Ultimate Guide to Mustard Green Kimchi: Recipe, Storage, and Tips

Imagine diving into a dish that bursts with a unique blend of tangy, spicy, and slightly bitter flavors. That’s the magic of mustard green kimchi, a delightful twist on the traditional Korean kimchi. While cabbage is usually the star in classic kimchi, mustard greens bring a peppery kick that transforms the dish into something extraordinarily flavorful.

This version of kimchi hails from the vibrant culinary traditions of Korea, where fermenting vegetables is an art form. Mustard green kimchi is not just a side dish; it’s a cultural experience. It pairs wonderfully with grilled meats, adds zest to a bowl of steaming rice, or can simply be enjoyed on its own.


Mustard Greens

  • 2 pounds of mustard greens, washed and cut into 2-inch pieces


  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of coarse sea salt

The Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Asian pear or a medium-sized apple, grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Tools and Equipment Needed

Before you dive into creating your mustard green kimchi, ensure you have all the necessary tools and equipment to make the process smooth and enjoyable.

Kitchen Utensils

  • Large Bowl: You’ll need a large bowl to mix the mustard greens with the brine effectively. This bowl should be big enough to hold all ingredients without spilling.
  • Colander: After brining, you will use a colander to drain the mustard greens properly.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurement is key in kimchi-making, so ensure you have a set of measuring cups and spoons.
  • Kitchen Gloves: Since you’re working with Korean red pepper flakes and other spicy ingredients, wearing kitchen gloves can protect your hands from irritation.

Specialized Equipment

  • Glass Jars: To ferment the kimchi, you’ll need one or more glass jars depending on the batch size. Ensure they are clean and sterilized.
  • Mandoline Slicer or Sharp Knife: A mandoline slicer is handy for consistently slicing the onion and Asian pear or apple. If unavailable, a sharp knife will also do the job.
  • Mixing Spoon: You’ll need a sturdy spoon to mix all the ingredients thoroughly.
  • pH Meter: If you’re keen on achieving the perfect fermentation level, a pH meter can help you monitor the acidity.
  • Kimchi Presser: This tool helps to press down the kimchi as it ferments, ensuring that all pieces are submerged in the brine.


Embarking on your mustard green kimchi journey requires attentive preparation. Let’s walk through the necessary steps to set the stage for a successful fermentation.

Cleaning and Cutting the Mustard Greens

  1. Start by selecting fresh, vibrant mustard greens. Ensure they are free from blemishes and wilted leaves.
  2. Wash the mustard greens thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or residue. Shake off excess water.
  3. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline slicer, cut the mustard greens into 2-inch pieces. This size is ideal for ensuring that the greens can absorb the brine and seasonings evenly.
  4. Place the cut greens in a large bowl. Set aside as you prepare the brining solution.

Brining the Mustard Greens

  1. In a separate large container, prepare the brine by dissolving 1 cup of sea salt per 1 gallon of water. Make sure to stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
  2. Submerge the cut mustard greens in the brine. The salt will begin to draw out water from the greens, which is crucial for the kimchi’s texture and flavor development.
  3. Place a weight over the greens to keep them fully immersed. This can be a plate or a heavy object that fits inside your container.
  4. Allow the mustard greens to sit in the brine for about 8 to 12 hours. This process softens the greens and begins the fermentation process.
  5. After brining, drain the mustard greens in a colander and gently press to remove excess liquid.

Properly cleaning, cutting, and brining your mustard greens, you set a solid foundation for delicious and crispy mustard green kimchi.

Making the Seasoning Paste

Gather the Ingredients

To embark on creating the seasoning paste for your mustard green kimchi, start by assembling all the necessary ingredients. You will need:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small Asian pear or apple, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 cup of Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water (optional, depending on desired consistency)
  1. Combine Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, begin by combining the fish sauce, minced garlic, and grated Asian pear or apple. These components will form the liquid base of your paste, infusing it with layers of umami, sweetness, and a touch of zest.
  2. Add the Ginger and Onion: Next, add the minced ginger and chopped onion to the bowl. Ginger will introduce a warm, spicy note, while the onion offers a slight sharpness that complements the robust flavors of the mustard greens.
  3. Incorporate Dry Ingredients: Gradually stir in the Korean red pepper flakes and sugar. The pepper flakes will not only impart a vibrant red hue but also introduce a mild heat that is characteristic of kimchi. The sugar helps in balancing the spice and enhancing the fermentation process.
  4. Adjust Consistency: Check the consistency of your paste. If it appears too thick, you can add up to 1/2 cup of water to achieve a smoother, more spreadable mixture. Be cautious with the water addition; the goal is to create a paste that coats the greens evenly without being runny.
  5. Mix Thoroughly: Use a spoon or spatula to mix all the ingredients until they are well combined. Ensure that the sugar has dissolved completely and the mix is uniform. This blending is crucial, as it ensures every bite of your kimchi is deliciously seasoned.

Assembling the Kimchi

Now that you have your zesty seasoning paste ready, it’s time to combine it with the mustard greens to assemble your kimchi.

