Mak Kimchi (Simple Kimchi)

Good authentic homemade kimchi is much easier than you think. Cut up the cabbage, salt, rinse, and mix with the seasoning! Simple, right? That’s what this mak kimchi (막김치) is about. The Korean word “mak” means “carelessly” or “roughly” (generally used as an adverb). The name mak kimchi suggests this is carelessly (or roughly) made kimchi. All kimchi types are made with care, but the name comes from the shortcut method used to make this kimchicompared to the method used to make traditional kimchi (aka pogi kimchi).  

Pogi kimchi (포기 김치) is made by quartering the napa cabbage heads, salting for many hours, and carefully stuffing each leaf of the quartered cabbages. To serve, the cabbage quarter is cut into bite size pieces. On the other hand, for mak kimchi, the cabbages are roughly chopped up into small pieces before being salted and then tossed together with the seasoning. This method takes less salting and fermentation time. There’s no argument that pogi kimchi has a deeper flavor and better texture because of how it’s prepared. Nevertheless, for something simpler and quicker, Korean cooks turn to mak kimchi. Trust me, it’s still tasty!
When I make mak kimchi, I almost always add some mu (Korean radish) just like how my mother and mother-in-law used to make their kimchi. Not only does kimchitaste more refreshing with the radish, but it’s like having two different kinds of kimchi in one dish. Other than that, my recipe is pretty basic. You can dress it up by adding other ingredients like Korean pear, oysters, garlic chives, glutinous rice paste, etc. If you like lighter tasting kimchi, simply reduce the amounts of red chili pepper flakes, salted shrimp, fish sauce, and/or garlic. 

Ingredients:
2 medium size napa cabbages (about 8 pounds)

1-1/4 cups coarse sea salt (less if using finer salt)
6 cups water

1 Korean radish, mu (about 1-1/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

5 – 7 scallions, roughly chopped

Seasoning:
1 cup gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)   

1/3 cup saeujeot (salted shrimp), finely minced
4 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce)

1/4 cup minced garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon sugar

large bowls (preferably at least 7 – 8 quarts) 
large colanders
kitchen gloves
airtight container(s) or jar(s) – about 1-1/2 gallons. 

Cut the cabbage heads into quarters and remove the core from each quarter. Cut each quarter crosswise into bite sizes (about 1-1/2-inches).



Place the cabbage pieces in a large bowl(s). In a smaller bowl, dissolve 1-1/4 cups of salt in 6 cups of water. Pour over the cabbage. Toss well to wet the cabbage pieces evenly with the salt water. Let stand until the white parts are bendable, about 2 hours, turning the cabbage pieces over occasionally.
Cut the radish into bite sizes (about 1-1/2-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick). Sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt. Toss well. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. Drain. Do not wash.
Mix the chili pepper flakes with the remaining seasoning ingredients along with 1 cup of water.
Rinse the salted cabbage three times and drain to remove excess water.
In a large bowl, add the radish, scallions and seasoning to the salted cabbage. Using a kitchen glove, mix everything well by hand until the cabbage pieces are well coated with the seasoning mix. Place the the kimchi in an airtight container(s) or a jar(s). Rinse the bowl with 1/2 cup of water by swirling around, and pour over the kimchi
Leave the kimchi out at room temperature for half a day to a day, depending on how quickly you want your kimchi to ferment. Then, refrigerate.

Comments

  1. Hi! Question! If you don’t like the salted shrimp do you substitute with more fish sauce? Thanks! Love your website! It has helped me with a lot of dinner ideas!

    • Yes, just add more fish sauce (and salt if needed) to achieve the desired salt level. I’m very happy to be helpful. Thank you so much for using my recipes!

      • But of course we use your recipes, they are utterly superb I must say, and that is being said all the way from Sweden I tell you! Your cooking crosses many borders

        Thank you!

        • You’re welcome! I’m happy to be helpful. Thank YOU so much for the nice words!! It means a lot to me, especially when they are all the way from Sweden.

      • Hi, I dont have white rice paste but I do have white rice flour & brown rice pastry flour, is it used for thickening?my kim chi is made, cant wait to try it! Thank you for an easy recipe!

  2. I have a different question!!! How long can homemade kimchi be stored in the refrigerator?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is the Daikon Radish the same thing as a Korean radish?

    • In general, all white radishes are known as daikon here in America. Daikon is a Japanese name. There are different varieties of white radish. Korean radish is usually rounder, juicier, and crunchier. If you can’t find Korean variety, you can use Japanese daikon. Hope this helps! Thanks for coming by!

  4. hi Hyosun,
    I’m going to make kimchi but i don’t want to use fish sauce and salted shrimp.Because my husband has gout and he shouldn’t eat much salt. here is the question; Does the same flavor of kimchi? Can I make my kimchi for them either way? I’d be very happy if you answer my question. hopefully I can make delicious kimchi!

    • Hi Rose – You can make kimchi without fish sauce and salted shrimp. It will taste much lighter, but still be tasty. Kimchi with less salt is more suitable for quick consumption, so I suggest you make a small amount (half of this recipe). Hope this helps. Cheers!

