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Say Kimchi!

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

As kimchi is fermented food, its flavour is quite closely related to the land where it is made. I found Korean or American recipes doesn't work 100% in Cape Town.

This  recipe is for my friends and fellow food lovers here in Cape Town, or somewhere similar.

I have tested and tried different ingredients and different methods to make consistent flavour closed to the traditional Kimchi in Seoul, Korea.

Preparation time 1 hour (excluding soaking for 3-6 hours)

Cooking time 1 hours


  • 3l water

  • 330g sea salt (must be adjusted by weather, hotter more, colder less)

  • 4-5kg Asian cabbages (2-4 depends on the season)


  • 1/2 cup of Instant Meize meal / Rice flour / Sweet rice flour

  • 1/2 Onion

  • 5-10 spring onions, white parts only (Reserve greens for later)

  • 3 pre soaked shiitake mushrooms or 1 tablespoon of dried mushroom powder

  • Kombu (optional)

  • dried anchovy or bokom (optional)

Kimchi paste

  • 1 cup of Gochugaru, Korean chilli powder (If it is difficult to get this, skip and make white Kimchi or mix Kashmir chilli, medium hot chilli and paprika powder and 1/2tsp of tomato paste as Korean chilli powder has umami and a little bit of sweetness)

  • 5 cloves of Garlic (about 50g, fresh ones)

  • 1/2 thumb of Ginger (about 15-20g, freshly grated)

  • 1 Onion (about 200g)

  • 5 spring onions (Green parts from above about 80g)

  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar or 100g Granny Smith apple/Greener kind of pear

  • 1/2 cup of Fish Sauce (optional, Thai fish sauce is fine. I don't use it at all. )

  • 2 table spoons of Dried shrimps/Prawn/Crab powder (optional. When you cook/eat these, roast & dry the shells in oven in low temp. and blend it. Keep in freezer in zipper bag. I use this to substitute fermented shrimp sauce in my mother's recipe. )

Optional ingredients

  • 300- 500g Radish (Japanese dikon is preferable, but small red round ones are fine.)

  • Mustard leaves

  • Sesame seeds

  • Pine nuts


 Blender, colander, big glass or BPA free plastic container


  1. Chop cabbages at the bottom side by cutting in cross. Remove core and chop as you like. Rinse.

  2. Mix 3l water and 330g sea salt in one of your clean sink bowl. Put chopped cabbages in and leave until thick part of cabbage is a bit soft. It takes 3 to 6 hours depending on the weather and cabbages.

  3. If you separate thick part form thin part and sprinkle extra salt to the thick parts, the result is more even.

  4. Make broths for the starter. In a pot, Add 500ml water, 1/2 onion, 5-10 spring onions (white parts only), 3 pre soaked shiitake mushrooms, Kombu, dried anchovy or bokom, Heat gently for  5-10 minutes and sieve. Mix 1/2 cup of Instant Meize meal (or Rice powder / Sweet rice powder or stale bread) and broths until there is no rump. Cook it until it thickens. This is a starter.

  5. Make Kimchi paste by blending 1 cup of Korean chilli powder, 5 clove of garlic, 1/2 thumb of ginger,1 roughly chopped onion, 5 spring onions, 1/2 cup of fish sauce, 2 Tablespoons of Sugar, 2 table spoons of Dried shrimps/Prawn/Crab powder and starter from above.

  6. If you want to add extra vegetables such as carrot and daikon, wash, cut into strips and mix with the paste. Some vegetables are getting musher easily when they are fermented. So try carefully.

  7. When cabbage is soft and seasoned enough by taste, remove salt water. I usually use colander. If the cabbage is too salty for your taste, rinse briefly. If it is not salty enough, reserve some salt water with cabbage. Perfectly brined cabbage has a balance of saltiness and sweetness.

  8. Mix the paste and cabbage gently. Add some sesame seeds and pine nuts if you like. I found microorganism around people and ingredients in SA behave a bit differently from Korea.If you have any leftover kimchi juice from our kimchi, please add a little to make sure the same microbes are growing in your kimchi.

  9. Place Kimchi in a sanitised glass container, and leave in room temperature overnight. In winter maybe a little longer. If it is very hot and you smell the difference, you can move your jar to the fridge sooner.

  10. Taste it and season more salt or sugar if necessary.

  11. Keep in refrigerator until it is slightly sour. I personally prefer longer fermentation in colder temperature under 5 degree C.

How to eat : Eat as it is or make Kimchi soup/stew, fried rice, savoury pan cakes. It goes really well with tofu or pork! 

Written by Sepial Shim. 


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