Baek Kimchi, White Kimchi (non-spicy)
Baek Kimchi is a delicious non-spicy pickled napa cabbage stuffed with a variety of colorful vegetables. (Baek means “white.” Kimchi means “fermented vegetable.”) You can say Baek kimchi in a sense is more traditional than the most common kimchi you see today because Koreans started eating spicy kimchi only in the late 16th century when red chili peppers were first adopted.
Baek Kimchi is full of wonderful flavors and healthy ingredients without the strong and spicy taste of regular (spicy) kimchi. It can be served for any meals. It pairs especially well with grilled meat or spicy dishes. It is usually cut into bite sized pieces before serving but whole leaves can be served to wrap grilled meat, rice and condiments. Because of the lower content of salt and the lack of spiciness, it’s great for kids and patients who are restricted to non-stimulating food as well.
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|3 lb 5 oz||Napa Cabbage 배추 (1 whole napa cabbage)|
|2 oz||Dropworts 미나리 (optional)|
|4 oz||Korean Radish 무|
|3||Green Onion 파|
|½||Korean Pear 배|
|6||Peeled Chestnut 깐밤|
|3 clove(s)||Garlic Clove (whole) 통마늘|
|½ oz||Ginger Root 생강|
|½ oz||Silgochu, Chili Pepper Thread 실고추 (optional, or use red chili pepper)|
|1 oz||Shiitake mushroom (dried) 표고버섯 (optional)|
|1 tbs||Shrimp Fish Sauce (Sae Woo Jeot) 새우젓 (or anchovy fish sauce)|
|10 cups||Water 물|
|2 cups||Coarse Sea Salt 굵은 소금|
for finishing broth
|7 cups||Water 물 (filtered, to yield 6 cups of kelp broth)|
|3 piece(s)||Kelp (dried, 2" X 2" or 5 cm x 5 cm) 다시마 (optional)|
|2 tbs||Coarse Sea Salt 굵은 소금|
|2 tbs||Sugar 설탕 (optional)|
|2 tsp||Shrimp Fish Sauce (Sae Woo Jeot) 새우젓 (optional, add more salt instead)|
Optional Ingredients and Substitution
-Miniari (water dropwort) adds a very nice aroma and flavor but it can be omitted.
-For finishing broth, you can use plain filtered water instead of kelp broth. However, using kelp broth, fish broth or beef broth creates more depth in flavor.
-When choosing ingredients, consider color contrast. For example, if you don’t want to use chili thread, consider using other red vegetables like regular red chili pepper, dried dates or carrots. It is nice to have a mix of red, green, white and brown colors in the seasoning.
Good to Know
There are three ways of brining napa cabbages:
1. Dry method: Sprinkle coarse sea salt between the leaves of cabbages, leave them for 4 hours. Flip the cabbages and leave for another 4 hours (total 8 hours). Usually 1 cup of salt is used for one whole cabbage. Wash and drain.
(pros: shorter brining time, less salt is needed, cons: can be uneven)
2. Wet method: Make salt solution and FULLY immerse napa cabbages in the solution for a total of 12-16 hours (flip the cabbages after 6-8 hours). Put something heavy on top so the cabbages stay under the salt water. The optimal concentration of salt solution is 15-20%. The Ratio is water:coarse salt=5:1.
(pros: evenly brined, cons: longer brining time, a large amount of salt needed)
3. Combination of dry and wet methods: Make salt solution (water: coarse salt=5:1) in a large enough bowl to fit a half napa cabbage. Dip each half in the solution, take it out and place it in a large empty bowl. Then, sprinkle about ¼ cup of coarse salt (for each half) between the layers only on the white stem part. Repeat for each half. Then, pour the salt solution in the large bowl with all the napa cabbage halves. Leave them for about 3-4 hours. Flip the cabbages and leave it for another 3-4 hours (total 6-8 hours).
(pros: optimal brining time and amount of salt, cons: more effort required)
Brining time may vary depending on the temperature, the amount of salt and the type of napa cabbage used. In summer, brining time is shorter, In winter, it gets much longer. How do you know if the brining process is done? When you bend a leaf of the napa cabbage backwards, it should be bent all the way without breaking or resistance. After rinsing 2-3 times, it should saltier than the desired saltiness. The saltiness decreases during the fermentation process.
If there is too much salt, the napa cabbage will lose the sweet taste. If there is too little, your kimchi will taste really bland. Also, if it’s not brined long enough, it can taste bitter or rot instead of being properly fermented. Don't fret! After a few trials, you will get it!
Coarse sea salt is key to good kimchi. Table salt would not give you the same flavor and texture.
You can use anchovy fish sauce or kanari fish sauce instead of shrimp fish sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to use coarse sea salt?
You can use kosher salt. But, coarse ones are better than fine ones. If the particles are too small, it may speed up the brining process too much that the texture of kimchi may not be as crispy.
We don’t recommend using table salt (iodized salt) because iodine prevents fermentation and the texture and the color of kimchi may not turn out right.
How long should I ferment kimchi for?
Fermentation time depends on temperature and the amount of salt in the kimchi. A lower temperature and smaller amount of salt will make the fermentation process slower. They say slowly fermenting kimchi at 4-5℃ results in the most tasty kimchi.
The duration of fermentation also depends on your personal preference. Some people like fresh (almost unfermented) kimchi. Some like it very fermented and sour.
I personally like my kimchi fermented to medium sourness. I leave it out in room temperature for about 2 days for bark kimchi. The best way is to leave it out and taste it every day. When it reaches your preference, put it in the refrigerator. If you made a large amount, you can leave some out and store the rest in the fridge right away. Then, take some out later for more fermentation as needed.
Remember that kimchi will produce gas and liquid as it is fermented. Leave some room in the container, or it will overflow.
