Traditional Kimchi (Pogi Kimchi)

 This kimchi made with napa cabbage is the most traditional kimchi in Korea. With this kimchi recipe and step-by-step photos, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to make authentic kimchi at home!

napa cabbage kimchi recipe
What is kimchi?

I probably don’t need to tell you that kimchi is the best-known Korean dish, and Koreans eat it literally everyday with every meal. Kimchi is basically a catch-all Korean term for fermented vegetables. There are hundreds of kimchi varieties in Korea, but this napa cabbage kimchi is the most common variety.

In this Korean kimchi recipe, I will show you how to make traditional napa cabbage kimchi, aka. pogi kimchi.

I usually make this Korean kimchi recipe with 5 – 10 cabbages at a time. Why so much? Besides the fact that we Koreans eat kimchi every day, 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.

Homemade Korean Napa Cabbage Kimchi in a shallow blue bowl on a wooden table

To help you start making kimchi at home, I came up with a recipe using one napa cabbage. Through this Korean kimchi recipe, I hope you’ll find that it’s really not that difficult to make good authentic kimchi at home. It may look complicated at first, but it really requires no special skills – all you really need is patience.

Vegan kimchi

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 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.


Kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi)


Salt for making kimchi

Koreans use Korean sea salt to salt vegetables to make kimchi. It’s natural salt with a coarse texture that’s minimally processed. The coarse sea salt is commonly referred to as gulgeun-sogeum (굵은소금), meaning coarse or thick salt. The salt is used mainly for salting vegetables for making kimchi and for fermenting condiments such as doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste) and gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste). This salt tastes good without bitterness, so it helps develop flavors in fermented foods.

If Korean sea salt is not available, you can use your normal kitchen salt, which has finer grain. When we first came to America, Korean sea salt wasn’t available, so we used normal salt to salt the cabbages. Be sure to use less (about 1/4 less than the amount called for in the recipe) if using finer salt.

For seasoning kimchi and other food items, Koreans use refined sea salt. 

How long does Kimchi last? 

Although you can start eating your kimchi any time, it needs about two weeks in the fridge to fully develop its flavors. Your kimchi will continue to age in your refrigerator and will be delicious for a couple of months. The kimchi will last much longer than that. It will turn very sour over time, and sour kimchi can be used in many delicious dishes! 

More kimchi options

If you want to make vegan kimchi, skip shrimps and swap fish sauce for soy sauce. Or simply head over to my blog post on how to make vegan kimchi.

Not a fan of cabbage? Try my Cucumber Kimchi, my Green Onion Kimchi or this refreshing Cubed radish Kimchi

Have you tried this kimchi recipe? Please rate the recipe below and leave a comment! Stay in touch by following me on YouTube, PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.


Traditional kimchi (Napa cabbage kimchi)

DSC 0869 150x150 1 150x150 - Traditional Kimchi (Pogi Kimchi)
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4.52 from 49 votes

Traditional kimchi

This Korean kimchi recipe shows you how to make traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi - with easy to follow instructions and step-by-step photos to get perfect crunchy, tangy, spicy, and delicious homemade kimchi. 
Prep Time1 hr
Resting time8 hrs
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Korean
Keyword: cabbage, easy, fermented, healthy, kimchi, Korean, lowcarb
Servings: 1 big jar
Author: Hyosun


  • 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 water
  • 1 pound Korean radish, mu or moo (무) mu/moo
  • 1/4 Korean pear (배) optional
  • 3 - 4 scallions


  • 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder* 찹쌀가루 ((*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, 고추가루, (adjust to your taste)
  • 1/4 cup salted shrimp (saeujeot) , 새우젓, finely minced
  • 3 - 4 raw shrimps about 2 ounces, finely minced or ground
  • 3 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot fish sauce, 멸치액젓
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
  • 1/2 cup water or dashima dried kelp broth

Kitchen tools

  • 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 by cutting the stem end in half only about 3 - 4 inches in and then slowly pulling 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.)
    Napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • 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.
    baechu kimchi
  • 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.
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • 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.
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • Meanwhile, make the glutinous rice paste and cool. Prepare the other seasoning ingredients. Mix all the seasoning ingredients, including the rice paste and water (or dashima broth), well. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients in order for the red pepper flakes to dissolve slightly and become pasty.
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • Cut the radish and optional pear into matchsticks (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.
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • 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.)
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • 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.
    napa cabbage kimchi recipe
  • 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.
Tried this recipe?Mention @koreanbapsang or tag #koreanbapsang!