Baek (White) Kimchi

Kimchi, a Korean fermented pickle, is well known for it’s red colour and spicey flavour. This version of kimchi, baek means white, is actually probably older than the better known version, but just as delicious.

kimchi text

In my hometown in Canada, there has been a Korean restaurant or two at all times in the last 15 years or so. Buses full of Koreans come on tours through the Rocky Mountains, and they stop at the Korean restaurants, keeping the business running in a small town. These restaurants were my first introduction to metal chopsticks (harder than wood), lettuce rice wraps (so good), and sweet potato noodles (love. miss.).

My parents knew the owner of one of the restaurants, and my father called  her  up when we went there once as a family on one of my visits home. For us, she cooked real Korean food as opposed to the versions made for an American palate. What. A. Feast. Little dishes of various condiments, marinated beef still on the hot plate, dandelion kimchi, and those amazing noodles. The table was covered with various dishes that we shared. I rarely go to restaurants and am even more rarely impressed, but I still have visions about that meal.

Kimchi is a staple in Korea and I think it’s the cat’s meow that a fermented veggie is a national staple. According to a video I watched, 94% of Koreans have it every day, and 96% make it themselves instead of buying it in a store.

(What if 96% of North Americans and Europeans made their own yogurt? Or sauerkraut? Dreaming…but I digress.)

The video focused on gimjang, the communal gathering to make the year’s supply of kimchi. “Many hands make light work” goes the proverb, both because there are more people to do the job as well as the camaraderie. The fruit of the work is shared with neighbours and those less fortunate.

I found it comforting that each region had it’s own way of making kimchi. Some included fish broth, others pumpkin. Some fish sauce, other soy sauce. It made me feel like any kimchi recipe I might make up was my own regional version, instead of supplanting the original.

Watch the video, if you can, which I posted on my Facebook wall. It’s full of gems (like the root vegetable storage made of straw in the fields). You must be logged into your personal Facebook account in order to see it.

This version of white kimchi is made with simple ingredients that I can find. Looking around at other recipes, there was a pretty exotic ingredient list, calling for things like dropwort and jubjube fruit…I’ve never even seen those.

I’ve included two methods for making kimchi. The first method is the traditional method, and is pictured here. The second method is faster and easier, which is always a win in my books and is usually how I make it. It also uses much less salt overall.
The first few times I made kimchi the kids were cautious, but this time around two out of four were wolfing it down!

Baek (White) Kimchi


This recipe is part of the 31 Days of Probiotics and Fermenting.

Baek (White) Kimchi


  • 1 head napa cabbage
  • salt (amount depends on method)
  • 1 small daikon or large round white radish (about 200g)
  • 2 med. carrots (about 200g)
  • bunch green onion
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3cm/1.5 inch chunk ginger
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce (paleo/AIP) or tamari (vegan)


    Method 1 (traditional)
  1. Make 15-20% salt brine. Dechlorinate water, either by leaving in an open container overnight, boiling, or filtering. For every liter water, add 150-200g salt. I needed 3 liters, so added in about 500g of salt.
  2. Cut napa cabbage in half lengthwise. Submerge under water and let soak for 12 or so hours.
  3. Take cabbage out of salt water and rinse under running water. Take off 4-6 outside leaves, then slice each cabbage half in half again lengthwise. Spread out in a colander and let drain for an hour.
  4. Meanwhile, julienne radish, carrots, and green onion into 5 cm/2 inch lengths.
  5. Peel ginger and garlic and mince finely. I put both through a garlic press, or you could blend it in a mini food processor.
  6. Mix vegetables, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce or tamari together, and stuff between the individual leaves of the cabbage.
  7. Fold the cabbage in half lengthwise, so it is almost a roll, and use the outer leaves you took off before to wrap around the roll so that it holds.
  8. Put it in a jar or container and push down, pushing down with each subsequent roll.
  9. Add in any leftover vegetables, and top with 2% brine (20g salt/liter water) if needed, so that all the vegetable matter is below liquid.
  10. Put a lid on, cover with a towel (if in a clear jar) and sit at room temperature. How long depends on the temperature of the room and your individual taste. It is faster than sauerkraut - I let mine sit for five days.
  11. When the taste is to your liking, remove the jar to the fridge to slow down fermentation.
  12. Method 2 (lazy, I mean, faster)
  13. Cut napa cabbage in quarters lengthwise, the bottom white part into half again, then into 4cm/2inch chunks. Put the stiff white part in a large bowl, and set the green leafy part aside until later.
  14. Matchstick carrots, radish, green onion and add to bowl.
  15. Peel garlic and ginger and mince finely. I put them through a garlic press, or you can blend in a mini food processor.
  16. Add 3-4 g of salt per pound of vegetables to the cabbage mixure.
  17. Mix all vegetables, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce or tamari. Toss and massage for a few minutes, until the white part of the cabbage begins to wilt and juices start to come out, then add the green leafy part. If you don't feel you have enough juice, let the vegetables sit for another 30 mins or so.
  18. Pack down into a jar, pressing hard on each layer. Top with 2% brine (20g salt/liter water) if needed. Make sure all the vegetable matter is below liquid.
  19. Put a lid on, cover with a towel (if in a clear jar) and sit at room temperature. How long depends on the temperature of the room and your individual taste. It is faster than sauerkraut - I let mine sit for five days.
  20. When the taste is to your liking, remove the jar to the fridge to slow down fermentation.

Have you had kimchi before?

Shared at AIP Paleo Recipe Roundup, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday