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Traditional Kimchi

kept byDAPHNE

Prep time
6 hours 20 mins

Fermentation time
5 to 10 days

Yield: 3 pints

A spicy and relatively short ferment, kimchi offers an unlimited canvas on which to paint different flavors. Use any crunchy fresh vegetable. Or tweak the paste by varying the amount of ginger, garlic, fish sauce, and red peppers (or by adding any other ingredients) to customize the taste exactly to your liking.

Red Pepper Powder

Most traditional kimchi recipes like this use kochukaru, a red pepper powder (available at Asian markets) to slather every morsel of the veggies. Check out our fresh pepper-only kimchi recipe here.

When buying kochukaru (red pepper powder), be sure to check the ingredients to make sure that red pepper is the ONLY ingredient. Some brands include salt or even preservatives. We want to control our own salt level, so only buy the pure stuff!

Most brands are from China. I had to dig and ask around, but I eventually found a few Korean brands where the peppers were actually grown in Korea. Korean pepper powder is less intensely red than the stuff from China.

Fermentation Time

Kimchi fermentation time (like any vegetable ferment) can vary widely according to the season and your location. Some prefer to do a short (2-3 days) ferment at room temperature, and then transfer to a refrigerator. In the southern California coastal climate (USDA hardiness zone 10a) where I live, I find that 9 days fermentation time is perfect for this recipe. In the fridge, the flavor definitely continues to develop and it gets better over the next 3-4 weeks it sits in the fridge. It’s best to experiment with different times and keep track of what works best in your climate.

In fact, many Korean households have a special kimchi refrigerator for that purpose! These special high-tech fridges use “direct cooling” and can be set to “fermentation mode” to closely simulate traditional conditions (burying a crock in the ground).


2-3 lbs./1 kg (1 head) organic Napa or green cabbage
1 lb/ ½ kg organic daikon or Korean radish (about one 12 inch/50 cm length, 1-inch/3 cm diameter daikon)
2 quarts/liters filtered water
½ cup/120 ml sea salt or kosher salt (fine grind)
4 organic scallions (green onions)
6-8 cloves (one bulb) organic garlic, about 60g peeled
1 (3-inch/13cm) hand organic ginger, about 40g peeled
¼ cup /60 ml dried red pepper powder (kochukaru)
1 Tbsp./15 ml fish sauce with no preservatives! (omit if Vegan Variation)
1 Tbsp./15 ml tamari (gluten-free) or regular soy sauce



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