Mak Kimchi (Easy Kimchi)

Mak kimchi recipe
 
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 recipe is about. The Korean word “mak” means “carelessly” or “roughly” (generally used as an adverb). The name mak kimchi (막김치) 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 kimchi compared 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!
 
Mak kimchi recipe
 
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 kimchi taste more refreshing with the radish, but it’s like having two different kinds of kimchi in one dish. Other than that, this kimchi 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. 
 
Mak kimchi recipe
 

Mak Kimchi (Easy Kimchi)
An easy delicious kimchi recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium size napa cabbages (about 8 pounds)
  2. 1-1/4 cups coarse sea salt (less if using finer salt)
  3. 6 cups water
  4. 1 Korean radish, mu (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  5. 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  6. 5 - 7 scallions, roughly chopped
Seasoning
  1. 1 cup gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
  2. 1/3 cup saeujeot (salted shrimp), finely minced
  3. 4 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot (fish sauce)
  4. 1/4 cup minced garlic
  5. 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  6. 1 tablespoon sugar
  7. large bowls (preferably at least 7 - 8 quarts)
  8. large colanders
  9. kitchen gloves
  10. airtight container(s) or jar(s) - about 1-1/2 gallons

  11. Kimchi ingredients
Instructions
  1. 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).
    easy kimchi
  2. 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.
    Easy kimchi recipe
  3. 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.
    easy kimchi recipe
  4. Mix the chili pepper flakes with the remaining seasoning ingredients along with 1 cup of water.
    Easy kimchi recipe
  5. Rinse the salted cabbage three times and drain to remove excess water.
    Easy kimchi recipe
  6. 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).
    Mak Kimchi recipe
  7. Rinse the bowl with 1/2 cup of water by swirling around, and pour over the kimchi.
    easy kimchi recipe
  8. 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.
Korean Bapsang http://www.koreanbapsang.com/
 

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  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!

  30. FinGourmet says:

    Hello Hyosun,

    First of all, thank you for all those recipes and especially kimchi-related ones ! I love kimchi ever since I’ve tasted it. I would like to try your recipe (autumn is there and winter is coming..) but I would like to add some ingredients like soy sauce, sesame seeds and sesame oil. I’ve read sesame (oil and seeds are a healthy addition). What do you think ? Also, would it make a significant difference if I make a glutinous rice powder paste ?

    Thank you for your help

    Greetings from France and Long live Korean food !

    • Sesame seeds are common in kimchi. Soy sauce and sesame oil are not traditional kimchi ingredients. I wouldn’t add to Kimchi. If you like to add some sesame oil, add a little when you serve/eat. You can add glutinous rice powder paste. Enjoy!

  31. Hello, I really want to try to make this sometime but I have always been afraid to make kimchi because I have heard stories about it fermenting too long or not long enough, or if you don’t use enough salt it could rot rather than ferment, any suggestions to prevent that and it is much of a concern? Isi it dangerous to make your own kimchi?

    • Almost every household in Korea makes kimchi at home. It’s quite safe. Just follow a good recipe. It would be fine.

  32. Kimchi is a very famous as well as healthy Korean food. It can be enjoyed in a Korean restaurant or made at home easily.

  33. Hi Hyosun,

    Thank you for your blog. I am amazed out how easy and quick kimchee is to make. I travelled to Korea in the 1970s and 1980s and loved to eat kimchee back then. I did not eat it for many years, but last year I began to eat it daily. I had been hospitalized and given antibiotics, which destroyed my good gut bacteria. To restore those I read that fermented food was beneficial, so I began to eat sauerkraut or kimchee everyday. Doing that dramatically improved my indigestion and I am certain its kimchee working. Also, I have chronic pain of fibromyalgia, and I read that chili peppers are good for reducing inflammation.

    Sauerkraut is easy to find, but I much prefer kimchee and am now ‘addicted’ to it. I can’t get enough of it. I understand now why Koreans eat it every day. There is one supermarket in my small town on the west coast of Canada that carries a good quality kimchee, but the supply is sporatic. I have managed to eat it most days, but sometimes go a month or more before a new supply arrives so switch to sauerkraut. So, I started to research making my own kimchee and found your blog.

    Today I went to that same supermarket hoping to find the ingredients you list for kimchee. I can get the cabbage, garlic and ginger no problem, but I have had to substitute or omit some of the other ingredients. For example, I could not find Korean fish sauce, but I got a good one from Thailand that’s probably very close, anchovy based. I also could not find salted shrimp or Korean chili flakes.

    So, I am making my first test batch today. I am just using regular red chili flakes and that fish sauce, but no shrimp. Hopefully it will work out but I will be asking the supermarket manager if I can special order those ingredients and do it properly according to your recipe.

    Thanks again for your blog.

    • Hi Perry – I’m glad to hear fermented foods are helping you with your health issues. Yes, kimchi certainly is addictive! Thai fish sauce should be fine, but have you tried on-line for Korean chili flakes? Hope your health conditions continue to improve.

      • Thanks Hyosun. How soon can I start eating the kimchee after leaving it at room temperature for a day? I’ll let you know how my test batch worked out.
        Thanks for the shopping tip. It didn’t occur to me to order online.

