How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (2024)

Kelly from Primally Inspired 71 Comments

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (1)

How To Make Kimchi (My Mom’s Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe)

Have you ever had kimchi? (Sometimes spelled Kimchee, too).

Today I’m going to teach you how to make kimchi. And not just any kimchi – my mom’s famous spicy kimchi! This stuff is the bomb!

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (2)

Kimchi is a traditional fermented food and it’s even Korea’s national dish. Koreans generally eat a small amount of kimchi with every single meal. Kimchi is made with vegetables and spices and is lacto fermented. That means it’sjam packed with beneficial probiotics that help our immune health and digestion. In other words – it’s super, super good for you! Those smart Koreans definitely know what’s up 😉

Homemade fermented foods like kimchi contain 100 times more probiotics than a supplement. In fact, just one small spoonful of kimchi will give you more probiotics than an entire bottle of probiotics! (Source)

If you’ve never tasted kimchi, it’s like a flavor explosion in your mouth. It’s a delightful combination of crispy and bold andspicy and tangy. If you like sour foods like pickles and sauerkraut, I think you’ll really love kimchi, too.

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Kimchi is awesome on wraps, sandwiches, on hamburgers or just eaten by the spoonful. But my very favorite way to eat kimchi is mixed with eggs for breakfast. So yummy!

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My mom makes the best kimchi. I’ve had my fair share of kimchi and no one beats my mom’s kimchi. I spent a few days visiting with her last week and she taught me exactly how to make kimchi so I could share it with you all. And today I’m showing you how to make it based on my mom’s famous spicy Korean kimchi recipe. Enjoy!

If you are a regular eater of kimchi, leave me a comment and let me know what foods you like to pair with your kimchi 🙂

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (5)

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (6)

How To Make Kimchi

How To Make Kimchi (My Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe!)

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (7)

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Kelly from Primally Inspired

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How to Make Kimchi (Korean Spicy Kimchi Recipe) from Primally Inspired

Ingredients

  • 2 heads Napa cabbage (about 6 pounds total)
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 2 cups spring or distilled water
  • 1 large diakon radish (about 1½ pounds), peeled
  • 4 large carrots (about ¾ pound total)
  • 1 apple, peeled and core removed (don't leave the apple out! The apple provides sugar for the bacteria to eat so it can ferment properly)
  • 2 bunches of scallions, chopped
  • 1 whole head of garlic, peeled
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger
  • 1½ cups hot Korean chili flakes (found in Asian markets or online. I use THESE)
  • optional: 1 teaspoon fish sauce (I use THIS)
  • optional: pinch or two (or three!) of dried red pepper flakes. The more pinches, the spicier! I typically use 2 pinches - about 1 teaspoon.
  • ⅓ cup additional distilled or spring water
  • clean mason jars (I use 8 of THESE jars)

Instructions

  1. Cut your cabbage in one inch (bite size) pieces and place it in 2 very large bowls. How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (8)
  2. Add ½ cup sea salt and 1 cup of water to each bowl and toss with your hands to coat. How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (9)
  3. Let the cabbage sit for one hour, tossing every 20 minutes. You'll start to see the cabbage releasing liquid and shrinking in size - that's exactly what we want!
  4. While the cabbage is sitting, shred your radish, carrots and apple in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, you can chop them in small pieces. Set aside.
  5. In a food processor, process the garlic and ginger until smooth.
  6. Fold in your Korean hot chili flakes, red pepper flakes (if using) and fish sauce (if using) and ⅓ cup water. Stir until it becomes a paste. Set aside.
  7. After the cabbage has sat for 1 hour, rinse it very well with cold water and then strain the water. Rinse and strain for a total of 3 times. Rinsing and straining 3 times is important because you want to wash away most of the salt or it will be way too salty!
  8. Place your rinsed cabbage in one of your very large bowls (it should all fit in one bowl now).
  9. Add the radish, carrot, scallions and apple and your hot chili/garlic/ginger paste. How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (10)
  10. With gloves on your hands (important!), toss everything together making sure that the paste coats all the veggies well.
  11. Add the kimchi to your mason jars packing it in tightly. Make sure to leave at least 2 inches of headroom (the kimchi will expand as it ferments). Close the lids to your jars. This recipe usually makes about 8-10 pint size jars.
  12. Close the lids on your jars and let them sit for 3-5 days.
  13. You must "burp" the jars once a day during these 3-5 days. You do that by quickly opening the jar and then closing it. You'll hear gas releasing - just like what it sounds like when you open a soda. That is normal and a good sign! You should see small bubbles in your jar, too. And if you hold the opened jar to your ears, you'll also hear it fizzing. That's like music to a fermenters ears 🙂
  14. After 3 days, give your kimchi a taste. If it tastes tangy and "fizzy", that means your kimchi is finished and you can move your jars to the fridge. They will last about a year in the fridge. If you don't taste that tanginess, let your kimchi sit for a few more days.

