Napa Cabbage and Cucumber Kimchi

Adapted from Chuck’s Kimchi, Courtesy of Chuck’s Day Off,

Kimchi is a spicy pickled or fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. Often referred to as Korea’s national dish, there are hundreds of recipes for kimchi.  In Chuck Hughes’ version, Napa cabbage and cucumbers are mixed with a spicy pickling mixture. This kimchi may be eaten immediately, but its flavor develops over time, so I recommend a minimum pickling time of 24 hours. Chuck’s original recipe called for 2 Tbsp. Korean pepper powder; we thought 6 Tbsp. was pleasantly spicy but not too hot. Everyone making kimchi should adjust the amount of pepper to suit their guests’ palates. Korean pepper powder and sweet rice flour can be found at most Asian markets and some large supermarkets. Kimchi is an all-purpose condiment and may be eaten with a wide variety of meat, seafood, and poultry. Chuck serves kimchi with raw and fried oysters, in fried crab spring rolls, in turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches, and with pulled pork.

  • Brined Cabbage

  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 2-lb. Napa cabbage, cored and cut into chunks

    Kimchi Paste

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour (Chuck says can substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2-6 Tbsp. Korean red pepper powder
  • 2 cups diced onion, 1/4″ dice (approximately 1 large onion)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 lemongrass stick, minced


  • 2 to 3 large cucumbers, peeled and diced, 3/4″ dice
  • 5 green onions, minced (both white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives

Brined Cabbage: In very large, deep bowl, mix salt and water and stir until salt is dissolved. Add chunked cabbage to brine and weight down with plate to keep cabbage submerged. Refrigerate cabbage in brine for 4 hours. Rinse thoroughly under cold water at least 3 times. Blot cabbage dry with dish or paper towels.

Kimchi Paste: In skillet or saucepan, bring water to a simmer and whisk in rice flour. Whisk over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. The flour and water will make a soft, creamy-white paste. Add sugar and continue to stir for one more minute. Remove from heat and place paste in food processor bowl. Add all remaining Kimchi Paste ingredients to food processor and process to make paste.

Assemble Kimchi: In large bowl, mix dry cabbage with cucumbers, green onions, fish sauce, soy sauce, and chopped chives. Add kimchi paste and stir well to coat cabbage with the paste. Eat it fresh right after mixing or wait 24 hours until it’s pickled.

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