Skip to content

If I had to name my favorite cuisine, it would be a toss-up between Vietnamese and Korean. Both offer charbroiled meats, pickled or marinated vegetables, and a lively and sometimes spicy array of seasonings. What’s not to like?


Most unfamiliar ethnic foods become instantly accessible if you take a trip to a local shop to stock up on a few specific ingredients. It wasn’t until I learned about Moroccan spices that I realized that a tagine is basically a braise seasoned with specific spices mixed in the right combination, such as turmeric, paprika, saffron and ground ginger. Mexican food isn’t all that difficult if one familiarizes themselves with chilies, cilantro, and corn tortillas. Ok, and a nice hunk of pork shoulder as well.

Every time I go to a specialty market, whether it’s Mexican, Japanese, or Chinese, I invariably lug back bottles of vinegars, odd herbs, specialty sugars and some sort of backside-burning chili pastes home with me. The other day when I was at Tang Frères, the gigantic Asian market in Paris, I heard a voice calling out for me to make Korean bbq this weekend.

It was a little strange: unlike the usual voices I hear in my head, this one had a Korean accent. And it was insistent.

Then yet another voice chimed in and reminded me that I’d bookmarked a recipe that Aun at Chubby Hubby made: the most amazing-looking Vietnamese Pork Ribs in Caramel Sauce from Molly Steven’s book All About Braising. And I knew from what the doctors and lawyers told me after the sentencing phase that the only way to calm those voices in my head was sometimes to give in to their demands.

(Unlike the other voices that tell me to do all sorts of bad things—like clean my freezer or pay my bills, which I ignore.)

Since a French-accented little voice in my head has been riffing on caramel lately, once my mind started gearing up to sink my teeth into meltingly-soft caramelized pork, I raced over to the refrigerated case at Tang Frères, confident that kimchi would go into my shopping cart as well. If my brain, at this point, probably sounds to you like the United Nations General Assembly of food…imagine what it’s like for me.

But I couldn’t find any. No kimchi? Zip.


I’ve read that any Korean would be embarrassed to ‘buy’ kimchi, since it’s a staple of home-cooking. But since I’m not Korean, I don’t have that stigma. (Although all my Chinese friends insist I’m really Chinese, and we have our own stigmas.) And one stigma I’m over is the one against buying pickles.

Of course, they had everything but. So I grabbed the biggest head of Napa cabbage and, of course, being American, I bought way, way too many racks of ribs. Hey, if you’re gonna make ribs, you may as well make a lot of ’em. (What’s up with these recipes that call for 4 riblets per person? I’m thinking one rack per person.) No sooner had I left the market when I realized I had to lug all those ribs home on the métro, and learned another virtue of eating less: by the time I got home, I was certain my shoulder was going to fall off like the meat on the pork ribs.

I can imagine that people searching online for a kimchi recipe might stop here and wonder why they’ve landed on a site about Paris, chocolate, and baking. So I made sure the recipe had a little bit of sweetness so it makes the cut. And serving caramelized ribs alongside certainly doesn’t hurt my credibility either.

Now If I could only find some Parisians this weekend that have a hankering for Korean bbq and spicy pickles, I’d be in business. I’ve got 4 huge racks of pork ribs marinating in caramel sauce infused with plenty of sweet shallots, all set to go. I’ve got a couple of quarts of homemade kimchi and a few lengthy daikon radishes lined up for various banchan.

Oh, and a batch of just-churned milk chocolate ice cream as a cooling afterthought for dessert. There was another voice that told me to do that. But you already know about that one.



Recipe adapted from Epicurious and the San Francisco Chronicle (links below). I couldn’t find chili powder so I used some Thai chili paste, which made the kimchi a bit murky. If you can, try to find the Korean chile powder. I added a scant teaspoon of Mexican chile powder for color. Even though my arm was killing me from carrying home all that pork, I was a trooper and hand-chopped all the garlic and ginger. But I think it could also be done in a blender or food processor.
  • 1 large Chinese or Napa Cabbage
  • 1 gallon (4l) water
  • 1/2 cup (100g) coarse salt
  • 1 small head of garlic,, peeled and finely minced
  • one 2-inch (6cm) piece of fresh ginger,, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) chili paste or 1/2 cup Korean chili powder
  • 1 bunch green onions,, cut into 1-inch (3cm) lengths (use the dark green part, too, except for the tough ends)
  • 1 medium daikon radish,, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1. Slice the cabbage lengthwise in half, then slice each half lengthwise into 3 sections. Cut away the tough stem chunks.
  • 2. Dissolve the salt in the water in a very large container, then submerge the cabbage under the water. Put a plate on top to make sure they stay under water, then let stand for 2 hours.
  • 3. Mix the other ingredients in a very large metal or glass bowl.
  • 4. Drain the cabbage, rinse it, and squeeze it dry.
  • 5. Here’s the scary part: mix it all up.
  • Some recipes advise wearing rubber gloves since the chili paste can stain your hands.
  • 6. Pack the kimchi in a clean glass jar large enough to hold it all and cover it tightly. Let stand for one to two days in a cool place, around room temperature.
  • 7. Check the kimchi after 1-2 days. If it’s bubbling a bit, it’s ready and should be refrigerated. If not, let it stand another day, when it should be ready.
  • 8. Once it’s fermenting, serve or store in the refrigerator. If you want, add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds over the kimchi for serving.


