Homecooking Recipes, authored by Jasmine, who’s not only an amazing blogger, but also a professional food stylist, recipe designer and food photographer. I’ve been a huge admirer of Jasmine’s blog for a long time, and it’s an incredible honor for me to be guest posting on her beautiful blog. Make sure to head over to Smoky Wok (formerly Tastes of Home) to meet Jasmine, who blogs from Malaysia, and check out all her delicious recipes and gorgeous photos as well. She has such a passion for Korean food, and her blog shows a very impressive spread of Korean recipes. I thought a kimchi recipe would be nice to go with her Korean dishes. So, I decided to share my recipe on how to make traditional napa cabbage kimchi, (aka poggi kimchi).

 

I probably don’t need to tell you that kimchi is the best-known Korean dish and Koreans eat kimchi literally everyday with every meal. Kimchi is basically a catch-all Korean term for fermented vegetables. There are hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea. The napa cabbage kimchi is the most common variety. As I mentioned in my kkakdugi recipe, kimchi tastes vary widely, depending on the types, quality, and ratio of the seasoning ingredients. Every household has its own methods. Making better kimchi is a frequent conversation subject when my middle-aged Korean friends get together. Various jeotgal (salted seafood) are used in kimchi for the distinct pungency and depth of flavors and to aid the fermentation process. Saeujeot (salted shrimp) and myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce made with anchovies) are the two that are most commonly used. I usually make kimchi with 5 – 10 cabbages at a time. Why so much? Besides the fact that we Koreans eat kimchi everyday, I am a typical Korean mom who makes a massive amount of kimchi to supply to my grown-up children. Both my mother and mother-in-law did that for us for a long time, so I am definitely continuing the tradition. Also, my family loves every dish made with well-fermented kimchi, such as kimchi jjigae, kimchi mandu, kimchi bibimguksu, kimchi fried rice, kimchi jeon, tofu kimchi, etc. To help you start making kimchi at home, I came up with a recipe using one  napa cabbage. Through this recipe, I hope you’ll find that it’s really not that difficult to make good kimchi at home. Enjoy!

 
Ingredients:
1 large napa cabbage (about 5 to 6 pounds), or 2 small (about 3 pounds each)
1 cup Korean coarse sea salt for making kimchi
5 cups of water

1 pound Korean radish (mu/moo)
1/4 Asian pear (optional)
3 – 4 scallions

Seasonings:

1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder*
(*Mix it with 1/2 cup water, simmer over low heat until it
thickens to a thin paste and cool. Yields about 3 – 4 tablespoons.)
1/2 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes, gochugaru (adjust to your taste)
1/4 cup saeujeot (salted shrimp), finely minced
3 – 4 raw shrimp (about 2 ounces), finely minced or ground
3 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce)
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 cup water

2 large bowls or pots (7 – 8 quarts)
a large colander
kitchen gloves
3/4 – 1 gallon airtight container or jar

Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters. (This step is usually done by cutting the stem end in half only about 3 – 4 inches in. Then, slowly pull apart to separate into two pieces by hand. Do the same for each half to make quarters. Running the knife through all the way would unnecessarily cut off the cabbage leaves.)

In a large bowl, dissolve 1/2 cup of salt in 5 cups of water. Thoroughly bathe each cabbage quarter in the saltwater one at a time, shake off excess water back into the bowl, and then transfer to another bowl. 

Using the other half cup of salt and starting from the outermost leaf, generously sprinkle salt over the thick white part of each leaf (similar to salting a piece of meat). Try to salt all the cabbage quarters with 1/2 cup salt, but you can use a little more if needed. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage quarters. Pour the remaining salt water from the first bowl over the cabbage. Set aside for about 6 – 8 hours, rotating the bottom ones to the top every 2 – 3 hours. 

The cabbages should be ready to be washed when the white parts are easily bendable. Rinse thoroughly 3 times, especially between the white parts of the leaves. Drain well, cut side down.  

Meanwhile, make the glutinous rice paste and cool. Prepare the other seasoning ingredients. Mix all the seasoning ingredients, including the rice paste and water, well. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients in order for the red pepper flakes to dissolve slightly and become pasty.

Cut the radish and optional pear into match sticks (use a mandoline if available). Cut scallions into 1-inch long pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the seasoning mix. Mix well by hand. Taste a little bit. It should be a little too salty to eat as is.Add salt, more salted shrimp or fish sauce, if necessary. If possible, let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flavors meld nicely. 

