Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage

Korean Spicy Pickled Cabbage

The Spruce

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Plus: 78 hrs
Total: 78 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 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 a large nonreactive bowl or pot, mix salt into the water.

    Salted water for kimchi
     The Spruce
  3. Add cabbage to salt water and, if necessary, weigh down with a 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 a lid. Let kimchi ferment in a cool place for 2 to 3 days before serving or putting in the refrigerator.

    Homemade spicy kimchi
     The Spruce
  8. Enjoy.

Recipe Variation

  • 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 over-salting their kimchi. Because every fish sauce and brined shrimp has a different amount of salt, use them sparingly if you've never made kimchi before.