Storage: Many advise to eat the kimchi within 3 weeks. After that, it can get too fermented.

Related Posts and Recipes

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork Ribs

Seoul Chicken Recipe (Great Korean-style chicken recipe)

Sweet and Crispy Chicken Wings

Korea’s Kimchi Addiction Catches On In the West (San Francisco Chronicle)

Korean Bulgogi and Kalbi: Korean BBQ (Steamy Kitchen)

Evil Jungle Prince (Korean recipes)

banchan (Wikipedia)

Traditional Napa Cabbage Kimchi (Epicurious)

Japanese pickles (Amazon)

Korea House (Visit to San Francisco Korean bbq)

Making kimchi (Cooking with Maangchi Video)

My Korean Kitchen (Korean recipes and cooking blog)

Kimchi (

Kimchi (My other recipe)


Making Perfect Asian Rice

Pajeon (Korean Scallion Pancake)


    • Joan

    Pity I won’t be in Paris until Feb 22nd; I LOVE Korean food, at least the little I have had of it… I’m sure you know that the kimchi making season is sacred in Korea and people get time off work – now that’s civilisation!!!
    Joan in grey Milan

    • E.

    David, I think I love you even more now that you say that you love Korean food! If your kimchi starts to get old, do what Koreans do and make kimchi soup with it. Delicious with rice and galbi (Korean shortribs). Or plain. That would be my last meal, if I somehow ended up on death row. Thanks from a Korean-American reader!

    • steamy kitchen

    I love Korea House too!
    Haven’t been there in forever.

    The first date with husband was Korean BBQ at “Bruddah Numba Two!” (Brother II)

    • michelle

    Molly Stevens’ ribs are high on my to-cook list. But as much as I love *The Perfect Scoop* and trust you, I can’t do kimchi!

    • Hillary

    Haha you must like korean food if you consider korean corn syrup a turn on. You crack me up.

    • umami

    As it ages, it takes on a more mellow yet tarter flavour, we much prefer it this way to fresh. We eat it as is, also stir fry with beef/chicken/pork, make kimchi fried rice, kimchi soup and rice rolls.

    Bravo for making your own kimchi, I’ve had Koreans tell me they are scared to make it themselves as, if the kimchi is not made properly or gets contaminated while fermenting the result would be too gross.

    My favourite place to buy kimchi is Hana, a Korean grocery in the 15th arr, opposite Odori one of my favourite Korean restaurant as it happens. They stock stuff that even ACE in the St Anne area doesn’t. And they have fresh kimchi, so so much better than the ones packed in silver retort pouches.

    • a Korean-American in Paris

    David, your kimchi looks great! so impressive!

    There’s a Korean market called Ace Mart on Rue Saint Anne where you can get the chili powder as well as kimchi and a variety of already made banchans. 10% off everything on Saturdays & Sundays.

    • Murasaki Shikibu

    You should have used gloves when you had to go to the toilet, David!

    • Jackie lee-kang

    David, I love reading you blog. It’s nice to know other people have voices in their head talking food!

    • Bob Spencer

    I use what I call a “Moroccan” spice. It consists of:
    1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
    1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    1 tablespoon paprika
    1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
    1 cinnamon stick
    1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
    1/2 tablespoon whole cloves

    I found the recipe on the internet (of course). It is so good, I use it in a variety of dishes, but it’s especially good with chicken! Garam Masala (an Indian spice) is very tasty also.

    • Judy in SATX

    I think I’ve just found my Valentine’s Day menu! My hubby is half-Korean and Ive been trying to make kimchi like his mom. Kimchi, rice and ribs sounds like a great combo and I get another reason to make caramel!

    • Tarah Taylor

    This doesn’t have anything to do with the above dish, BUT I cant seem to find non-pasteurized heavy cream for your delicious ice cream recipes, any ideas where I should look? Thanks for any help? I wish my ice cream maker made more at a time, my 4 boys and husband eat it so quickly I have to hide it so all get their fair share…..

    • Aimee

    Hey, we’re available to come over and try some of your Korean cuisine! :) I grew up eating kimchi, hand made by my mother. After school snacks often consisted of a warm bowl of rice with a little water in it and kimchi topping the rice. I grew up eating more Korean meals than typically American meals. Now that I live in Paris, I make some dishes myself. I am pretty good at making mondu, chap chae, kimchi chigae but I am not very good at making my own kimchi. I buy my kimchi at the local Korean market but I have been working up the courage to make my own kimchi. I like the recipe you posted. I think I’d add some seafood like my mom used to. Cuttlefish, mussels, whatever I can get my hands on. Also, adding some apple or pear makes for a sweet surprise in the kimchee. Finding that sweetness in the folds of the cabbage is a treat!