        • You can start eating it any time, but kimchi usually takes about two weeks in the fridge to fully develop the flavors. If you didn’t use all the ingredients, it’s probably better to be eaten sooner than later. Enjoy!

          • Hi again. I’m so excited because my first test batch was successful and I have found an asia market about an hours drive away that carries all the ingredients I need.

            I used substituted ingredients and no shrimp for my first two batches so it would not impress someone who’s eaten kimchee all their life, but it was pretty good. And it will be even better when I start using authentic Korean ingredients.

            The ready made kimchee I used to buy used chili pepper paste instead of flakes. They probably used the paste listed on your products page: Gochujang (고추장) red chili pepper paste. But your recipe calls for flakes. Is there a reason you prefer using flakes over paste?

            You also say glutinous rice paste can used. What role does that play?

            Thanks again for help. I’m so excited I can make my own kimchee now.

          • It’s not common to use gochujang (paste) in kimchi. It’s too thick and sweet for making kimchi. Gochugaru (flakes) is THE most important ingredient for kimchi. Among other reasons, the rice paste promotes fermentation by feeding healthy bacteria and helps develop the flavors of kimchi.I am so proud of you for making your own kimchi. And it will only get better every time you make it. Happy kimchi making!

          • Hi again. I have now made my first batch of kimchee using the authentic ingredients in your recipe. It is absolutely fantastic, it even tastes better than the kimchee I used to buy, which I think is true of most home-made foods. I learned a lot from the comments here and your replies, Hyosun, so here’s a couple things I’ve learned so far that might help others.

            I now understand why you say above: “Gochugaru (flakes) is THE most important ingredient for kimchi. ” I was mistaken in my comment above that the kimchee I bought ready made listed red pepper paste. It was not paste, but powder. At the Asian market I finally found, the Korean owner showed me two kinds of pepper “flakes” for making Kimchee. However, the only English on the packages of both kinds referred to it as pepper powder not flakes. One is a very fine powder and the other is courser with very small flakes, but still closer to what I would call powder rather than flakes.

            With my first test batch, before I found that pepper powder, I used red chili flakes that were a combination of whole seeds and large flakes. The result was that the ‘kimchee’ was missing that beautiful red colour that it should have as seen in your photo above. So I guess it was a bit like white kimchee, only spicy.

            I also didn’t have salted shrimp for that test batch. It was fermented, but didn’t really taste much like kimchee I’m used to. I ate it though, both as is and in soup. So substituted ingredients work, but it does change the taste.

            Right now I’m soaking my cabbage for my next batch. I’m wondering how important the rinse cycle is. You say to rinse the cabbage three times. Is that to rinse the excess salt off. How important is that process? I found my first batch to be just a slightly bit too salty, but not enough to stop me from stuffing my face. Could that be because I didn’t rinse it well enough?

            My first authentic batch was still absolutely fantastic though, and so maybe that level of salt is just right since you say below it should be a little salty. I find myself craving kimchee, so perhaps it is filling a particular dietary need. I regret not having done this sooner.

            Thanks again for your help.

  34. Hello, thank you for the recipe! When is the kimchi ready to eat? After the 6 hours left at room temp.? And when you say airtight container, is regular tupperware ok? Thanks :)

    • You can eat kimchi any time you want, but it will get better with a few more days of fermentation. Some people like fresh kimchi, and some people like it well fermented sour kimchi. It’s a matter of preference. Regular tupperware is okay. Just make sure it’s tightly closed.

      • Thanks, it is delicious! I had to substitute the gochugaru Korean red chilli pepper flakes as they were nowhere to be found here (rural England) so I used a combination of fresh chilli and paprika instead. Also there were no daikon radishes so I just used extra cabbage. There were only English cabbage varieties so I used one of them instead but it still tasted great! I am now making my second batch.

  35. Hi,
    I absolutely love your site. I made my first batch of Kim chi yesterday, and it turned out to be too salty. Is there a way to fix it? I was thinking about adding more salted cabbage, but not sure that will work. Do you have any suggestion? Thank you!

    Penny

    • How salty is it? It’s supposed to a bit salty to eat as is. The saltiness will reduce as it ferments. You can leave it out at room temperature longer to help ferment faster. But if you think it’s way too salty, you can add more cabbage, lightly salted, or cut up some radish and add. Or simply add some water. All depends on how salty it is. What kind of salt did you use? I’d love to know what’s causing the kimchi to be too salty.

  36. Could I substitute anchovies for the salted shrimp? Would I use the same amount? We have crustacean allergies. Thank you

  37. Hi Hyosun,
    This recipe is so easy to follow and the result is delicious! I just have one question, my cabbage turns translucent after soaking with salt and rinsing with water, and after marinating with the seasoning it is a little too soft, is that normal? Thank you for sharing this recipe :)

    • It should be crunchy and chewy after salting because salting draws out the water content from the cabbage. What kind of salt do you use?

      • I used fine sea salt bought from a korean grocery store (I used less than the amount in the recipe). Thanks.

  38. Steve Falck says:

    I add Shredded radish, Bosh pear, and Jimica to mine !