Green Kimchi Guide: Recipes, Pairing Ideas & Storage Tips

Imagine diving into a world where every crunch is a burst of freshness and every bite takes you on a flavor journey. That’s the magic of green kimchi, a vibrant twist on the traditional Korean kimchi that usually stars fiery red chili peppers. This version, however, brings the spotlight to crisp, fresh greens like kale, mustard greens, or even bok choy, giving it a unique texture and a milder taste that’s perfect for kimchi beginners or those who prefer a gentler heat.


For your green kimchi, you’ll start with a selection of fresh vegetables and a blend of flavorsome ingredients to create the perfect seasoning paste.

Green Cabbage

  • 1 medium-sized green cabbage (about 2 pounds), cored and chopped
  • 1/4 cup salt (for salting cabbage)
  • 12 cups cold water (for soaking cabbage)

Seasonings and Spices

  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup water (preferably filtered)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded carrot (optional for a touch of sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (for an aromatic lift)

Equipment Needed

To make your green kimchi, you’ll need a few essential pieces of kitchen equipment that will help streamline the process. Here’s what you should gather before you start:

  • Large Mixing Bowl: This will be used for mixing the cabbage and greens with the seasoning paste. Ensure it’s large enough to hold all the vegetables comfortably.
  • Food Processor or Blender: Needed to blend the ginger, garlic, and other seasoning ingredients into a fine paste.
  • Kitchen Gloves: Optional but highly recommended, especially if you have sensitive skin. Handling ginger and garlic can be a bit harsh on your skin.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurately measuring out the seasoning ingredients.
  • Glass Jars with Airtight Lids: You will need one or several jars depending on the quantity of kimchi you plan to make. These jars will be used for fermenting and storing the kimchi.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: Essential for chopping the green cabbage, carrots, cilantro, and green onions.

Preparation Steps

Now that you’re equipped with both the ingredients and necessary kitchen tools, let’s start preparing the green kimchi. Follow these detailed steps to ensure your kimchi turns out perfect.

Cleaning and Slicing the Cabbage

  1. Begin by removing the outer leaves of the green cabbage. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  2. Place the cabbage on a clean cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice the cabbage into quarters and remove the hard core from each piece.
  3. Chop the quarters into 2-inch wide strips. Transfer these cabbage strips into a large mixing bowl, making sure it’s spacious enough to accommodate mixing and salting.

Salting the Cabbage

  1. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of coarse sea salt evenly over the cabbage strips. Use your hands (wear kitchen gloves to protect your skin from any irritation) to gently massage the salt into the cabbage. This process not only seasons the cabbage but also softens it, which is crucial for traditional kimchi.
  2. Let the salted cabbage sit for about 2 hours. During this period, the cabbage will begin to soften and release water. Periodically toss the cabbage every 30 minutes to ensure it salts evenly.
  3. After 2 hours, rinse the cabbage strips under cold water to remove excess salt. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the cabbage by hand, to prepare it for the seasoning mix.

Making the Seasoning Paste

Preparing the seasoning paste is a vital step to infuse your green kimchi with distinctive, savory flavors without overpowering the natural taste of the greens.

Preparing Garlic and Ginger

Start by peeling three cloves of garlic and a 2-inch piece of ginger. Mince both finely to ensure they blend smoothly into the paste. This small size helps in releasing their essential oils, maximizing their aroma and flavor in the paste.

Mixing the Ingredients

Transfer the minced garlic and ginger to a large mixing bowl. Add two tablespoons of fish sauce, providing the umami depth crucial to kimchi. Incorporate one tablespoon of sugar to balance the saltiness and three tablespoons of water — this helps in diluting the fish sauce and sugar without diluting the intensity of the flavors. Stir all the ingredients until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture becomes homogenous. Your seasoning paste is now ready to be combined with the prepared vegetables.

Assembling the Kimchi

Now that your seasoning paste is ready and your vegetables are prepped, it’s time to bring everything together to form your green kimchi.

Applying the Paste

Start by putting on your kitchen gloves to protect your hands from any irritation. Scoop a generous amount of the seasoning paste with your gloved hands and apply it to the cabbage leaves. Ensure each leaf is coated evenly by gently massaging the paste into the leaves. This not only ensures that every bite is flavorful, but also helps in the fermentation process by allowing the flavors to penetrate deeply into the vegetables.