    If you have too much Kimchi you can always make a chigae or ragout or stew. It’s fairly easy, throw in veggies you like with some tofu. The juices from kimchi are good immune system boost. Also, if the kimchi turns a little and has too much of a bite to it, throw it into a frying pan and add some sugar or honey and sesame seeds and then serve it with noodles or stirfry in some beef. Makes great stirfy base.

    Enjoy your Korean meal, sounds lovely!

    • grace

    The only thing I’m homesick for is my mom’s kimchee and her stews while here in Paris. And, alas, I wanted to see what other goodness you had to divulge and here you talk about kimchee. =) I will try your recipe when I return home to Vancouver, David.

    • debinsf

    wow! This looks good, doesn’t sound that hard, but for some reason, scares the willies out of me to actually make. Like making kombucha or something. I can’t even use yeast past pizza dough. I fear the living foods. Must work on that because the are soooo good.

    • Juree


    Thanks so much for the Kimchi recipe! I just moved to Portland, Oregon from NYC last week and one of the things I will miss most is the easy access to the most wonderful Korean food. I am crazy for pickles, but Korean pickles in particular. I love making a quick cucumber kimchi, which only takes a few hours if you are in need of something quick!

    • Audrey

    It’ll be a lot different from the kind my mom usually makes, but I’ll definitely have to try this recipe out sometime!

    • Astoria

    *raises hand* I’ll volunteer to help you eat them! Sadly, I’m all the way in Singapore. Oh well.

    • B.

    My new favorite banchan to go alongside some pickles and kimchi is navel orange segments tossed in chili paste and soy sauce with a drop of sesame oil. Traditional, maybe not, but delicious and simple, yes!

    • Ellie

    1. No honey in kimchi. If you want added sweetness, you should add a grated nashi/asian pear and onion for authenticity, this will give added freshness to the flavour as well as boosting sweetness.

    2. Why are you spelling Korean chili powder with an ‘e’ at the end?

    3. Instead of resorting to Thai chili paste, I’d recommend using fresh red chillies instead, just grind them with the pear and onion and mix it all together.

    If you want to see my mother’s recipe for this dish, you can do so here

    • Youny

    Leftover kimchi makes a mean fried rice. If you have any leftover vegetables and meats, put them together in a wok or big pan, chopped up kimchi, put some short grain rice in the mix, and toss with a drop of sesame oil. Once thoroughly heated through, crack an egg on top and fry a little more and you have a great dish.

    Be careful not to let it sit for too long. Too much fermentation is a big no-no (you’ll realize that it’s much stinkier). If you do happen to get to that point, the fried rice is one way to get rid of it in a tasty way.

    Kimchi pancakes (kimchi bindaeduk) is also a great thing to eat. I’m sure you can google the recipe for more detailed recipes as I’m still trying to learn it myself!

    • c

    Ohhhhhh, kimchi. I seriously could live on simply rice with dwenjang chigae and my mother’s kimchi. My favorite part of kimchi is the tender inner leaves of the cabbage. Aimee, I completely agree about the kimchi additions. Oysters are freaking mind-blowing in kimchi.

    David, you’ll go through the two quarts in no time! The great thing about kimchi (and other pickled foods) is the development in texture and taste the longer it is kept. The first taste, both watery and crisp, almost overbearingly salty. After the first week, it becomes more tender and takes on that complex spicy-sweet flavor as the seasoning becomes more evenly distributed. After a couple of weeks, the kimchi is limp and totally saturated with pickle juice. As others have said, kimchi bokkeumbap (fried rice) and kimchi buchingae make excellent use of leftover kimchi.

    • David

    Hi Ellie: Thanks for the link and will check it out. It’s such a small amount of sugar, I figured I’d add it to help the fermentation along. Normally I’d use a bit of rock sugar, but I didn’t have any. The nashi sounds great.

    Curiously, the style sheet from my publisher says that for Mexican food, you use ‘chile sauce’ and either ‘chili powder’ or ‘chile powder’.

    For Asian foods, according to them, you can use either but ‘chili paste’ and ‘chili sauce’ is preferred. So I used ‘chili’ except in that one case.

    To Everyone Else:

    Wow! Thanks for all your responses. I can’t wait to make some of those dishes. I need to find a good, basic Korean cookbook. Any recommendations appreciated!

    And to those of you who live in Paris, thanks for the addresses. Korean food doesn’t seem to be well-represented here so I’m going shopping this week. Must get some of that Korean chili powder.

    • jooree

    Hey David, I’ve been a lurker for a while and I was pleasantly surprised to see that you too have a fondness for kimchi! In marseille, where I am, it’s so hard to find korean products, but luckily the napa caabbage and daikon is available. I lugged a huge bag of korean chilli powder from home so that wasn’t a problem (trust me, it’s essential. A paprika/vietnamese chili sauce kimchi I tried turned out horribly wrong)
    I realized the only thing I missed was the fish sauce. I tried thai fish sauce, and it was too sweet so the next time I used a vietnamese salted fish sauce with chunks of fish in it. The resulting kimchi came out PERFECT.