How should I store my kimchi and how long does it last?
Traditionally, kimchi was stored in earthenware called "Ong-gi." Ong-gi (Onggi) is breathable pottery that keeps kimchi and other fermented foods in an optimal condition. In the old days, Koreans used to make kimchi in the fall, then place it in an ong-gi and bury the ong-gi underground to keep the kimchi throughout the winter.
Today, most Koreans use plastic or stainless containers to store Kimchi, and keep the containers in a specialized Kimchi fridge. Kimchi fridges keep kimchi at an optimal temperature, and keeps your regular fridge free of the potent kimchi smell.
If you don't have any of the above, place the kimchi in a tightly sealed container and keep in the fridge.
Why go through the hassle of making kimchi with a whole napa cabbage instead of pre-cutting it?
There are at least 3 benefits of making kimchi with an uncut cabbage:
1. Making kimchi with whole (uncut) napa cabbages minimizes direct exposure to air which helps kimchi stay tasty for a longer period of time.
2. When the cabbages are pre-cut, the seasoning is absorbed into the cross section immediately and decreases the delicious and unique fermented taste.
3. When the kimchi is cut afterward, it allows a better presentation. It also shows that Kimchi is freshly taken out and has not been served to anyone else (i.e., it’s not a leftover that was served in previous meals).
Do you have to cut kimchi when serving?
In general, kimchi is cut when it is served as a regular side dish. However, sometimes the leaves are left long when kimchi is served to wrap rice and meat. When you cut kimchi for serving, cut once down the middle the long way. Then, cut across both halves multiple times to create bite size pieces. Carefully move the sliced kimchi onto the serving plate so that the layers are beautifully presented.
More questions? Please leave your questions below in the comment section. We will do our best to answer as soon as we can.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe instructions are for the default serving size.
Click to enlarge photos.
Ingredient amounts in the recipe summary are for the default serving size.
1. Cut napa cabbages
Cut a napa cabbage in half and put an 3 inch incision at the end.
Cut in half
3 inch incision
Mix 10 cups of water and 2 cup of coarse salt in a large enough bowl to fit all the cabbage halves. Fully immerse the halves in the salt water and leave them for at least 6 hours. Place something heavy on top so all part sod cabbages are under the solution. You can also use dry method instead of salt water. See tips above for details.
Soak cabbage halves in salt water
Leave 360 min
3. Make kelp broth (optional)
Bring 7 cups of water with 3-4 pieces of (2”X2”) kelp to boil on high heat. Once it starts to boil, keep boiling on medium heat for 10 min. Let it cool down on the side.
Bring to boil
Boil Med Heat 10 min
Let it cool
4. Wash & drain
Tear them in quarters and wash them thoroughly 3-4 times. Drain all the water out by placing them over a strainer upside down. Leaving them for an hour. If there are any very outer leaves that are damaged, you can tear them off but save them for later.
Wash 3-4 times
Drain water 60 min
5. Soak shiitake mushrooms
Mix 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar (Sugar is optional. It just helps speed up the soaking process. Soak 1 oz (4 to 5) of dried shiitake mushrooms in the mix for about 30 min or until soft. Shiitake mushrooms are optional.
Soak in the mix
6. Julienne shiitake mushrooms
Wash the mushrooms thoroughly under running water. Squeeze water out by hand. Remove the stalk and julienne the cap.
Squeeze water out
Julienne mushroom cap
7. Julienne radish
Peel, wash and finely julienne 100g of Korean radish (about ⅕ - ¼ of Korean radish depending on the size).
Peel, wash & julienne
8. Julienne garlic & ginger
Peel, wash and julienne 3 cloves of garlic and ½ oz of ginger.
Peel, wash & julienne
9. Cut green onion and minari
Wash and cut 3 green onions and 2 oz of minari into 1” (3 cm) length.
Wash & cut
10. Peel chestnut
Peel 2 oz (about 6) of chestnuts. You can buy pre-peeled chestnuts but they should be uncooked for an authentic Korean style baek kimchi.
Peel 60g chestnuts
11. Julienne chestnut
Julienne chestnuts. You can also add dried dates and pine nuts.
12. Mince shrimp fish sauce
Unless you are using liquid fish sauce, mince 1 tablespoon of shrimp bits in the shrimp fish sauce.
shrimp fish sauce
13. Mix seasoning
In a large bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of minced shrimp fish sauce with all vegetables (except the cabbages) gently by hand.
14. Applying seasoning
Apply the seasoning mix in between the leaves of napa cabbages. Make sure there is enough vegetable bits in each layer.
Wrap around the cabbage quarter with the outer leaves you have saved from previous steps so that the fillings don’t fall out. Place the cabbage quarters into a container.
Wrap the cabbage quarter with outer leaves
16. Wrap option 2
Skip this step If you have already wrapped the cabbages with outer leaves. If you don’t have any outer leaves to wrap, you can use cling wrap. But, ensure you are only wrapping the upper middle part not the whole cabbage. Place the cabbage quarters into a container.
Wrap the cabbage quarter with cling wrap
17. Make finishing broth
Mix 6 cups of cooled kelp broth and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 teaspoon of minced shrimp fish sauce. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved.
18. Pour broth
Pour the finishing broth over the cabbages in the container.
Pour finishing broth
19. Let it ferment
Close the container with a good seal. Leave it out in room temperature for a day or two for proper fermentation and refrigerate.
Seal & Ferment
When you cut kimchi for serving, cut once down the middle the long way. Then, cut across both halves multiple times to create bite size pieces. Carefully move the sliced kimchi onto the serving bowl so that the layers are beautifully presented. Pour some broth over it. Enjoy!
Place in a bowl