Cut off the tough stem part from each cabbage quarter, leaving enough to hold the leaves together. Place one cabbage quarter in the bowl with the radish mix. Spread the radish mix over each leaf, one to two tablespoons for large leaves. (Eyeball the stuffing into 4 parts and use one part for each cabbage quarter.) 

Fold the leaf part of the cabbage over toward the stem and nicely wrap with the outermost leaf before placing it, cut side up, in a jar or airtight container. Repeat with the remaining cabbages.Once all the cabbages are in the jar or airtight container, press down hard to remove air pockets. Rinse the bowl that contained the radish mix with 1/2 cup of water and pour over the kimchi. 

Leave it out at room temperature for a full day or two, depending on how fast you want your kimchi to ripe. Then, store in the fridge. Although you can start eating it any time, kimchi needs about two weeks in the fridge to fully develop the flavors. It maintains great flavor and texture for several weeks.

Comments

  1. Hyosun, thanks again for guest-posting over at my blog and also for your extremely kind compliments! Totally made me blush dear :P

  2. absolutely wonderful post. i especially love that first photo with the gorgeous slice of baechu kimchi! by the way, do you use a kimchi refrigerator?

  3. Perfection!

    I have to try making this. Will go in search of napa cabbage here/

  4. Your kimchi looks fantastic! Homemade is always so much better than store-bought. Looking at yours make me want to make some real soon.

    • Absolutely, Biren! Homemade is much better and less expensive. I know you make good kimchi. Hope you’ll try this recipe next time and let me know how you like it. Thanks!

  5. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ve never seen KimChi that is so beautifully styled. Very nice! :)

    ~ ray ~

  6. Mm, I want to make this so badly – but I’ve never seen “glutinous rice powder” Too bad because I have everything else at home already, including the napa cabbage :(

    I wonder if I can find it anywhere…

  7. Wow, I am a little intimidated right now. I would love to try it though!

  8. Sounds incredible with napa cabbage, i bet the flavors are terrific.

  9. I love this post! I thought there were a lot more steps to making kimchi but this looks do-able

    • Thank you, Stephanie! That was one of my goals for this post to show it’s not all that bad, especially when you only make 1 cabbage. Great to see you again!

  10. Hyosun, your kimchi looks like a masterpiece. If you saw my struggle with this traditional cabbage kimchi you would understand why I jumped with joy discovering mak kimchi. I think it’s very difficult to spread the mixture between the leaves and am completely mesmerised by your accomplishment.

    • Sissi – I hope you give it another chance. I am sure it will be better next time. Nothing wrong with mak kimchi. It’s very convenient, but this stuffing method makes kimchi taste much better for some reason. That’s why this tradition version is most popular kimchi in Korea. No pressure though! ha ha.

    • Hyosun, I ma grateful for your encouragement. I will certainly try it once more. If you say it’s more flavoursome, I believe you and since mak kimchi is already quite good, I can only imagine how excellent the real cabbage kimchi is! I have to concentrate and learn to do it.

  11. Ohhhh this is a must keep post. I need to bookmark this (um, I am not sure if I can eat this spicy version but for the sake of your homemade kimchi – who would pass?! heeehee). I have a lot of friends who love kimchi well, including my husband. I have to make this one day and impress everyone with this authentic recipe! =)

    • I have no doubt you will implement this beautifully and impress your husband and friends. Oh I know your mom will be so proud of you as well if you make this next time she visits. Thanks!

  12. My wife and I absolutely love everything about kimchi and you have given us another recipe to try and enjoy. Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. Hi Hyosun,
    i’m from malaysia. I came across your blog from smokywok. Looking at your kimchi just make my mouth water. At the moment i got my kimchi from the supermarket.. i hope one day i can make my own homemade kimchi.

  14. Thank you, blu4sky! Nice to meet you. Hope you make it at home one day. It will be well worth it!

  15. Hi Hyosun,

    This looks great! I’ve tried online kimchi recipes before, but it was difficult to get the taste right compared to other homemade kimchi I’ve had. Hopefully, this one will work for me. =) Would it be okay to refrigerate the kimchi right away or do I need to let it sit out for a day or two?

    Thanks!

    ~ Kathy

    • Thank you, Kathy! It will be good. Just make sure to buy good quality ingredients, especially gochugaru. Leaving it out for a day or two (less in summer time) is generally recommended to help with the fermentation process. But, you can put it in the fridge right away if you want to. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  16. Hello Hyosun!

    Thank you so much for the kind comment on my blog! And thank you so much for this wonderful recipe (as well as your others – they’ve been feeding my Korean food addiction!). I can’t wait to try my kimchi!

    Best,
    Jo

  17. I really want to try this, but I wanted to ask if leaving the shrimp out would ruin the flavor? We don’t eat shellfish, so can’t use things like shrimp, oyster, etc.
    This looks so delicious though!

    • Sonya – You can leave out shrimp and just use a little more fish sauce. It will have a slightly different flavor, but the kimchi will still be delicious. Hope this helps. Thanks!

  18. Anonymous says:

    What type of containers can be used? Glass only or is plastic okay? I’ve only seen recipes using chopped cabbage and always read that it has to be totally submersed under liquid or it will mold.

  19. I made this kimchi and it was amazing! I’ve also made the mandu and all of my friends loved it! I don’t live near my mom anymore, so I don’t get to eat her Korean food and she can’t give me her recipes because she just eyeballs everything. I have loved everything I have made so far and can’t wait to make more of your delicious recipes! Thank you so much!

  20. Oh your kimchi look amazing. I will try to make your version. Last time I cut the cabbage in a bite size pieces, but yours look so good. I still have about two more servings…and I really want to try making with cucumbers since everybody is saying how good it is.

  21. I didn’t set aside for 6-8 hours, just 1 hour, is it ok?

  22. Anonymous says:

    Why does the napa cabbage get soggy when I had soaked it in the salt over 6 hrs?

    • There are several things that can cause cabbages turn soft, including the salt or quality of cabbage, gochugaru or other ingredients. Regarding salt, it’s best to use Korean sea salt specifically packaged for salting cabbages. I’m not sure this helps, but there’s no simple answer without knowing the specific ingredients used.

  23. Hi Hyosun. Thank you for this recipe. I left it out for 3 days before putting it in the fridge, as it is winter at the moment. The salt and spicy flavours are perfect but it isn’t sour. Did the fermentation not happen? Can I do anything to help the flavour (like add vinegar)?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    • Hi Orcinus – Sounds like your kimchi turned out really good. As I said at the end of this post Kimchi needs about 2 weeks to develop the full flavors. It takes longer to become really sour. You can leave it out for a few more days to expedite the process, but it will be better if you just let it slowly ferment over a longer period of time in the fridge. It will become naturally sour, which is how it should be. Thank you very much for using my recipe! Cheers!

    • Hi Hyosun. Thank you for your reply. It really helps. I thought I stopped the fermentation process when I popped the containers into the fridge. Looking forward to the two week mark now :)

      It tastes really good already. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

  24. Channing says:

    I bought a tub of gochujang, before I read this recipe… can I still use it?

    • Hi Channing! You don’t use gochujang for making kimchi, if that’s what you’re asking. You should use Korean red chili pepper flakes (gochugaru)to make authentic kimchi. You can use gochujang for many other recipes on my blog. Hope you find some good gochugaru and make some kimchi. Cheers!

  25. Hi Hyosun. I tried this recipe over the weekend, place it in a container and let it stay in room temperature of 1 day.

    The kimchi seem to emit more water as i see a rise on the water level in the container. Is this the expected behavior? This is my first time doing and everything is right. :)

    Regards,
    Kian Hong

    • Hi Kian – That’s quite normal. The cabbage and radish will release water as they ferment. Just make sure the liquid doesn’t overflow by having some room at the top of the container you’re using. You don’t want to lose the delicious kimchi juice. Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thank you very much for using my recipe!!

  26. I’m in a college microbiology class and our teacher gives us 5 pts if we make a fermented food at home and bring it to class. I made the kimchi using your exact recipe a couple day ago, and three days from now I’ll share it with my class. Thank you for the very clear recipe!

    • Aww that’s totally awesome! A+ in my book. I’m sure your teacher and class will be very impressed. Thanks for choosing my recipe for you cool project. Cheers!

  27. Anonymous says:

    This recipe is so thorough! I am part Korean but did not know too much about Korean food until recently, but this is a great dish to start with!

    • Thank you so much! And welcome to Korean cooking!! Kimchi is not that hard to make. You may also want to check out another kimchi recipe I recently posted. It’s called mak kimchi.

  28. Hi, I am Korean and I love that your recipes are authentic, I just made this and I wanted to thank you! If I want to make more kimchi, do I add more ingredients for each cabbage? thank you so much!!