    BTW, you don’t have to soak the cabbage for 12 hours. 4 hours is fine too. I used sel de mer.

    Cheers on making your own kimchi! Lots of koreans don’t even do it.

    Bonne chance a Paris! A plus.

    • Simon

    Something I have suggested to my wife is that we build a proper Korean BBQ table in our garden in France. I developed that taste when teaching in Korea.

    One thing that I have puzzled over, though – what are the slightly furry leaves that kind of look like nettle leaves that are used in conjunction with lettuce when wrapping bulgogi?

    Kimchi (and saurkraut) are likely to become a bit of a staple for us in France, what with cabbages being cheap…….

    • selena (a former Portland resident)

    To Juree, above: Head out to the Portland suburb of Beaverton for Korean food. Tons of Koreans there- Beaverton is the Asian ‘hood of greater PDX! Lots of bibimbap, and the big Uwajimaya has a large selection of Korean foods.

    • Aimee

    Not sure if someone already mentioned it to you, I only have a second to post and have to run after my son but I shop at the Ace Mart on the Rue St. Anne near the Opera. Metro Pyramides. And there is a great little Korean resto on the same street called Guibine.

    • Ellie

    Simon – those ‘furry’ leaves are green perilla leaves, which can be eaten fresh or in a marinated form.

    • R khooks

    I love Kimchi. I used to have a Korean flatmate who would make a massive batch every month. The only thing was that it made the fridge stink :-(

    • C(h)ristine

    Some of your readers have already named many ways to use excess kimchi–but I’ll name some more! Of course there’s “jjigae” (kimchi jjigae–which is a spicy tofu and kimchi stew), and fried rice, and bibimbap, and you can also make “pancakes” with flour and kimchi, too. A kazillion different ways!

    If you can get yourself to a Korean store and get the more authentic ingredients, more power to you–instead of fish sauce, for instance, get the “saewoo jut” (which is salted pickled baby shrimp) and use that.

    And the “furry” heart-shaped perilla leaves are also WONDERFUL when eaten as a tempura (as well as marinated or fresh)…Recently, I made a pesto with Korean perilla leaves and it was AWESOME.

    • David

    I am so going over to that Korean market on the rue St. Anne this week! (And yes, to that restaurant—Guibine, Aimee…)

    My apartment is smelling so much of fish sauce—and I love it! We’ll just see what my friends say who are coming for dinner when they walk in and get a whiff…

    • Jeff D

    When the kimchi gets too ripe, it’s time to make kimchi stew! Tastes great, but it can stink up the house a bit.

    • Abra

    Any chance you can share the rib recipe with us? The voices in my head often speak Asian too, and I don’t have the book over here.

    I think you need to make a kimchi sorbet!

    • noromdiam

    Thanks for the recipe. I’ve always been intimidated by making my own pickles, but the kimchi served at restaurants are always unsatisfying, and my friend’s mom’s kimchi is way too stinky for me.

    If you like complex flavors with a heavy dose of picante, you should try Mongolian hot pot. I’m completely addicted to it this winter.

    • Kharina

    My mother used to make loads of kimchi and made sure my brother and I had our jars when we left for uni. She also would make it with mooli, made it amazingly crunchy and delicious!

    And thanks for a healthier post by the way. Facebook and blog are tag teaming for an expansion of my waistline.

    • natalie

    So excited to find this blog. I will be in Paris from Feb18-22. I am spoiled with great food in Los Angeles and there is no food I don’t adore. So here is the challenge…where are the best Chinese restaurants? I want to eat any foods and try African while in Paris..I want to eat where the locals eat..I hope you have time to give me some suggestions. Best breads too. I love the open markets but not sure if my days fit those schedules. A walking food tour for a half day could be fun..thanks Natalie

    • David

    natatlie: I like Sinorama in the 13th for Chinese food, and there’s a few others in that quartier that are pretty good.

    For more recommendation on what to eat in Paris, check the ‘Categories’ in the left sidebar, and click on the items under ‘Paris’

    • Sharon C

    I still remember my dad digging huge holes into the soon-to-be frozen ground for the annual kimchi preparation season, otherwise known as “jang”. The village women would get together, make huge vats of kimchi in earthen jars that could easily fit a person, and bury them into the holes that men had dug for them. Then, all through winter, we’d eat our way through the jar. Each woman had her specialty–some with oysters, some with pears, but of course all with lots of chili and ginger and fish sauce goodness.

    Korea has changed a lot, though (in more ways than just in culinary culture)…there’s less and less stigma in buying jarred or bagged kimchi, and even my mom and aunts have started to a few years ago (!). BUT, the Korean love of consuming kimchi will probably never change. Thank you so much for those links at the end! I’ll certainly use them. A couple of recipes I like with old kimchi are stir frying some thinly sliced pork (or bacon, for that matter) with sliced onions and chopped kimchi, and serving with sliced firm tofu (plate tofu in center, put kimchi/pork mix around in a ring, serve with cold soju. Another one is the classic standby–kimchi bokeum bab (kimchi fried rice). If you’re brave, you’d use spam, old cooked white rice, and lots of sour kimchi. It’s so, so good. :)

    • Richard Cayia Rowe

    Chili powder for Kimchi: Gochutgaru

    I like Lee Kum Kee brand Chili Garlic Sauce as a general purpose spicy sauce.