Notes

You may want to put the jars on a tray while they are fermenting. If you didn't leave enough headroom, your kimchi liquid could spill out of the jars, leaving you with a big mess - a tray helps catch that liquid 🙂

Pin How To Make Kimchi HERE:

How To Make Kimchi - Mom's Famous Spicy Kimchi Recipe (11)

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FAQs

How do you make kimchi more spicy? ›

If all you want is More Heat, just use finely minced habanero or scotch bonnet peppers. (Use appropriate practices for handling extremely spicy peppers.) After adding the peppers, stir well and let sit for a day or two to let the flavors disperse.

What is the ingredients of Korean kimchi? ›

Image of What is the ingredients of Korean kimchi?
Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage originating near the Beijing region of China that is widely used in East Asian cuisine. Since the 20th century, it has also become a widespread crop in Europe, the Americas and Australia. In much of the world, it is referred to as "Chinese cabbage".
Wikipedia

What if my kimchi is not spicy enough? ›

Add more hot pepper flakes if it's not spicy enough for you. Happy cooking! Sometimes even the spicy versions of hot pepper flakes isn't spicy enough for me. What I learned to do (from a friend of my mom who is quite well-known in local circles for making fantastic kimchi) is to add some hot peppers to the mix.

How is kimchi made originally? ›

Early history

The pickling of vegetables was an ideal method, prior to refrigerators, that helped to preserve the lifespan of foods. In Korea, kimchi was made during the winter by fermenting vegetables, and burying it in the ground in traditional brown ceramic pots called onggi.

Is kimchi difficult to make? ›

Kimchi is expensive in stores, but it's cheap if you make it yourself. Kimchi may seem complex to make, but it's no more difficult than making a salad. Summary: Kimchi is typically made with cabbage, radish, garlic, onion, ginger, carrot, fish sauce, and chili flakes.

What is spicy kimchi made of? ›

What is kimchi? While many families have their own proprietary blend of ingredients, a traditional batch of kimchi will likely be made with napa cabbage, fish sauce, gochugaru (Korean coarse red pepper powder), sugar, ginger, garlic, scallions, radishes, and carrots.

Is spicy kimchi good for your gut? ›

Along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, kimchi contains natural probiotic bacteria. If you eat them regularly, the probiotics in fermented foods can be beneficial to your gut microbiome. Studies suggest that eating kimchi on a daily basis could help to improve some digestive problems.

What is the most important ingredient in kimchi? ›

In general, kimchi is made using Chinese leaves (Napa cabbage) or radish as the primary ingredient, with red chilli pepper powder, garlic and spring onions used as supplementary ingredients.

What kind of salt is best for kimchi? ›

Almost all Koreans use sea salt for making kimchi, fish sauce, hot pepper paste (gochujang), and fermented bean paste (doenjang), and a less granular Korean brand for everything else. When I lived in Korea, I did too. I would buy a big straw sack of sea salt that would last a year.

Does kimchi go bad? ›

Kimchi technically doesn't really expire because it is already fermented. If it's properly fermented and refrigerated, it should be good up to 12 months or more from when it's jarred (or crock-potted).

How do you know if kimchi is fermented enough? ›

If you opt for fermentation, the kimchi will be ready to eat when it begins to taste and smell sour or when tiny bubbles begin to move through the container.

Why is my homemade kimchi so sour? ›

Why is the kimchi so sour tasting? Kimchi will always have a high level of acidity. This is caused by gut-healthy bacteria in the kimchi, which create acid during their lifetime, lowering the pH of the kimchi and preserving it naturally. If the kimchi was not acidic (read: sour) it would go bad!

Why does my kimchi have no taste? ›

Your Kimchi has probably not fermented enough. Freshly made Kimchi from Korea is known to be slightly bitter and more salty! But this will change overtime to a tangy and umami flavour as it ferments in the fridge.

How is kimchi made underground? ›

As a way of preserving the harvest just before winter, Koreans would first salt then tightly pack their cabbages into large clay urns, burying them underground to avoid the frost. The resulting fermented product took on a delicious flavour, and Kimchi began bubbling up across the whole country.

Is there a difference between kimchi and fermented kimchi? ›

Taste. The biggest difference between fresh and fermented Kimchi is the taste. Fresh Kimchi is more like a salad, so it taste more raw, fresh and crunchy. Fermented Kimchi is softer and tangy.

How does kimchi taste before fermentation? ›

Kimchi is a traditional Korean method of salting and fermenting vegetables such as Cabbage, Radish and Cucumbers, this helps the vegetable last longer. Fresh Kimchi starts off salty and gets more sour as it naturally ferments over time.

How many hours does it take to make kimchi? ›

How long does it take to make Kimchi? Allow 1 hour to prepare the kimchi and get it in the fermentation jar. Plus 4 hours waiting while the vegetables salt. It takes 5-10 days to ferment depending on room temperature.

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