Forget Sourdough, Let's Make Kimchi!

by Susan L. Shin

As we all adjusted to the new lifestyles mandated by the pandemic, there seemed to be a massive sourdough bake-off across the country. If you’re one of the many who couldn’t get your hands on flour or yeast, why not make kimchi instead! 

Kimchi always seemed unattainable to me, with its mysterious ingredients, fermenting and squatting…. But a couple of months into the quarantine, I followed Maangchi’s fresh kimchi recipe (geotjeori) and realized it is so much easier than I ever thought and the result was nothing short of amazing!  

All the ingredients are from our local grocery store or Amazon (fish sauce and red pepper flakes).  It is delicious to make kimchi and serve it right away, and after a week or two in the fridge it then starts to ferment and turn perfectly acidic.

Kimchi is so healthy and now there’s evidence that it even protects against Covid-19. We ate it with every meal—even the non-Korean ones—so this batch was gone before it had a chance to ferment! 

Here is the recipe I used to make kimchi and some pictures along the way.  

No Frills Fresh Kimchi (Geotjeori)

(Adapted from Maangchi’s recipe for Geotjeori)


(Can be halved for 1 head of cabbage)

*Highly recommended:


Classic Kimchi vs Fresh Kimchi (Geotjuri):

Though these two kinds of kimchi look very much alike, there are a few key differences:

  • – Fresh Kimchi is quicker to make and usually made in smaller batches
  • – Fresh Kimchi can be eaten right away but won’t last as long in the refrigerator
  • Classic Kimchi needs about a week’s worth of fermentation time but will last for months
  • Classic Kimchi is used for cooking in recipes like Kimchi Jjigae and Kimchi Bokeum Bap


  • Trim the discolored outer leaves of napa cabbage.
  • Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters and remove the cores. 
  • Chop it up into bite size pieces.

  • Soak the pieces of cabbage in cold water and put the soaked cabbage into a large basin. Sprinkle salt.
  • *tip: 3/4 cup of kosher salt will be used for 7-8 pounds of napa cabbage
  • Every 10 minutes, turn the cabbage over to salt evenly (total salting time will be 30 minutes).
  • 30 minutes later, rinse the cabbage in cold water 3 times to clean it thoroughly.
  • Drain the cabbage and set aside.

Make Porridge:

  • In a small saucepan add fish sauce, water, flour, and sugar. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon.
  • Cover and heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Put the mixture in the freezer and let it cool down for 20-30 minutes.

Make Kimchi Paste:

  • Place the porridge into a large bowl.
  • Add gochugaru (hot pepper flakes), minced garlic, minced ginger, and minced onion. Mix well.

*Tip: It’s much easier to use a food processor to grind the garlic, ginger, and onion all at once.

  • Add chopped green onions and carrot and stir well.

  • Mix all ingredients well and your kimchi paste is done.

Action! Mix the cabbage with the kimchi paste!

Put the kimchi paste in a large basin and add all the cabbage. Mix it by hand.

*Tip: If your basin is not large enough to mix all the ingredients at once, use two bowls or mix it in batches. I used two 6 qt mixing bowls.

Put the kimchi into an air-tight sealed plastic container or glass jar.

This recipe is meant to be eaten right away but will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Whether you eat now or later, you’ll be glad you made the decision to make kimchi. This healthy treat beats sourdough any day of the week!

susan shin

Susan L. Shin is a litigation partner at an international law firm. She resides in New York City with her husband Robert Shin and two children Ella and Owen.

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