    Next time I’m in an oriental market, I’ll look for this product: Sliced & Dried Red Pepper

    That would look beautiful in several dishes that come to mind.

    • Soo

    love your kimchi! Thank you for posting it. I am a Korean living in Zurich. I still haven’t dared to make Kimchi yet. Whenever I go to Korea, I bring jars of homemade kimchi…. My mom makes the best kimchi, wish you could taste it!

    Here is two online Korean food shopping mall. It’s based in germany but delievers within all EU(not Switzerland sadly…)contries. Sorry… it’s in korean but it still has pictures(when in doubt, ask me!)The price is great,good delivery service and they have everything.
    here it is,

    • mycookinghut

    I love Kimchi. I remember when I was in Korea, I had loads of these. I’d love to try out this recipe!

    • Carol

    Hi David,

    One of my favorite “fast kimchee” recipes is a fresh cuke kimchee. You use an English cuke and cut smallish/medium pieces, half-moon slices or fat matchsticks, salt them 1/2 hour, then rinse. Then add soy sauce, dark sesame oil and cayenne. For one cuke, you would start with maybe 2/3 TB of soy, add more if you like soy, at least 1 TB of sesame oil, and cayenne to taste (start with 1/4 tsp). Should marinate about 2 hours and will be okay in the fridge for a day or 2 (can be made in advance). It’s addictive.

    • Misook

    Hi David,

    I have been enjoying your blog since 2005. It has been a rewarding experience reading your posts.

    I am a Korean American living in New York and spends at least a month in Paris annually since I fell in love with Paris back in 1985. I have also enjoyed your wonderful desserts at Chez Panisse when I visited my aunt in San Francisco.

    Too bad I was in the wrong side of the Atlantic over the weekend. I got back from Paris a couple of weeks ago.

    My mom have been making various types of Kimchi all her life but for the past 15+ years as many Korean do, she buys it at a local Korean market where is it store made.

    I can also remember Kimchi season in Seoul back in the 60’s when I was a child as Sharon stated. Family members show up to prepare the kimchi which is made before the ground freezes over (pre-refrigerator days). It is made in a huge quantity to last you through the entire winter until the sign of the 1st of spring.

    In summer, try o-yee kimchi(kirby), cabbage kimchi(regular cabbage not napa), baby radish kimchi, mool kimchi(water kimchi made of cut Korean daikon and napa kimchi) and other light refreshing kimchis.

    Too bad, I have a large bag of gokchu garu (Korean red pepper powder) at my friend’s freezer in Paris going unused. By the way, you can buy gokchu garu at Tang Frere.

    Enjoy your kimchi!

    • David

    I’m heading to the Korean store on Friday to stock up. I think I’m turning this site into a Korean food blog!

    Actually, I’m trying to make those round Korean pickles (banchan or panchan). I tried some and they were soggy. How do they make them super-crispy??

    If anyone has a recipe or advice, I’d be indebted!

    • matthew k.

    great post on kimchi! korean food IS the best in the world (in opinion…) Also, as a Korean living in LA (where markets are abundant), I have no problem buying kimchi at the market. While it’s mainly because of convenience, the quality of kimchi you can buy at the market is very high. A lot of the kimchi purchased at the market is made traditionally in large clay vats in the motherland and shipped in vacuum sealed packages, pre-fermented and ready to go. Of course, there is more satisfaction in making your own (and much more affordable).

    As for an easy Korean cookbook, I personally like a book called, “Discovering Korean Cuisine: Recipes from the best Korean Restaurants in Los Angeles.” The photos are great and the recipes are straight forward. There are other, more detailed books made by Korean grandmothers, but I think this book is a good start. You can find it on Amazon.

    I LOVE your website, keep it up!

    • David

    Hi Matthew: Thanks! I just put that book in my Amazon basket, with another book on Korean cooking. You’re so lucky to live in LA; they have great Korean supermarkets and bbq’s there. And you’re right about the store-bought kimchi: it’s dynamite-good.

    Saveur did a good write-up a few years back about the Korean bbq’s of LA that was good, but doesn’t appear to be on their site. Glad you’re enjoying the site~~

    • matthew k.

    no problem David. Yes, I am lucky to live in what might be the best Korean bbq city in the world. Btw, how did you get turned on to Korean food? I’m reading briefly that there are small Korean communities (if you could call it that) in Paris? Lastly, I’m obsessed with ice cream and saw your book featured at Ici in Berkeley. I’ll pick it up the next time I’m at Barnes and Noble.

