Eugenia Kim’s Easy Cabbage Kimchi

Eugenia Kim’s Easy Cabbage Kimchi

In The Kinship of Secretskimchi is featured in both Inja’s Korean story and Miran’s American story (the two young sisters at the heart of the novel). In Seoul, Inja’s aunt makes terrible kimchi that worsens as it ferments over the winter. As a way to earn money, Miran’s mother makes gallons of fresh kimchi and sells them to Asian restaurants in Washington, DC.

The Kinship of Secrets was inspired by family stories; this recipe is remembered from my mother making kimchi in a laundry tub in the basement. Kimchi takes a few days to ferment but can last for weeks in the refrigerator once ripened. Serve as a side dish/salad with rice and an entrée such as bulkogi (Korean beef) or fried tofu. I enjoy eating kimchi with almost any food, including breakfast pancakes, spaghetti and curry.

Eugenia Kim’s Website

Eugenia Kim’s Easy Cabbage Kimchi

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 24 hours

Yield: About 2 quarts

A hot and spicy accompaniment to Eugenia Kim's KINSHIP OF SECRETS


1 large head Napa cabbage (3–4 pounds), washed and sliced crosswise into 2-inch pieces

¾ –1 pound red radishes, sliced thin (I use a mandoline). You can substitute Asian white radish, julienned or sliced thin into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons coarse salt

1 bunch scallions (about 6), white parts sliced thin, green parts cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 –3 tablespoons Korean style hot red chili powder, depending on how spicy you like your kimchi

1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

Cold water


Mix sliced cabbage and radish together in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and mix with your hands. Let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. A large amount of liquid will leach out. In a colander, rinse vegetables well under cold running water, drain, and press out liquid.

Return cabbage/radish mixture to rinsed-out bowl. Add green and white scallions.

Add the garlic, chili powder, and fish sauce if using. Thoroughly toss the cabbage mixture until all the vegetables are coated with spice. Will taste salty.

Put kimchi into glass jars, or plastic containers with tight lids. Add cold water to barely cover vegetables. Cap tightly and rinse and dry the jars. Let stand 12 hours or overnight at room temperature. Refrigerate for 3 days, taste, and if too “raw” tasting, wait another day. Kept refrigerated, kimchi will last a few weeks, depending on how ripe you like your kimchi.


Korean style hot red chili powder is available from McCormick and online. Or, you can substitute 2-3 tablespoons red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon paprika for color.

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