  5. hi Madam Hyoson. im Huda from Malaysia. i tried to make my 1st kimchi last week. but i didnt put salted shrimp n fish sauce. n i just mix all other ingredients. today i made my 2nd kimchi. but i put too much sugar n it turns out to be sweet. is it ok? or can i add on something to make less sweet? pls help me…

    • Hi Huda! There’s really not much you can do about the sugar already in kimchi. Adding a little more salt can help a little but you don’t want to do that if it’s already too salty. I’m not sure how much you put in, but let it mature and see how it is. It might be okay.

  6. hi. if i didnt want to use salted shrimp n fish sauce, do i need to add salt? n today i made my 2nd kimchi but i put in too much sugar n it turn out sweet. what should i do? help me juseyo…

    • Yes, you definitely need to use more salt if not using salted shrimp and fish sauce. Kimchi should taste a bit salty when it’s made.

    • thanks for your reply. can u pls help me a little bit more? let say i want to use 1 whole napa cabbage, how much do i need to use for the seasoning? can u give me the exact amount? how big is the cup that u are using? i still not satisfied with my kimchi. help me juseyo…

    • hmm I always use salted shrimp and fish sauce, so can’t tell you off the top of my head the amount of salt you need if you don’t use salted shrimp and fish sauce. Just start with a couple of tablespoons and add more as needed. The seasoning should be a bit salty. You can also adjust the seasoning after mixing with the cabbage. Again it should be a bit salty to eat as is. Kimchi without salted shrimp and fish sauce will not have the depth and pungency kimchi usually have. Try to add 1/ 4 of Korean pear and/or glutenous powder paste (see my pogi kimchi recipe) to help a little. Hope this helps.

  7. I love you. I was looking for recipes for fermented veggies to help with my tummy, but when I ask questions that others have asked you, the author never replied. You have answered everything I needed answering. I will be trying this recipe and sharing it with my sister. We both love kimchi but don’t want to buy store bought anymore because we want homemade. Cheers to you ♥

  8. Hi, after leaving it to ferment for a day, my kimchi seems to have turned watery. Is it because I did not salt it heavily before? Is this batch ruined?

    • During the initial salting process, the cabbage and radish release a lot of liquid, which is drained. So if you didn’t salt enough in the salting process, the vegetables will release liquid during the fermentation process. Your kimchi should be fine to eat. And kimchi juice is delicious. However, kimchi that’s not salty enough will turn sour quicker, so not good for keeping long. Hope this helps.

  9. Hi, Hyosun. I’m Stephanie from Malaysia. i’m very interested to make kimchi but i can’t find the korean chili flakes. What should i do?

  10. hi Stephanie. im from Malaysia too. i’ve made my kimchi. i bought korean chili flakes (gochugaru) at aeon big or u can find at aeon super market. u need to search at japanese/korean section, sure got. one of my friend used Babas chili powder n she said it was good. hope this can help u =)

  11. Dear Hyosun, I just made your recipe using local ingredients (Turkish pul biber chili flakes, Indonesian trassi and palm sugar). The whole apartment smells very exotic right now! My question is, if I want to give a pot away as a gift, should I pasteurize it as I can’t be sure how it will be stored or used?

  12. i have Question is it eating kimchi can cause high blood? i can see alot of salt hv been use for this process

    • First of all, a lot of salt used gets washed away after salting the cabbage. As a result, kimchi does not contain all the salt used in the recipe. If you’re concerned with the salt level, make it lighter with less salt and/or eat it in moderation.

  13. My wife cannot tolerate the heat from red pepper – could I use chile powder which contains other things like cumin? Also, how about Asian spice as an addition for additional flavor? Thanks.

    • You can reduce the amount of red chili pepper flakes to 1 or 2 tablespoons just have some color but not enough to make it spicy or omit entirely. Koreans also make white kimchi which is kimchi made without red chili pepper flakes. I’m sure other spices wouldn’t hurt, but the flavor would be quite different from traditional kimchi. Hope this helps.

  14. hi, I am writing from Poland, where not all the ingredients are available….I mixed a few recipes up and I think the result is not too bad…mine is a simple vegetarian kimchi, with cabbage (following the salting, soaking and draining method), carrot, ginger, garlic and chili powder….one question, I am leaving it 2-3 days in glass jars in a warmish kitchen (the lids are not too tight, so liquid can bubble out), what should I do next? close the jars and keep in the fridge? will it keep fermenting?should I leave it at room temperature for longer? jars tightly closed or not?
    thanks, alex

    • alex – 2 to 3 days is more than enough for kimchi to be left out at room temperature. Keep it in the fridge tightly closed. It will continue to ferment. Hope this helps.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hi there, I am writing from New York. how long will the flake red peppers last if I put it in the freezer? I have an old one from a few months ago or should I get a new bag?

    • I was just there over the weekend. Visited my son in Brooklyn and went to Flushing for a Korean dinner. It should be fine for a couple of years in the freezer. No need to buy a new bag.

