Easy Fresh “Quick Fix” Kimchi


“We reject certain food because it is rotten. Certain food we can see is fresh. But there is this creative space between fresh food and rotten food where most of human culture’s most prized delicacies and culinary achievements exist.” –Sandor Katz, The Art of Fermentation.

Easy Fresh “Quick Fix” Kimchi

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 pints  |  Total time: 45 min
Print Recipe

Mention “kimchi” and watch many people squinch up their nose.  Admittedly, it has a bit of a stinky reputation but I love just when it’s about to turn funky yet still maintains crunch and vigor.  For the kimchi averse, I came up with this quick recipe that does not require fermentation as traditional kimchi does. Although, you can let it sit, sealed, in the refrigerator for up to several weeks, just make sure the vegetables are immersed in the liquid.  I like to make this with Napa cabbage, bok choy, or green cabbage.  Many recipes call for a sweet rice paste to help bind the spices to the cabbage, but you can also use pear juice, which I’ve included here.  For more delicate palates, *reduce the amount of chile powder.

Serve with Pork Belly BBQ, as a side salad to grilled meats and fish, on tacos or sandwiches, pureed into soups, or simply over steamed rice with a fried egg (see below).

NOTE: This is a sneak peek into my new cookbook, to be published next May by Andrews McMeel.




1 medium to large head Napa cabbage  (about 2 pounds) trimmed of any loose or discolored leaves

2 tablespoons sea salt

3/4 cup gochugaru (coarse Korean chile powder), reduce to 1/2 cup for a less spicy version*

1 to 2 tablespoons ground chile paste, such as Sambal Oelek

2 tablespoons light soy sauce

1 firm but ripe pear (preferably Asian), cored and chopped

1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

4 to 6 cloves garlic

1/4 cup coarsely grated ginger

4 carrots (about 6 ounces), cut into 2-inch matchsticks

1 medium Daikon radish, cut into 2-inch matchsticks



  1. Cut the cabbage lengthwise into quarters; remove the core, and chop into about 1–inch-wide (bite size) pieces.  Place 1/2 of the cabbage in a large colander placed in the sink; sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over.  Add the remaining cabbage and top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of salt.  Let sit 10 minutes. Using tongs or hands, turn the cabbage so that the bottom layer is on top; let sit another 10 minutes.   Rinse the cabbage, drain thoroughly, and pat or spin dry in a salad spinner.
  2. Combine the gochugaru, chile paste, soy sauce, pear, fish sauce, if using, garlic, and ginger in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until just blended.  NOTE: The mixture will be a bit chunkier, but you could also mash everything with a potato masher or in a mortar and pestle if you don't feel like pulling out the food processor.  Pour the mixture into a large bowl.  Add the carrot and radish; toss to combine.  Add the salted and drained cabbage; toss to combine.  Let sit, covered, in refrigerator 30 minutes. Drain again.  This can be stored, with a tight-fitting lid, in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.  It’s still good up to a few weeks or so but will start getting a little funky and taste more like the fermented kimchi of ill repute.


To Serve:  One of my favorite ways to eat this Basic Fresh Kimchi, which is more of a salad than traditional buried kimchi, is to serve it over steamed rice (short grain Sushi rice) with a sloppy fried egg on top, and maybe some roasted seaweed.

Date Published: May 20, 2013

All recipes have been tested by the Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.

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