How to Make Kimchi

Slow-carb 4HB Recipes: Kimchi

Kimchi is one of the healthiest foods I know of. Chock full of nutrients, it’s also one of the tastiest (if you like spicy food). Put simply, kimchi is fermented cabbage. That fermentation process gives us some outstanding bacteria that help with digestion and all sorts of things. Koreans eat it with everything; so can you. Plus, it’s explicitly on the 4 Hour Body list.

You can buy kimchi in the store if you know where to find one, but it’s not hard to make. It’s not time consuming either, although a lot of time passes between start and finish. Here’s how you can make your own.


  • 1 medium to large napa cabbage (about the size of a football)
  • about 1/8 c salt
  • 1/2 c red pepper flakes (NOT crushed red pepper powder)*
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • about 5 green onions
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (totally optional)
  • about 1/8 c sugar (to feed the ferment, you won’t actually get sugar in your final product)


  1. Chop the cabbage into pieces a bit larger than bite size, and to be traditional wash it three times. Use the whole thing (except for maybe the knobby bit at the bottom). Place it all in a large bowl or bin, with enough room to toss it.
  2. Add your salt to the cabbage and mix really well. You should start to feel the cabbage getting wet.
  3. Mix the red pepper flakes with about 1/4 c warm water. It should be pasty, not runny. Add the paste to the cabbage.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, green onions, and sugar. The sugar helps the fermentation process. Your kimchi should not taste sweet in the end, so use some judgment on exactly how much sugar you use. If you’re using fish sauce, add it now too.
  5. Toss the mixture. Hands work best, but be careful. If you’ve got plastic gloves, use them. I learned the hard way that even if you think your hands are clean, hours later you can still burn your eyes accidentally.
  6. After it’s all mixed, bottle it up. I have a huge pickle jar I use, but several smaller ones will suffice. You should get a pretty substantial amount of kimchi out of this recipe. Leave some space in the top of the bottles, close the bottle but leave it slightly open to vent. Let it sit out at room temperature for 24-48 hours. If your bottle is REALLY full, put them on a baking sheet to catch any spillage as sometimes the mixture seems to expand at first as it ferments.

You can start eating your kimchi right away, but it definitely tastes better after at least a week of sitting in your fridge. I would also recommend buying some at a Korean market if you’ve never had it before. It helps to know what it should taste like to determine how much of certain ingredients you want to add.

My first kimchi was too gingery and sweet. My second was amazing. My third was too dry. Eventually you get the hang of it, and it’s worth the effort. Besides – how many white kids know how to make a Korean staple? Even my Korean friends say it’s awesome.

Have you had kimchi before? How did you like it? Come on back and let me know how you like the recipe!

*It’s called gochugaru. You may find it in an Asian market, but if you have any Korean friends or know of a Korean restaurant, ask where you can get it. Trust me, using crushed red pepper is not the same…

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  1. sounds interesting…I enjoy trying to make different things so I may try making this…the only problem, the term “fermented” just gives a stinky, nasty imagery to it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I have made homemade pickles in similar way and the ones I’ve had were awesome!


    • Well, I will say this…it *TASTES* great…but it can smell like crap to others in the room. ๐Ÿ™‚ We eat lots of fermented things all the time, we just don’t call it fermented. Cheeses, yogurt, beer, wine, etc. What’s interesting is that the fermentation makes kimchi taste better!

  2. Thanks for sharing this. I love Kimchi but never prepared it. I will give this recipe a try and let you now how it turned out ๐Ÿ™‚
    Ms. DMV
    DMV = DC, Maryland, Virginia

  3. I made this tonight. Now, to see the results… Thanks for the recipe!!

    Here’s a tip, because of the spice on your hands and fear of later injury, once you’re done rub your hands with used coffee grounds. Scrub in as you would soap, and then wash regularly. It should take off all the spice on your hands. =)

  4. I just had my first taste of kimchee, and I have to say that it is AWESOME! As soon as I opened the jar, the smell that hit me was amazing! I put it on top of my salad. I was lucky enough to find some local organic at a health food store near me. I know I’ll be buying this often!!

    • Good find, Robin! See if you can find it at an Asian market; it might be cheaper. I love this stuff so much. I’ve got a large (5 gallon?) pickle jar of it fermenting in the fridge as we speak! It’ll be ready in a week or so.

      I’m gonna try my own saurkraut too. I’ll post a recipe if I get a good one.


      • I found some at an oriental shop that I go to, and bought some. You are right, it is cheaper! Funny story….. I was eating some at work one night, and one of the nurses walked by & started sniffing. He stopped & said that he smelled kimchi and looked at my salad. I told him that I was eating it. He then told me his mother is Korean and makes it all the time. He brought me in a jar of it. It really is great stuff! It really does what it’s supposed to, if you know what I mean! ๐Ÿ˜‰ .

        I can’t wait to try my own now. I used it in a pretty unconventional way the other day. I had a turkey burger, and wanted to spice it up a little. I put some in my bullet, and pureed it, then added some light mayo & whipped it up a little more. What an amazing spread it turned out to be! Pretty sure it would work the same way with some white beans for a dip for celery. I just may give it a try!

        • That’s fortunate! Most of my coworkers smell the kimchi and make me leave the room. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Your idea sounds awesome! You also gave me the idea to just slap some kimchi on a burger, but the kimchi mayo sounds delicious. I may have to try that with some beans!


  5. It would be helpful if the nutritional content was included with your recipes. Or has this been done and I haven’t found it?

    • Thanks for your comment, Maria. No, you haven’t missed anything. A few people have asked for nutritional information, and I may yet add it. However, I intentionally DIDN’T add it to my recipes because if you read about the slow-carb diet in The 4 Hour Body, one of the great things about it is a lack of need to count calories. In reality, when we’re eating the appropriate food, it’s nearly impossible for us to overconsume calories. In fact, the people I’ve talked to who have had the most success with slow-carb and paleo have not counted calories at all. They ate until they were full and then stopped.

      While I realize that there are people that count calories, it’s not a practice I want to promote because I don’t find it contributes to a healthy relationship to food. However, enough people are asking for it that I’m considering it. ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. julioalarcon says

    What’s the difference between Kimchi and Saurkraut.

    • It’s like the difference between Mexican chorizo and German bratwurst. They’re both made from frementing cabbage (though traditionally different cabbages), but they come out totally different. Sauerkraut ends up with a more vinegary taste. Kimchi is spicy, garlicky, and gingery. I’ve got some homemade versions of both in my fridge right now!

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