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Nabak Kimchi (Mul Kimchi), Pink Water Kimchi
나박김치 (물김치)

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nut free
gluten free
prep time: 
30 min
inactive time: 
30 min
cooking time: 
30 min
total time: 
60 min

Nabak Kimchi is a type of traditional Korean Mul Kimchi (water kimchi: kimchi in drinkable broth). The name “nabak” originates from a word describing the thin square-shaped cut of radish used in the dish. Nabak Kimchi can be enjoyed with any meals at any time of the year. But, it is more often enjoyed during spring and summer in Korea. It pairs well with greasy food, grilled meat and grilled fish because of the refreshing broth and the crispy texture of radish and cabbage.

Another common Mul Kimchi (water kimchi) is Dong-chi-mi. Dong-chi-mi is a simpler Mul Kimchi with clear broth and only radish as a main ingredient. Nabak Kimchi is a little more elaborate. It usually includes radish and napa cabbages along with other secondary ingredients like minari (water dropworts), chili peppers, cucumbers and carrots. The broth is pinkish from red chili flakes.

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main ingredients

14 ozNapa Cabbage 배추 (about 300 - 400g)
11 ozKorean Radish 무
2 tbsCoarse Sea Salt 굵은 소금
2 ozDropworts 미나리 (optional, use only the stem part)
Green Onion 파
Red Chili Pepper 붉은 고추 (optional)
Green Chili Pepper 풋고추
2 clove(s)Garlic Clove (whole) 통마늘
½ ozGinger Root 생강

for red chili flake water

¼ Korean Pear 배
3 tbsGochugaru, Korean Hot Pepper Flakes 고추가루
1 cup  Water 물

for main broth

7 cupsWater 물 (to yield 6 cups of kelp broth or you can use 6 cups of plain water instead)
4 piece(s)Kelp (dried, 2" X 2" or 5 cm x 5 cm) 다시마
2 tbsCoarse Sea Salt 굵은 소금 (may vary depending on the brand of salt)
2 tbsSugar 설탕
Ingredients Notes: 

tools & equipments
-empty tea bag (optional but great to have)


Optional Ingredients and Substitutions

Minari (water dropwort) can be omitted although it adds a very nice flavor and aroma to the dish. If you are using minari, use only the stems. You can use the leaves for pancakes or namul.

Chili peppers can be omitted. Red chili peppers add a great red color which you can substitute with regular red pepper, carrots or chili treads (silgochu). Green chili peppers add a spicy kick.

Cucumber & carrots can be added. Only add a small amount of carrots and cucumbers so they don’t overpower the flavors.

Good to Know

Ginger and garlic in a tea bag:
In this recipe, ginger and garlic are julienned and placed in a tea bag. Then, they are placed in the container. This is a great way to infuse ginger and garlic flavors without any bits floating around in the kimchi broth.

However, if you don’t have a tea bag around, you can just mince garlic and ginger and add them in the broth.

Non-spicy variation
Traditionally nabak kimchi is reddish color from red chili flakes. But, you can leave out red chili flakes and it will still be delicious.

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. Make kelp broth

Bring 7 cups of water with 3-4 pieces (2” X 2”) of kelp to boil on high heat. Once it starts to boil, boil for another 10 min on medium heat. *You will need 6 cups of kelp broth later.

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Bring to boil High Heat image: highheat.png

  • 7 cups water
  • 3 pieces kelp

Boil Med Heat image: medheat.png image: clock.png 10 min

2. Cool down kelp broth

Remove kelp from the broth and let it cool on the side.

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Remove kelp

Cool down broth

3. Tear & Wash cabbage

Tear off leaves from ¼ napa cabbage (about 400g). Wash thoroughly twice under running water and drain.

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Tear off leaves

Wash twice


4. Cut cabbage

Cut the leaves into bite-sized pieces (1¼” X 1” or 3.5cm X 3cm).

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Cut (1¼” X 1” or 3.5cm X 3cm)

5. Cut Korean radish

Peel, wash and cut 200g of Korean radish into thin squares (1” X 1” X⅛” or 2.5cm x 2.5cm x 0.2cm).

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Peel, wash & cut

  • 200g Korean radish
  • (1” X 1” X ⅛“or 2.5cm x 2.5cm x 0.2cm)

6. Brine

Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of coarse sea salt all over the cabbage and the radish. Mix it up. Let it sit for about 30 min.

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  • 2 tbs coarse sea salt

on cabbage and radish

Let it sit image: clock.png 30 min

7. Mince pear

Mince ¼ Korean pear with a grater or a food processor.

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MInce ¼ Korean pear.

8. Make red chili flakes water

Mix 3 tablespoons of of (gochugaru) red chili flakes, minced pear and 1 cup of water. Set it aside to use it later.

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  • 3 tbs red chili flakes
  • minced pear
  • 1 cup water

Set aside

9. Julienne garlic and ginger

Julienne 2 cloves of garlic and x 10 g of ginger.

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Julienne 2 cloves garlic

10g ginger

10. Place it in a tea bag

Place julienned garlic and ginger in a tea bag and close it. This will be placed the bottom of the container at the end. This allows the flavors of garlic and ginger to be infused during the fermenting process without garlic and ginger bits floating around. See tips for an alternative method.

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Place cut garlic, ginger in tea bag

11. Place tea bag in container

Place the teabag with garlic and ginger at the bottom of a clean large container. An ideal container for best tasting nabak kimchi is a long narrow glass container with a lid but you can get away with other types.

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Place teabag in container

12. Filter red chili flakes water

Filter the red chili flakes water through a fine strainer.

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Filter chili water

13. Add veggies & chili water

Place salted cabbages and radishes in the container. Add filtered red chili water. Gently mix it around making sure the tea bag stays at the bottom. Let it sit for 10-20 min to make cabbages and radish more red (optional).

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Add to container

  • cabbages
  • radishes

Pour filtered chili water

Gently mix

Let it sit image: clock.png 20 min

14. Cut green onions

Wash and cut green onions into 1” (or 3 cm).

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Cut into 1” (or 3 cm)

  • 4 green onions

15. Slice chili peppers

Thinly slice 2 red chili peppers and 1 green chili peppers. Don’t add green chili peppers if you don’t like a spicy kick.

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Thinly slice

  • 2 red chili peppers
  • 1 green chili pepper

16. Season broth

Mix 6 cups of cooled kelp broth (or just plain filtered water) with 2 tablespoon of sugar and 2 tablespoon of coarse sea salt. Stir until all sugar and salt are dissolved.

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17. Add broth

Add green onions and red & green chili peppers to the container. Pour the broth into the container.

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18. Ferment

Close the lid and leave it in room temperature for 1-2 days for fermentation.

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Leave out

  • room temperature
  • 1-2 days

19. Add minari (optional)

After 1-2 days of fermentation at room temperature, wash and cut 60g of minari (water dropwort into 1” (3 cm) long pieces (use only the stem parts of the dropwort) and add them to the nabak kimchi. It is important to add the dropwort after fermenting to avoid a rapid fermentation process. Place the nabak kimchi in the fridge.

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Add 60g water dropwort

  • only stem
  • wash & cut 1” (3 cm) long
  • add to kimchi

Keep in the fridge

20. Serve

After it is fermented to your liking, keep it in the fridge. Mix well before serving and serve in a bowl as a side dish. Nanak kimchi tastes best when it is served cold. If it’s too salty, you can add some cold water or ice before serving.

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Store in the fridge

Mix well