  29. Hi Hyosun! Your recipes are clean and remind me of my mom’s. :) I love reading your posts. One question I had was why kimchi doesn’t require sterilization of the glass jars like western pickling does? I worry about botulism, which is why I tend to stay away from home pickling (western style).

    • Thank you! I’m glad to hear my recipes remind you of your mom’s. To me, it’s the ultimate compliment. Kimchi is absolutely safe! Here are a couple of articles I think will help you understand the difference between canning and fermenting.

      http://www.wildfermentation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3654

      http://www.yumuniverse.com/2013/06/04/fermented-vegetables-make-your-own-kimchi/

      “Can I get food poisoning from fermented foods?
      Most folks are terrified that aging food outside of refrigeration will give them poisoning like botulism. Botulism is known to us thanks to canning. Our pal Sandor says, “Fermentation is the diametrical opposite of canning. Canning is usually a process of sterilizing foods so that no microorganisms can grow. Heat is used to kill bacteria, Botulism has the distinction of having the highest tolerance to heat, so in a canning situation it is possible to kill all bacteria except the bacteria that produces botulism.” He further explains that canning leaves this bacteria in the ideal anaerobic environment it requires to flourish and reproduce. Fermented foods encourage and cultivate large native populations of beneficial bacteria—this process produces acids, which is basically nature’s “brilliant strategy for food preservation and safety.” This environment is inhospitable to botulism and other food poisoning organisms.”

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I am trying to make this now. I bought two small nappa cabbages that are about 6 lbs in total. I cut them in halves, to 8 pieces. My bowl isnt big enough so I have to put 22 cups of water. Do I put 4 1/2 cups of coarse sea salt?

  31. your kimchee recipe looks divine can’t wait to make it! im making pickled garlic right now manuel jangajji right after that its kimchee time love Korean food and appreciate you bringing us these recipes and taking some of the mystery out of it I happen to be a chef and right now having a culinary journey through Korean food and have visited like seven Korean restaurants its amazing love the banchan and k bbq thanks again

    • Hi Chef Michael! Thanks for your love for Korean food and my blog! I’m honored that you are using my recipes for your Korean cooking. Look forward to hearing more about your culinary journey through Korean food. Cheers!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Hi! I made this again for the second time and this time I used double the recipe. The first time I didn’t use myulchiaekjeot sauce, I used the Viet Huong 3 crabs fish sauce and now I used the myulchiaekjeot sauce that you have in the picture but the myulchiaekjeot sauce gold version from hmart, is that the same?. If I want to make it more salty using myulchiaekjeot sauce, what do I add more of? and how much more do I add for one cabbage that’s 6lbs.?

    • It’s the same thing. It just how some brands label theirs gold.If you’re making it saltier, you can probably add 2 to 3 more tablespoons but start with a little, taste and then add more. If you like more pungency from the fish sauce, you can reduce the saewujeot and use more fish sauce. Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions. So happy to hear you’re making your own kimchi!!

  33. Anonymous says:

    For those who are struggling with using the paste between each leaf, I don’t bother, I just cut the leaves into bites size pieces (2 inches – cut across each leaf) and then mix everything at once in a big bowl, then place the combined cabbage and paste into storage jars or containers and let ferment as noted. This comes out great, and no fuss.

  34. I’ve been your fan for quite a time and finally tried to remake your pogi kimchi. The sauce is great (though no shrimp added), but it’s too salty – I blame the salt, which was italian brand.
    My question is whether sticking radish disks into kimchi might help to dilute the saltiness. Another issue is whether my mistake will inhibit the ripening process (+28 C, so I thought 1 day out of the fridge would be enough – it’s 4 days old already yet fermentation signs are scarce).
    Thank you for your hard work here!

    • Thank you for being a long-time fan! Types of salt make a big difference. I wish there was universal salt everyone could use, but unfortunately that’s not the reality and you just have to adjust the amount depending on your salt.

      Sure adding radishes will help dilute the saltiness. Also add some water. You will have lots of kimchi juice, but that’s never a bad thing since you can use it for so many things. Salty kimchi will ripe slowly, the reason kimchi is made saltier in the Southern regions of Korea, where the weather is warm, to slow down the fermentation process. If you kept at room temperature for 4 days, it should start bubbling up. I’d suggest that you add radishes and water and place it in the fridge and forget about it for a while (2 to 3 weeks at least). Hope this fixes it, but let me know how it goes.