    • Joanne

    I’m so glad you’ve written about your love for Korean food. I so love reading your blog and finally I can give something back to you as a “thank you” for all the joy I’ve experienced from your writings. Here are some, dare I say, recipes from my childhood (and adulthood). I hope my directions make sense. Enjoy!

    Kimchee Jigae (Kimchee Stew): Lightly rinse kimchee. Sauté in approximately 1 Tbsp sesame oil (I like to sauté with some pancetta or regular thickly sliced bacon). Add water (about 1 part water to 1 kimchee–add more water to taste). Bring to boil and let boil (covered) for approximately 10 minutes (never actually timed it so you may need to monitor it the first time you make so it’s done to your preference). This stew is best when made with over ripe kimchee. It’s like tomato sauce, it gets better each time you heat it.

    There are many variations of this stew. I’ve been known to add Korean ribs (California style) and also to top with stew with cheese (Raclette) – I know it sounds really weird but IMO kimchee goes with almost anything and this is a good combination. I also have kimchee as a condiment when serving steak. A favorite snack of mine is kimchee sandwich: bread (I like baguette best, doesn’t taste as good with wheat bread though), butter and ripe kimchee).

    Sautéed Kimchee: Dice kimchee. Sauté in sesame oil. Add sesame seeds if desired. I make a batch and keep it in my fridge. There are many quick dishes you can make with this.

    – Bin Dae Dduk (see below)

    – Noodle soup. This version is one of my childhood comfort foods. This is buckwheat noodles in stock made with dashi (Japanese soup stock), topped with sauteed kimchee, sometimes I add ground beef sauteed with black pepper and finely minced garlic–which is how my mom makes the soup.

    – Noodles with sesame oil and kimchee: I prefer using buckwheat noodles but somen noodles work just as well (or any thin noodles like angel hair). Boil noodles, drain. Mix in sesame oil (to taste), sauteed kimchee, and sesame seeds (optional but highly recommended).

    Bin Dae Dduk (Bean Pancake): Soak dried mung beans until soft (2-3 hours). Using your blender grind the beans with some water (approximately 2 parts bean to one third part water). The batter should not be runny (should look like oatmeal that’s been sitting out a bit). You can always thin it out with water if batter is too thick. Oil pan (be generous with the oil–you want the outer layer to be as golden and crisp as possible) and cook it the way you would a pancake (but on medium high heat) and add the sautéed kimchee as you would add fruit to the pancake (or you can just mix it all in, which is what I usually do). When done, you can eat it as is or dip it in a dipping sauce of soy sauce and vinegar (yuzu vinegar is best if it’s available).

    You mentioned banchan which is the general word for little side dishes that are served along side 1 to 3 main dishes, which in my house was typically stew, meat dish and or broiled or grilled fish). Anyway, from your description, the banchan you are referring to sounds like it’s Moo Chae which is julienned daikon seasoned with chili pepper and vinegar.

    Moo Chae: Julienne daikon. Sprinkle it with chili pepper (add the chili pepper first otherwise you won’t get the pinkish tinge). Then add a little sugar, vinegar, finely minced garlic (optional), pinch salt. The amount of the spices is all to taste (I couldn’t get specific measurements from my mom–she kept saying “Taste it.” This should be freshly made each time but it will keep few days. I also like to grill it along side Korean BBQ ribs or beef (I do the same with kimchee).

    Bon Appetit!

    • N

    You can also put canned tuna (chamchi) in kimchi fried rice: It’s called chamchi kimchi bokkeum bap, and it’s as delicious as it is fun to say.

    • Jane


    We do have a typical Korean restaurant and a little further far a Korean store.
    Only korean people eat in this restaurant, a tourist bus dropp them !
    rue des moines 75017 near the square des batignolles.

    But you are right, nothing pour fouetter un chat, Vietnameese, Chineese, are much more better.

    • jh

    The two most important factors in kimchi-making are the cabbage and the chili powder/flakes. Make sure you pick out a firm heavy head of cabbage…the best chili mixture will not save a bad/bitter cabbage. Maybe even taste it while you’re buying it; it should have a certain sweetness. This rule is also crucial when picking out radishes for radish kimchi (I still have a hard time picking “good” ones).

    You have the get the right chili powder/flakes. Firstly, it must be a Korean brand. Secondly, it should not be too flaky nor too finely ground. Thirdly, it should be a really bright, vibrant red (avoid the darker variety). The best chili powder comes directly from Korea, my mom keeps hers in the freezer.

    Now, onto easy and delicious recipes that kimchi lovers must try:

    The best kimchi jjigae is made with pork ribs. period. Just throw the ribs, kimchi, and kimchi juice (the more the better) into the pot, cover with water, and just let it simmer and simmer and simmer until the ribs are meltingly cooked through (maybe the fermented kimchi helps tenderize the meat?) and the kimchi is soft but still has some bite to it.

    Adding sliced tofu is also a must, but you want to add it about 10 min before you’re done cooking the jjigae, otherwise the tofu will break apart and make the jjigae too messy.
    Of course, for a faster, lighter version, you can omit the pork. But the ribs bring an amazing richness and depth of flavor to the jjigae. Plus, that lip-smacking oily goodness.

    If you have an ample amount of liquid / if you make the jjigae without the pork (=less thick soup), you can also add dried udon noodles directly into the jjigae, or almost fully-cooked glass noodles (potato starch noodles, I think). But make sure you have a lot of soup to spare. The noodles help thicken runny soup, plus, who doesn’t love noodles? My aunt also adds spam to her jjigae, which is actually pretty good too once the spam chunks have soaked up the kimchi goodness.

    I love to have my jjigae and rice with gim (salted/roasted nori). I don’t know why, but the addition of the gim just makes it so…oh my. I am salivating.

    Another fast and light recipe to try (especially during the warmer months) is kimchi bibim gooksu (noodles). Chop the kimchi (older and stinkier is better) and toss with a little sugar, a few drops of sesame oil, a couple sprinkles of vinegar, a smattering of sesame seeds. Add some kimchi juice if the mix is too dry. T

    he concoction should be sweet and somewhat tangy, definitely pungent, with a slight toastiness. Now toss this with some rice noodles or buckwheat noodles and top with sesame seeds and some sliced scallions. It’s refreshingly delicious and I’m sure you’d love it.

    Or, pair the kimchi mixture with sliced mook (it’s like a savory jelly made from starch…I think?). The white kind is the plain version that has no taste and is slightly softer, and goes better with a soy sauce mixture (you might’ve had this as a banchan at Korean restaurants). If you can find it, try getting the brown (acorn) mook, which is slightly firmer and has a richer, earthier taste, which better compliments the kimchi mixture. (with the mook, you might have to cut around the edges because sometimes a rubbery skin forms…edible and tolerable, but not too pleasant.)

    You can probably also find packaged powder to make the mook at home, but just be prepared to do a lot of stirring.

    If you are familiar with and like fermented soybean paste, try sauteing old kimchi with a little sesame oil and said soybean paste. It’s rich and almost meaty…kind of like super-reduced kimchi jjigae. Mound onto hot rice, thick juices and all, stir, and proceed to shovel into mouth with the largest spoon you can find. Also great with thick, cold slabs of firm tofu.

    Or, instead of the soybean paste, saute the kimchi and sesame oil with marinated bbq pork (the spicy, red kind). And perhaps throw in some sliced rice cakes (those soft, long, white logs that usually come in a mound on a styrofoam plate covered in plastic wrap. They also come pre-sliced and frozen, but you need to soak those first). Anyway, serve this with those thick, cold slabs of firm tofu, and you’ve got kimchi jeyook bokkeum.

    As others have said, there are so many possibilities when it comes to kimchi, and so many delicious varieties of kimchi as well. I love kimchi lots and love to hear when non-Koreans love kimchi too, and I must commend you for making it yourself (hooray!). Enjoy your kimchi escapades…and make sure you’ve got plenty of toothpicks, floss, and gum on hand…

    • Cathy Lee

    Dear Dave,
    First of all, kudos for making attempting to make kimchi in France! One thing you can do with the leftover, over-fermented kimchi is make kimchi jiggae or kimchi pancakes. And you can even throw some of your pork ribs in with the jiggae. It stinks to high heaven and is absolutely delicious. I plan to jot down the exact measurements next time I make it and will post it on BTW- you can purchase hot pepper flakes online: here


    • Zlamushka

    Hey David,
    I am soooo happy there are kimchi freaks out there who make this sh** from scratch. I ve been very unsuccessful myself when making a batch at home. I would always end up with bubbly rotten cabbage :-( bleh… But! amazingly enough i followed this super old-butt recipe from grandma’s grandma and man was that delish. Spicy as hell and red as baboon’s ass. I’ve finished it just by nibblng on it with every meal (consisting pretty much of kimchi and kimchi), so didn’t have much time to experiment, but my absolute favorite is kimchi fried rice.
    I just posted my ultimate kimchi recipe and cannot wait to try it again. What else should work apart from cabbage and radishes? spinach leaves? kohlrabi bulb? hm….

    • Gay

    Hey David, I’m making kimchi right not, following your instructions. I got some crushed chili to use as I couldn’t get hold of the Korean chili powder. Hope it works well. I am waiting… waiting…. it’s only 12 hours!

    • David

    The Korean chili powder makes the kimchi that bright red color. Someone listed a mail order source for it, in a previous comment, and it’s worth searching out.

    And it’s cheap-I paid 6€ for a 500g (1/2#) bag, which I suspect will last me a long, long time.

    • Tim

    This recipe came out great! It was my first attempt at making kimchi at home and I am very pleased. I used thai fish sauce since I had it in my fridge, as well as thai red curry paste, and although other recipes I found warned that thai fish sauce would make the kimchi taste bad, I think its great and it doesn’t taste particularly different from any other kimchi I’ve ever tried. The curry paste was in fact a bit too spicy, so I will use less next time or make my own, the kimchi makes me sweat which is not a bad thing I suppose. Finally I added a shredded carrot, as my daikon was not that big, and I squeezed a lime over everything when I mixed it all up.

    I put it all in an airtight plastic container and put it in my cupboard for a little less than three days total. Checked it once after 24 hours to mix it up. When I opened it this afternoon it looked and smelled great, no rancid rotten odors or anything. So now its in my fridge but I’ve already eaten a bunch of it at room temperature and its excellent. I have a ton of it now, too.

    Thanks again!


    Bravo, I am so impressed with your kimchi-making! After a lifetime of eating my mother’s kimchi, I have recently started making my own and it’s really not that difficult – as with most pickling, it’s getting the salt/brining just right. I don’t know if you managed to find a Korean cookbook (think you mentioned it somewhere here) but I find a very accessible site for korean cooking. Of course, as with most other cuisines, korean cooking differs from household to household, and from region to region and you’d be surprised how different kimchi can be from place to place. As for your pajeon recipe, have you tried it without the egg? I am from the south (daegu) and we never put egg in any of our jeons be it pajeon, kimchi-jeon, etc, because it’s important for the flavours of the vegetable/main ingredient to come through. We also put very little flour, just enough to dust and hold the veggies together. There are two vegetables that i consider to be indigenous to Korean cuisine and they are: baby leek (sometimes called chinese leek, very fine and grassy looking but quite pungent in smell), and wild sesame leaves (similar in shape to shiso but more spicy in flavour). if you have not tried these, by all means do, their flavours are unique. I make kimchi out of both and also jeons using these ingredients only.

    • David

    155dalhousie: I love making kimchi, and just made another batch, which is sitting on my roof, fermenting away… (And yes, Maangchi is great. I love her videos, too.)

    I like the egg on my pajeon, especially the way I do it, which is really more vegetable-based than some of the very thick, floury ones I’ve had in Korean restaurants. I had a friend who grew those sesame leaves in California, but it can be challenging to find some of those things in Paris.

    • 155dalhousie

    I took a closer look at your pajeon, and indeed, they are the ideal jeon: thin, not thick and floury, crispy edges, that is the ideal vegetable jeon, imho! and i agree, sil-gochu (chili threads) are underrated, they make your jeons extra special. one thing we do in our household is always add a dash of dashi powder/stock to any jeon batter to rid it of any raw flour taste.

    and kketnip, glorious sesame leaves! are very easy to grow if you manage to get some seeds from somewhere/someone…;-)

    you know, i actually stumbled onto your website while doing research on macarons…(your pics are gorgeous btw) ….i’ve decided to put away the silpat and egg whites for now to make white kimchi (baek mu kimchi) instead – basically white kkakdugi with salt, ginger and sil-gochu! yum yum…

    • 155dalhousie

    oh! and I forgot to add that the reason why i was so impressed with your kimchi recipe was that unlike soooooo many other recipes, you did not add vinegar!!! it is sacrilege to add vinegar! you must let the natural fermentation sour the cabbage and never vinegar, never! so, well done!

    • Matt

    I lived for 33 years in SF. The great food makes that city far better than New York and I remember a terrific dish I made for friends using Kimchi. It is based on a dish served at Korean BBQ on Geary out near The Avenues. Theirs was called Crab Stew. It was a stew consisting of Dungeness Crab, Kimchi and sauce. It was great(I, like nearly any other fisherman, prefer Rock Crabs 99-1) but I wanted to make something for a friend that was allergis to shellfish. I used their dish as inspiration for Kimchi Stew. Kimchi, vegetable stock, soy, dried anchovies, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper, rice vinegar. Very simple and very enjoyable. That is the basis so please feel free to elaborate to your desire. BTW, I make my own kimchi very hot and very spicy. Enjoy!

    • Maya

    Hi David,

    Even though I read your blog often, I didn’t realize you had so many savoury recipes on it till my Google search for Kimchi brought me here! I have never made it before, so I have a few questions:
    1. I am vegetarian – would it be possible to substitute the fish sauce with, say, soy sauce or some other veggie equivalent? What would you recommend?
    2. Do you think Indian chilli powder would work in place of Korean? The kind I have is hot, bright red, and quite finely ground.

    Thank you!

    • Kate

    I lived with a Korean girl and our kitchen smelt like fermenting kimchi for months…this stuff could have killed a horse, it had been fermenting for an age. However it really does make your immune system strong and healthy. I can’t lie, I’m partial to some pickles – yummo.

    • SpecialFXLady

    So I made this about 4 days ago and left it sitting in my kitchen. My kitchen is a bit chilly and I think that the kimchi thinks that it is in the refrigerator…

    I moved it into the (warmer) bathroom today. Should I leave it out until it bubbles or go ahead and put it in the actual refrigerator?


      • David
      David Lebovitz

      I would taste it and see; it doesn’t necessary bubble. So you if you sample it and it has a bit of a bite, it’s likely done and can be refrigerated and served.


Get David's newsletter sent right to your Inbox!


Sign up for my newsletter and get my FREE guidebook to the best bakeries and pastry shops in Paris...