Introduction: Dry Brined Spicy Kimchi

I have seen some other Kimchi recipes on this site that did a 'wet' brine. I tried that method once but prefer this 'dry' brine method.

I have been making it this way for a couple of years now and it always comes out great!

If you are interested in learning more about the health benefits of kimchi, this is a pretty good article: Health Benefits of Kimchi

Step 1: Equipment Used to Make Dry Brined Spicy Kimchi

Over the years, I have accumulated this equipment that makes it easy to prepare kimchi (clockwise from top of picture):

  • Strainer for draining
  • Large bowl for mixing the kimchi
  • Spatula to aid in mixing
  • Fermentation lids
  • Wide mouth quart size mason jars
  • Pickle Packer

The fermentation lids are quite useful to allow the build up of air to escape while keeping air out during the fermentation process.

The pickle packer is necessary to make sure all the air is removed since you want to grow the anaerobic (good) bacteria (not the aerobic bad stuff that rots it.)

If you need lids and / or a pickle packer, see here:

Fermentation Lids

Pickle Packer

Step 2: Ingredients

For 1 batch - approximately 1 1/4 quarts:

  • 2 - 2 1/4 lb Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup distilled water
  • 2 tbls. Kosher salt
  • 1 - 2 tbls. Korean chili powder - gochuguru
  • 2 green onions
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbls. minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp. sugar (I use turbinado)
  • 2 tbls. Fish sauce (optional - omit for vegan version)

If you want to buy some of these items online, here are links to the stuff I buy online:

Korean pepper flakes - gochuguru

Fish Sauce

Step 3: Prep and Salt Cabbage

Cut the napa cabbage into 4 lengthwise sections. You can remove any outer leaves that are wilted. Some people say you should rinse the cabbage - I never do, but I do check it for cleanliness and wipe off any dirt I see.

Next remove the hard cores and the end of each section, Slice down the middle and across into 1 - 2 inch pieces.

Place into the large bowl and toss with the 2 tbls. of Kosher salt.

Let it sit for around 50 minutes - tossing occasionally and massaging with your hands (clean) so it starts to 'shrink'.

You can see the difference between the last 2 pictures.

Meanwhile, prep the rest of the ingredients.

Step 4: Prep Other Ingredients

Mince the ginger - TIP: use the edge of a spoon to scrape off the skin on the ginger.

(Note: leftover piece of ginger can be frozen - take it out of the freezer while the cabbage is sitting)

Mince the garlic.

Combine the ginger, garlic, Korean pepper flakes, fish sauce (if using) in a small bowl and set aside.

Note: start with 1 tbls of the Korean pepper flakes and if not spicy enough, you can add more in your next batch. (Or, go for the full 2 tbls if you like it really spicy!)

Slice the yellow onion into thin slices and cut green onions into 1 - 2 inch pieces.

Step 5: Drain Cabbage and Assemble

Place the salted cabbage in a colander and let drain for about 10 minutes occasionally squeezing the cabbage to get out as much water as possible.

Place it into the large bowl and add the prepared other ingredients.

Mix thoroughly with the spatula until the other ingredients are well distributed.

Step 6: Pack and Ferment

Start filling the mason jars and use the pickle packer to smash down the mixture to eliminate as much air as possible. It should form a thin layer of liquid as you do this.

When 1 jar is packed up to about 1 inch below the top, stop and fill the other jar. I usually end up with about 1/4 to a 1/3 of the second jar filled.

Use some distilled water to rinse out the bowl and pour the water into the jars to give them a nice liquid layer.

Screw on the tops with the fermentation lids.

Set aside for 3 to 5 days watching to make sure they don't dry out on top. If they look dry, just open them up and pack them down a little again.

Try after 3 days to see if it is sour enough for you - if it is, put in the refrigerator and enjoy!

I take off the fermentation lids and use the normal lids when I put them in the refrigerator.

Keeps in the refrigerator for months - but mine never lasts more than a couple of months.

Step 7: Recap of Ingredients and Directions


2 ¼ lb. (approx.) Napa cabbage, base cut off and split in quarters and cut into 2” X 1” pieces

¼ cup Distilled water

2 tbls. Kosher salt

2 tbls. Korean chili powder – gochuguru

2 each Green onions cut into 1” pieces

3 cloves Minced garlic

1 tbls. Minced fresh ginger (from the freezer)

¼ med. Onion sliced thinly

1 tsp. Sugar (turbinado)

2 tbls. Fish sauce (optional)


1. Put chopped napa cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with the kosher salt. Mix in well. Let sit for at least 50 minutes occasionally squeezing / massaging to press out water.

2. Move to colander and press out water again. Let drain for 15 minutes or so while you prep the other ingredients. (Note: rinse off any visible salt with distilled water if needed)

3. In the large bowl, mix garlic, ginger, gochuguru, sugar, with fish sauce and allow to sit for a while.

4. Add green onions and sliced onions with the cabbage to the mixture and mix very well with a spoon or spatula.

5. Put in quart glass container pressing with wooden presser. Add distilled water to bowl and swish around to get remaining paste and pour into the container.

6. Seal with the fermentation lids.

7. Set aside for 3 to 5 days tasting after 3 days. Check daily to make sure cabbage is submerged and remove any scum that may appear. Refrigerate when ready to eat.