Kim Chee Recipe

Kim Chee is a traditional Korean fermented condiment consumed at almost every meal. But why eat fermented vegetables? See this brief post on the importance of including homemade fermented foods in your diet. Then, try this simple, adaptable recipe.



The following vegetables are sliced very thinly and cross cut, when needed, to about 2″ long:

  • 2 heads Chinese cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1 medium sized parsnip, peeled
  • 1 large red or orange sweet pepper, seeded
  • 1 medium daikon radish or 6 French Breakfast radishes
  • 2″ length of ginger, peeled

Also prepare:

  • 6 green onions, chopped into 1/4″ lengths
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced
  • 1/4 cup organic sea salt or kosher rock salt


1. Slice & cross cut the Chinese cabbage. Place in a ceramic or stainless steel bowl, sprinkle with all of the salt, cover with water. Set aside for at least 4 hours.

2. Prepare all of the other ingredients.

3. Pour off the salt water from the Chinese cabbage. Refill the container, pour out the water. Repeat. (The goal is to remove most of the salt.) Drain.

4. Combine all of the vegetables and mix well.

5. Option A: Put all of the ingredients into a crock pot. Place cabbage leaves over the top, and weight with a heavy plate, flat stone or other weight. (You only need a couple of pounds. I have a crock for making sauerkraut that includes a ceramic weight.) Cover with a lid or with a kitchen towel.

Option B: Put all of the ingredients into several wide mouth canning jars, pressing the vegetables in as you add layers. Leave about 1/2″ of space at the top. Put on the lids.

6. Set the container(s) on a counter in a warm part of the house. Leave for 48 hours, or longer. Then enjoy!

The vegetables will continue to ferment over time. Kim Chee, unlike German sauerkraut, is meant to be eaten partially crispy, so it requires less fermentation time. However, you can get softer vegetables and increased flavor if you let it ferment longer.

To drastically slow down the fermentation process, put the Kim Chee in your refrigerator.

My preference: I ferment for 3 days in the crock pot, then ladle the vegetables into wide mouth quart mason canning jars, pressing lightly as I add layers. One goes into the refrigerator for easy access; the others go onto a shelf to continue fermenting until another is needed in the refrigerator.

Note: There is no set recipe for Kim Chee. I have several recipes with different ingredients. The common elements are Chinese cabbage, ginger, hot peppers, and (daikon) radish. Beyond that, what you include is up to you.

One recipe calls for adding a green pear, diced; another calls for using a ripe pear, diced. I have not yet tried adding pear, but I am wondering how Kim Chee would taste with a tart Granny Smith apple.

I also have a recipe that calls for just the common elements, while another includes carrots, onions, and garlic cloves, and a third calls for 2 teaspoons of hot chili powder rather than the fresh hot peppers.

Because I like lots of fermented vegetables, my recipe includes a wide range; but it varies, depending upon what I have on hand. I also like the sweetness imparted by including red pepper – it creates a great flavor contrast to the spiciness generated by the hot jalapeno pepper, onion and ginger combination.