Korean Kimchee

For some time now I have been fermenting vegetables for at least three reasons.
First I don’t like the flavour of vegetables at all, but Fermented Vegetables are in a different category
altogether …. slotting in somewhere either side of curries and tasty, spicy foods.  They retain the ‘crunch’ of fresh
veggies with a uniquely spicy flavour of their own, separate from cooked or raw vegetables.  Delicious!!
Second, they do amazingly good things to your gut.  I have always had a ‘pernickety’ gut.  I have
been variously diagnosed as ‘IBS’, ‘Coeliac, ‘Fussy Eater’, etc, etc, but a few spoonfulls of fermented veggies kicks
everything back into line and I’m okay.  The cramps, gas and eructations all disappear, along with the need to be within twenty paces of a toilet at all times.
Third, the brew does not EVER need refrigeration if the veggies are kept under the liquid.  I normally make two 600cc jars in a batch and that lasts me up to six weeks, or so, never seeing the inside of the fridge, even in Summer, although refrigeration will slow down the process somewhat..  It is the same process as sauerkraut, and, in fact, if you delete all other ingredients and  just use cabbage, that’s exactly what you’ll get….Sauerkraut.  But, hey!  Why stop at sauerkraut when you can make Korean Kimchee.
Here is one of my tried and tested recipes.

Korean Kimchee Recipe



· 1 cup (250 ml) sea salt flakes

· 1 head Chinese cabbage, roughly chopped up. Keep two or three leaves for packing.

· 1½ tbsp salt for sweating the Daikon Radish, if you bother… I don’t!

· ½ Daikon radish (moo), sliced into 1/4 cm slices (about 2 cups)

· 2 tbsp rice flour

· ½ cup chilli powder/Paprika, or to taste (I use about half this.)

· 5–6 garlic cloves

· 2 cm piece ginger, finely grated.

· Smallish Brown Onion, diced

· Some julienned carrot, some chopped chillis, some sliced capsicum, turnip or whatever.

· 2 – 4 Anchovies (or skip the chilli and Anchovies & use 50 – 100 ml of Hogan’s Chilli Blachan mixed into the rice flour paste.)

· 2–3 tbsp fish sauce (Often forget to put this in. Still tastes great, though!)

· 2 tbsp sugar (I never use this.)

· 3–4 spring onions, sliced diagonally.



Standing time 3 days +. Makes about 1 ½ to 2 litres volume.

You will need to start this at least three days ahead.  You can put whatever you like into this. The ONLY constants are the cabbage and the three days or more. It will still work well with nothing more than the cabbage. Go the whole hog, though, and it’s REALLY crunchy and yummy.

Combine the salt with 3 cups of water and stir until the salt dissolves. Pour the salt water over the chopped cabbage in a large bowl and let it stand for at least 3 hours, or until the cabbage wilts. Wash the cabbage in three changes of water and drain well. Set aside.

Mix the 1½ tbsp salt with the radish in a bowl, leave for 15 minutes, then drain and set aside. (I never bother with this step. Just chuck it all in together.)

Place 1 cup water and 2 tbsp rice flour in a small pot and bring the paste to a boil, stirring continuously. This should take about a minute or so. Turn off the heat, place the rice paste into a bowl, mix in the chilli/paparika (or Chilli Blachan, if used.) and let cool.

Blend the garlic, ginger and onion (& Anchovies, if used) in a blender.

Mix all the ingredients with the cabbage in a large bowl, adding the spring onions towards the end. I usually toss in chopped chillis, sliced capsicum, finely julienned carrot, thin slices of turnip, green beans and whatever else is to hand until it looks pretty!

Kimchee Jar
Image by Amanda flickr under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pack into a clean, glass jars with a sealable lid and crush the kimchi with a narrow bottle used as a ‘rammer’ to let out the vegetable juices, then put a folded up, saved cabbage leaf and a weight of some sort (clean rock? Clean paper weight?) on top and let it ferment for 2–3 days at room temperature. Don’t overfill! Each day, loosen the lid to let out excess gases. I leave it for two weeks. It doesn’t ‘go off’ if you keep the kimchee under the acidic liquid from the squashed up veggies. It doesn’t need refrigeration, but you can slow the process down by putting the jars in the fridge. This is a lactic acid ferment, just like German sauerkraut. Taste it each day until it tastes right to you.

Ron Shannon

I was raised on a wheat and sheep farm in the WA wheatbelt and watched my father, an excellent motor mechanic, utterly destroy some of the most fertile soil in the district over the course of thirty years by not understanding that you cannot continue to take, take, take without putting something back. He couldn’t see it. He’d just slather on more superphosphate. He didn’t notice the four lovely, freshwater lakes on our property, which contained four types of edible fish, coonacs, gilgies and giant freshwater clams, each clam a feed for a grown man, rapidly turning into salt marsh because of fertiliser run off. He destroyed them in three years. We also had an engine driven electricity supply whose noise drove me nuts at night when trying to sleep. I resolved to have a silent one when I grew up. And I did, twice! I enjoyed gardening, even as a little kid, growing lettuce, radishes and tomatoes. These were rare treats, as decent fresh produce was just not available locally. You HAD to grow your own, raise chooks for the eggs, slaughter sheep, pigs and cattle for your meat. On special occasions, we had roasted chook! I learned early that everything had to be sustainable and locally available. In the mid eighties, I attended, with my wife, a Bill Mollison public lecture about Permaculture. We were not too impressed by the man, but his message resonated with us. We had just had built a lovely modern home in one of the better riverside suburbs in Perth, but we were not happy there. Having both been raised as ‘country kids’, we decided to sell up and move to the Perth Hills, a place filled with ‘small-holdings’, and bought a five acre property on which we grew sandalwood trees and practised Permaculture principles in setting up to be ‘sustainable’. I put in lots of water tanks, even though we had available dangerously, ‘chemicalised’, mains water on site, and ended up with 88,000 litres worth of rainwater storage so that I could set up a small, professional-level, aquaculture system and have decent drinking water. We also had one of the first solar power systems, with battery. Ross Mars was doing a lot of Permaculture courses and we became his representative permaculture property with our swales, sustainable aquaculture and permaculture gardens, not to mention our myriad wild life, especially birds. We had fourteen species of honey eaters on our place, along with blue wrens, two types of ‘robin redbreast’ and all the usual cast of corvids, cockatoos, parrots, etc. We were also Ross’s source of sandalwood and quandong seedlings. We had our chooks in three separate yards that we could close off to them so as to provide an annual rotation of garden crops through each yard, then let the chooks clean up, fertilise and till next year’s garden plot. Those chooks were actually horrid little dinosaurs. They would catch and fight over mice, and they would corner any goannas that were foolish enough to enter their domain and attack them until they either were killed (and eaten!) or managed to get away. Yes, we did feed them properly!! Our cattle dog was afraid of them. He’d seen what happened to a few goannas. At age seventy five, the five acres had become just too much work for us, so we sold it and moved to our self-built new home in Northam in 2020. Still have our own rainwater and power supplies, though!


  1. It is very easy to make a version of this that doesn’t use fish products if you choose to avoid them. You can add some seaweed to the mix and they make very good vegan fish sauce alternatives so if anyone is looking for a way to make this delicious healthy condiment without the fish, it isn’t hard to do. I have successfully made it many times. It tastes especially good with the seaweed added.

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