      • I followed your advice quiet diligently (but leaving the water out ), still it helped a lot – it went all bubbly overnight and at present is at full blossom. Salt issues have been therefore succesfully resolved. I am even sorry it won’t really stand a chance to make it towards kimchi jigae ;)
        High time I made a second batch. Can’t really express the scale of my reverence)

        • That’s awesome, Alice! You deserve great tasting kimchi. After a few times making it, you’ll become a kimchi expert.

  35. Thank you so much for your post! My roommate and I used this recipe two weeks ago. I was really excited yesterday to finally open up the container and try the kimchi, but they were sooooo salty. I couldn’t even eat them!

    I thought it could be that after salting the cabbage for releasing the water, I washed them thoroughly for only once, instead of 3 times. Do you think that’s the cause of the problem? I washed them really thoroughly though. Or was it the type of salt we used? We bought coarse salt from H-Mart….

    They have been fermented for two weeks already. Do you think there is still a way to fix the problem? I really don’t want to throw them away since we put so much effort in it!

    • I’m sorry to hear that. You really have to wash the salted cabbage thoroughly 3 times to wash off the lingering salt. If you used coarse salt and the right amount, that had to be the reason, assuming the salt level in the seasoning was right. You can add some water (be generous) to dilute, and if you can get a Korean radish or two next time you go to the store, cut it up and add. It’s not the best time to do this after two weeks, but it would still help. Also, the salt level reduces as the kimchi ferments, so give it a time. You may even want to keep it at room temperature to help expedite the fermentation because salty kimchi takes longer to ferment. Hope this helps, but let me know if you have any questions. So it looks like you’re in the DC area. Do you go to a VA H Mart?

      • Oh something else occurred to me. The napa cabbage are not in season these days and very small and light. Did you use just one? You would have needed to use two cabbages for this recipe to have 5 to 6 pounds. Also, you can cut up the kimchi and mix with a cut-up cabbage or radish (of course do not salt) like mak kimchi (See my mak kimchi here: http://www.koreanbapsang.com/2013/10/mak-kimchi-simple-kimchi.html#.U5TLmFhdVX4). This will be an easier fix.

        • Thank you so much for your responses! Yes – I am in DC area. We went to the H-Mart in Falls Church to get all the ingredients last time. :) I read your “About” page. It looks like you are in this area too! So good to know! :)

          We got a big napa cabbage that weighed about 5 pounds instead of two small ones, so I think it was the washing part that caused the problem. I added some water to the container yesterday and left it on the counter. Hopefully that will help. We were thinking of cooking with the Kimchi without salting the dish. That might help a little bit too. :)

          • Sounds good! Yes, I live in the Fairfax area. I think I should do a meet up with the readers in the area one day. That would be fun. Cheers!

  36. That sounds great! I will totally join. :) Please keep us posted on that!! :D

  37. Hi, I really want to use this recipe , but I don’t eat shrimp. Would it change the taste if I left it out, or is there a substitute I could use?

    • You can leave it out. If you don’t want to use salted shrimp either, then just use more fish sauce. The taste will be a little different but it will still be delicious. Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks for using my recipe!

  38. Myung moon says:

    Thank you for your recipe. I have failed many times making kimchee because I could never get the salt/water/napa ratio right. I made poggi kimchee last week and it was a success! Even my husband approved. BTW do you notice big difference between napa bought in the summer vs. late fall? Should I make any adjustments? Your suggestion would be most appreciated.
    Thank you.

    • Congrats on your successful kimchi! Summer cabbages are smaller and less tasty/sweet, but you really don’t need to make any adjustments. Just try to find good cabbages. It’s really been hit or miss for me around here. Thank you!

  39. Any tips on converting this recipe to vegan?

    • Omit shrimp and fish sauce. You will need to use more salt to season. The stuffing needs to taste slightly too salty to eat as is, so adjust your salt amount based on that. If you have a good Korean soup soy sauce (not regular soy sauce), you can add a little too. And sorry about the late reply. I was on travel.

  40. P.S. Is poggi kimchee the same as baechu kimchi?

    • Generally, baechu kimchi refers to any kimchi made with napa cabbages. Poggi kimchi is the one you make with the halved or quartered cabbages with a stem that holds together the leaves, and makkimchi is the one made with cabbages cut into small pieces. Either one can also be called baechu kimchi.

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