  1. Begin by thoroughly washing the mustard greens under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off excess water and set aside to dry slightly.
  2. While the greens are drying, revisit your seasoning paste, giving it a quick stir to ensure all the ingredients are well combined.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, layer about a third of the mustard greens, then spoon some of the paste over the greens. Use gloves to protect your hands from the spices, and massage the paste into the leaves, making sure each leaf is nicely coated.
  4. Repeat this process, adding more greens and paste in layers, until all the greens are well coated with the seasoning paste.
  5. Press the greens down firmly to pack them into the bowl. This helps in releasing some of the natural juices of the greens, which aids in the fermentation process.

Fermentation Process

Preparing the Mustard Greens

Begin by ensuring your mustard greens are thoroughly washed and the excess water is shaken off. You’ve already prepared your brine solution, where these leaves will now soak. Submerge the mustard greens in the brine, and let them sit covered at room temperature. Typically, a brining period of 8 to 12 hours is sufficient, turning them once or twice to ensure even salination.

Applying the Seasoning Paste

Once your greens are brined, drain them and gently squeeze out excess water—this helps the leaves better absorb the flavors. Take the seasoning paste that you’ve prepared earlier, and, wearing gloves, rub the paste evenly onto each leaf. Make sure to get into the crevices for even seasoning.

Packing for Fermentation

Now comes the vital part of packing the mustard greens for fermentation. Layer the seasoned greens in a clean, airtight container, preferably a glass or ceramic jar specifically used for fermenting. Press down on the greens as you go to remove air pockets, which could interfere with the fermentation process. Pour any leftover paste over the top.

Letting It Ferment

Seal the container tightly and leave it at room temperature to start the fermentation. After about two days, you should open the container to press down on the greens, helping release gases that build up during fermentation. This also aids in keeping the mustards greens submerged in their juices. For the initial fermentation, two to five days at room temperature is typical, depending on how tangy and fermented you prefer your kimchi.

Once this period is complete, move the kimchi to the refrigerator. This slows down the fermentation process and allows the flavors to continue developing. Your mustard green kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to several months, improving with age. Enjoy your kimchi cold, straight from the fridge, or as an accompaniment to your meals, infusing a traditional Korean flavor into your dishes.

Serving Suggestions

Once your mustard green kimchi has matured and is ready to enhance your meals, exploring various serving options can maximize its enjoyment. Here are some delightful ways to incorporate this uniquely spicy and tangy condiment into your culinary routine.

As a Side Dish

Kick off your Korean-style meal with mustard green kimchi served straight from the refrigerator. Its crisp texture and vibrant flavor make it a perfect complement to grilled meats like bulgogi or galbi. Arrange a small bowl on each plate to refresh the palate between bites.

In Traditional Korean Meals

Incorporate mustard green kimchi into a traditional Korean set table, known as banchan. Surround your main dishes with various kimchi types, including mustard green kimchi, to provide a range of flavors and intensities. This adds not only a colorful touch but also a variety of health benefits to your meal.

With Rice and Grains

Enhance a simple bowl of steamed white rice by topping it with a generous helping of mustard green kimchi. The piquancy of the kimchi beautifully cuts through the blandness of the rice, offering a harmonious balance. For a heartier option, mix it into a savory fried rice or incorporate it into grain bowls with quinoa or barley.

In Modern Fusion Dishes

Harness the bold flavors of mustard green kimchi by adding it to modern fusion dishes. It can be an excellent condiment for tacos, burgers, or hot dogs, introducing a Korean twist to these beloved classics. Its robust character stands up well to hearty, meaty flavors, elevating the overall taste profile.

As a Flavor Booster in Soups and Stews

Stir a spoonful of mustard green kimchi into soups and stews for an instant flavor uplift. It can transform a simple vegetable broth into a complex, flavor-rich bowl of comfort. Try it in traditional Korean stews like kimchi jjigae or budae jjigae to maintain the authentic flavors while adding a unique twist.

Enjoy exploring these diverse serving suggestions and discover the versatility of mustard green kimchi in your everyday cooking.

Storing and Shelf Life

Storing Your Kimchi

After your mustard green kimchi has fermented to your satisfaction, it’s crucial to store it properly to maintain its freshness and flavor. Transfer the kimchi into airtight containers, preferably glass jars. Ensure that the kimchi is fully submerged in its brine, as this helps to prevent any unwanted bacterial growth. Seal the containers tightly.


Place the sealed containers in the refrigerator, ideally at temperatures between 32°F to 39°F. This cooling process halts fermentation, preserving the kimchi’s current state of tanginess and crunch.

Shelf Life Considerations

Your mustard green kimchi can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months. Over time, the flavors will continue to develop, becoming more pronounced and complex. For optimal taste, consume your kimchi within this period, although it may still be safe to eat beyond this time frame if there are no signs of spoilage like mold or unusually foul odors.

Checking for Spoilage

Regularly check your kimchi for any signs of spoilage. While kimchi is a fermented product and can last for a considerable time, it’s still susceptible to spoilage if not stored correctly. Discard any kimchi that has visible mold or an off-smell.


Exploring the vibrant world of mustard green kimchi opens up a palette of flavors that can transform your meals. Whether you’re a seasoned kimchi aficionado or a newcomer eager to dive into Korean culinary traditions this variant promises a delightful experience. Remember the key to savoring its best qualities is in how you store it. Keep it chilled keep it sealed and always be on the lookout for any signs of spoilage. With these tips you’re all set to enjoy your homemade mustard green kimchi at its peak freshness and taste. Happy fermenting!

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