  16. Hellow today I’m buying all the ingridient for this recepie but I have one question..I love seafood and I wonder if I can add fish or oisters to ur kimchi recepie??

  17. Hello, it’s my first time making kimchi but befor I make it . I want to 2 question . Does it have to be in a jar ? And does it have to be in the frige ?. Please reply thank you.:)

    • It doesn’t have to be in a jar. You can use an airtight plastic container as well. Yes, you need to keep it in the fridge or it will become overripe and sour too fast. Hope it turns out well for you. Thank you for trying out my recipe!

  18. Lovenicky says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I just made it this weekend and it’s soooooo good. It’s a little too hot for my hubby so I’m use less red chillies next time. I just can’t believe kimchi can be so easy to make! Thanks again!

  19. i have a problem, my mother made some kimchi and it turned out too salty. any way to fix it. she said use 1/2 tsp vinegar and 1/2 tsp sugar until the desired flavor.

    • Depending on when you made it, you can also add more water to dilute or more cabbages without salting. You can also cut up some white radish and add. Also, the saltiness reduces as it ferments, so put it out and expedite the fermentation process. Hope this helps.

  20. Thanks for the recipes. This would be my first attempt at kimchi, but not at fermentation. I own a 5L fermentation crock, with which I make sauerkraut regularly. To do this I have the cabbage submerged in brine, then leave it in the airtight crock for 2-4 weeks in a cool part of the basement. I’m surprised to see kimchi as having a much shorter ferment. Are there recipes or suggestions for a longer ferment? My thought is that would be more traditional, and could generate more flavor.

    • We do keep kimchi for weeks in the fridge (or in a cool place), during which time kimchi will continue to ferment. And you’re right. As it gets older, it generates more flavor. Hope you try the recipe!

  21. Just one question if you have a minute… Can you use dry spices, like ginger and garlic?

    • You can if you want, but most Korean home cooks don’t use dry ginger and garlic in kimchi. I highly recommend that you use fresh ginger and garlic.

  22. Last night I made kimchi stew with kimchi made two years ago. It was quite acidic so I added some doenjang and a diced potato. Since I’m on a diet, I used diced chicken-apple sausage for more unami flavor. So you can keep that kimchi for a long time but after two years don’t expect much any crunch. I also added more gochugaru since time had mellowed the heat, It wasn’t a traditional kimchi stew but it was still fantastic. I just discovered your site and like it very much. You have a variety of dishes I’ve not seen on other Korean food blogs.

    • Wow 2 years! I don’t think I ever had it that old. You kimchi jjigae sounds so creative and delicious! Thank you very much for finding me!! Hope you enjoy my recipes very much.

  23. Thank you for all your recipes. I tried your japchae recipe this evening and my husband loved it! I would like to try this recipe too and am wondering if I can use hot pepper paste to replace the chilli flakes? Thank you!

    • You should really use Korean chili pepper flakes for kimchi. There’s no substitute if you want to make authentic kimchi. Cheers!

  24. Hi there, thank you so much for your advise on the army stew. It was a hit :)

    Btw, may I ask what is salted shrimp? Sorry I may sound stupid but I’m really not sure what is it. Thank you once again and great dae. Love yr site :)

  25. Hi, I made this recipe last week. The kimchi is a bit too salty so I added a bit of water to dilute it. I was also wondering why mine has a dark red color and not the bright red that your picture shows? I really want to start making homemade kimchi regularly, as it is so much better than store-bought! Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

    • Hi Jeannie – It’s most likely the gochugaru that’s dark red. Try to find good quality gochugaru. It makes a big difference in color and flavor and is worth paying more. Some of the things that can help with kimchi being salty – use coarse sea salt to salt the cabbage, wash the salted cabbages thoroughly, taste the washed cabbage and wash more (or soak in water for a couple of minutes) if salty, or reduce the amount of salted shrimp/fish sauce. Don’t give up – it will only get better as you make more often. And you’re right homemade kimchi tastes much better. Let me know if you have any other questions.

  26. Hello!
    Greetings from Mexico
    I love your blog! I was involved in a small Korean community for a couple years in my hometown and I fell in love with korean food! I moved 3 years ago and I miss it so much so I’m trying to make it on my own.
    I have a hard time finding Napa cabbage so I was wondering if I could use a regular one. Does it taste bad if a use a different kind of cabbage?

  27. Hi…how can i subscribe your blog? I followed some of ur recipie and it is great. My hubby said no need to go to korean resturant and eat anymore.

    • There are some social media buttons at the top right hand side under “follow me” on my website. I’ll be adding the e-mail subscription feature. It disappeared when I changed the blog hosting. Thank you so much for the good words!

  28. I have not any fish sous and shrimps, so can I use a salt salmon, if I will whisk in in blender? Sorry for streange guestion :)

  29. Hi Hyosun! This recipe looks fabulous and I cannot wait to try it! If I wanted it to ferment longer (like 2-3 weeks) should I add more salt/salty things? If so, how much would you recommend?

    Thank you!

Leave a Comment

*