Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage

Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage

The Spruce

Ratings (69)
  • Total: 72 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 72 hrs
  • Yield: 12 servings

This pickled and fermented Napa cabbage is the most popular and recognizable form of kimchi. Baechu kimchi is not only good as a side dish to almost every Korean meal, but it is also the foundation for many soups, stews, stir-fries, and rice dishes.


  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 Napa cabbages (washed and cut into 2-inch squares)
  • 1 cup coarse salt (or kosher or sea salt)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup kochukaru
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 scallions (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
  • Optional: fish sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage Ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. In large nonreactive bowl or pot, mix salt into water.

    Salted water for kimchi.
     The Spruce
  3. Add cabbage to salt water and if necessary, weigh down with large plate so leaves are all submerged. Soak cabbage for 5 to 6 hours.

    Cabbage soaked in salt water for kimchi.
     The Spruce
  4. Remove cabbage and rinse in cold water, squeezing out excess liquid.

    Rinse cabbage for kimchi.
     The Spruce
  5. In a large bowl, mix garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, sugar, and scallions.

    Herbs and seasonings for kimchi.
     The Spruce
  6. Add cabbage and coat with seasoning mixture.

    Kimchi mixture.
     The Spruce
  7. Pack the seasoned cabbage into a large airtight jar with lid. Let kimchi ferment in a cool place for 2 to 3 days before serving or putting in refrigerator.

    Homemade spicy kimchi.
     The Spruce
  8. Enjoy!

*There are countless ways to make kimchi, but traditional recipes usually include fish sauce, brined tiny shrimp or fresh oysters. Try 2 to 3 tablespoons of fish sauce or 2 tablespoons of chopped brined shrimp if you'd like to experiment. I am always nervous about people oversalting their kimchi. Because every fish sauce and brined shrimp has a different amount of salt, I advise you to use them sparingly if you've never made kimchi before.