Traditional Cabbage Kimchi

배추김치 | Baechu Kimchi

Follow the three steps in Kimchi in 3 Steps, to make the traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi two ways. First with the traditional turnip stuffing with julienned turnips. Second option, Larger turnip slices layered with the cabbages all flavored with The Basic Sauce. Save the cabbage hearts to make Kimchi Salad – Gutjuri.

Napa Cabbage Proportions

Kosher Salt to Napa Cabbage
1 tablespoon to 1 pound

The Basic Sauce to Napa Cabbage

1/4 cup to 1 pound

Turnip Proportions

Turnip to Cabbage
1 pound to 3 pounds

Kosher Salt to Turnips

1 tablespoon to 3 pounds
The Basic Sauce to Turnips
1/4 cup to 1 pound

Ingredient List

9 pounds napa cabbages
9 tablespoons kosher salt

3 pounds Korean turnip
1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 cups The Basic Kimchi Sauce
1 cup Sweet Rice Flour Base
1 cup green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons saewojut – (salted baby anchovies)*
1 tablespoon sugar

*Available in Korean grocery stores. If not available, substitute with fish sauce.

Step 1 – Wash and Cut

Using a knife, cut the cabbage about a third way down from the root portion and pull apart, repeat the same steps with the halved pieces so that you have 4 quartered sections.

Fill a sink or a large bin with water. Put the cabbage sections in the water, lift up and down and shake side to side. Shake off the excess water. Drain in a colander. Repeat 2 to 3 times each time with fresh water until the cabbages are clean.

Step 2 – Salt and Brine

Place a cabbage section in a large bowl or a bin. Take a pinch of kosher salt at a time and sprinkle on each of the leaves, starting from the outer leaf inward.

Place the salted cabbage in the second bin tightly side by side.

After each layer, sprinkle salt on top. Repeat until all the sections are salted. Add any loose leaves on top and salt them.

After the cabbages have been salted, place a weight on top and let it stand at room temperature for about 4 hours rotating the cabbages every one to two hours. The salting time will vary depending on the batch size.

Once salted, place the cabbage pieces in a colander to drain. Remove as much as brining liquid as possible. If making gutjuri, remove the cabbage hearts with a knife and set aside.

Here’s link to another way to salt and brine the cabbages. Take a look to see which method you like better.

Kimchi Salting

Step 3 – Flavor with the The Basic Sauce

While the cabbages are being salted, make The Basic Sauce and the Sweet Rice Flour Base.

Option 1 – Traditional Turnip Stuffing

Peel a medium Korean turnip, about 1 pound per every 4 pounds of cabbages. Julienne using a knife or a mandoline. For 9 pounds of cabbages, add 3 pounds of turnip.

Combine The Basic Kimchi Sauce (1/4 cup for every pound of cabbage and turnip), the Sweet Rice Flour Base, salted baby anchovies, green onions, and sugar. And gently mix them.

Option 2 – My Favorite Way – Turnip Slices

Peel a medium turnip

Cut a thin slice on one side to provide a flat surface so that the turnip doesn’t roll around. Cut the two ends and discard. Cut the turnip in half lengthwise. Cut into ½ inch thick half moon slices. Add a 1 pound of turnip to every 3 pounds of cabbages.

Transfer to a bowl and salt them with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.

Leave it at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

While the turnip slices are salting, combine The Basic Sauce, the Sweet Rice Flour Base, green onions, baby anchovies, and sugar. Mix well.

Drain the salted turnip slices in a colander. Transfer to a large bin and mix in 3/4 cup of the sauce and mix well.

Option 3 – Omit the turnip altogether

Just dress the cabbage with The Sauce.


Dress the cabbage sections with the sauce, starting with the outermost leaf inward. Fold in half. Dress the rest of the cabbage sections following the same steps. Place the cabbages tightly in a jar side by side, alternating the direction of the head.

For option 2, Place turnip slices in the bottom of a jar, place the cabbage sections on top. Continue to fill the jar with the cabbages alternating each layer with the turnip slices.

Once the jar is full, cover with a plastic wrap, wipe the sides and top with a paper towel and cover. Put the jar in the bin or a large bowl to catch any juice that may overflow during the fermentation process. Let it sit at room temperature for one to 2 days or until fermented to your taste, then refrigerate.


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