Proper Layering

After each leaf is thoroughly coated, begin the layering process. Place a layer of the seasoned leaves at the bottom of your airtight glass jar. Compress them slightly to remove any trapped air. Continue this process, adding layers of the coated cabbage, pressing down firmly with each addition to ensure minimal air pockets within the jar. This tight packing is crucial as it helps in creating an anaerobic environment necessary for proper fermentation. Once the jar is filled, pour any remaining seasoning left in your mixing bowl over the top, then seal the jar tightly.

Fermentation Process

Now that you’ve tightly packed your green kimchi in the jar, you’re ready to dive into the fermentation process. This is where the magic happens, transforming crisp greens into a tangy and flavorful delicacy.

Initial Fermentation Period

Set your jar at room temperature to kickstart the fermentation. This step is crucial as it allows the beneficial bacteria to begin breaking down the sugars in the cabbage, enhancing the flavor and texture of your kimchi. Aim to keep the jar in a dark, cool spot away from direct sunlight, which can interfere with the fermentation. Ideally, the temperature should be maintained between 65°F to 75°F (about 18°C to 24°C).

For the first two days, open the jar once daily to release gases that build up as a natural part of the fermentation process. This not only prevents pressure from building inside the jar but also gives you the chance to press down the cabbage, ensuring that it remains submerged in its own juice, which is critical to prevent unwanted mold.

After about 1 to 5 days at room temperature, taste your kimchi. If it has achieved a level of tanginess that pleases your palate, it’s time to slow down the fermentation.

Storing for Long-Term Fermentation

Once your kimchi has reached your desired flavor and acidity, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. This cooler environment significantly slows the fermentation process, allowing flavors to meld beautifully without the kimchi becoming overly sour too quickly.

You can safely store your green kimchi in the refrigerator for up to 5 months. During this time, the flavors will continue to develop, but at a much slower pace. Remember to use a clean spoon each time you take some out of the jar to maintain freshness and extend its shelf life. Keep the lid tightly sealed to preserve the quality and freshness of your kimchi.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of making green kimchi, explore the diverse ways to enjoy this versatile Korean condiment. Green kimchi, with its milder flavor profile, pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes, enhancing them with its unique texture and subtly tangy taste.

Pair with Traditional Korean Meals

Green kimchi makes a perfect side dish for staple Korean foods. Serve it alongside a steaming bowl of white rice, grilled meats, or tofu to add a refreshing crunch and light spiciness to your meal. Its less fiery taste complements the savory flavors without overpowering them.

Incorporate into Modern Fusion Dishes

Experiment with green kimchi in your sandwiches, burgers, or tacos for an innovative twist. The crisp texture and tangy flavor of the kimchi can dramatically lift the overall taste of these dishes. Try adding a hearty scoop on a pulled pork sandwich or as a topping for your next taco night; you’ll be surprised at how well it melds with different cuisines.

Use as a Base for Kimchi Pancakes

Transform your leftover green kimchi into delicious kimchi pancakes, known as ‘kimchijeon’. Mix chopped kimchi with flour, water, and a few simple seasonings, and pan-fry the mixture until crisp and golden. These pancakes are ideal for a quick snack or a savory breakfast option.

Create a Flavorful Salad Base

For a refreshing salad, chop the green kimchi and mix it with fresh vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, and carrots. The kimchi adds a zest that enlivens the salad, making it a perfect light meal or side dish, especially during the warmer months.

Add to Soups and Stews

Enhance your soups and stews by adding a few tablespoons of green kimchi for depth and a burst of flavor. It works particularly well in brothy or clear soups where its flavors can subtly permeate throughout the dish.


So there you have it! Green kimchi isn’t just a fantastic way to add a twist to your meals—it’s a versatile, flavorful addition that can transform your cooking. Whether you’re spicing up a traditional dish or experimenting with new culinary creations, green kimchi brings a unique zest that’s hard to match. Give it a try in your next kitchen adventure and see just how much it enhances your dishes. Your taste buds will thank you!

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