This vegan kimchi is easy to make, made without fish sauce or shellfish products, and tastes just like regular napa cabbage kimchi! It's perfect for eating as a side while fresh and once it's well fermented, it'll be mouthwateringly tangy, which is still perfect as a side but also great for making kimchi jjigae, kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes), and this super easy and addictive 10-minute kimchi chili oil ramen!
3ouncesAsian chivescut into 1 inch pieces and discard about 1 to 2 inches of the tough stem (green onion is okay too) *see notes
Clean and salt the napa cabbage:
Peel away and discard any undesirable outer layer leaves of the napa cabbage.
With the napa cabbage laying on its side, quarter the cabbage long ways. You can also just cut the stem area of the cabbage and rip the rest of the cabbage open with your hand. Repeat with remaining napa cabbage.*Please refer to the post above for photo reference.*
Trim away excess part of the cabbage core. Then, rinse and wash each quarter of the napa cabbage with water to remove dirt or grim. Make sure to pay extra attention to the outer few leaves. Drain the cabbages as best as you can.
In a clean, sanitized area, salt each quarter of napa cabbage by sprinkling salt between each and every layer of leaves. Make sure to salt more generously around the stems.
In a clean, sanitized area, salt each quarter of napa cabbage by sprinkling salt between each and every layer of leaves. Make sure to salt more generously around the stems. Arrange and stack the cabbages in a large bowl. Cover and weigh down the cabbages with something heavy and let them salt for 1½ to 2 hours. Rotate the cabbages every 30 minutes, moving the ones on the top to the bottom.
To check if the napa cabbage is done salting, rip off a small leaf of cabbage and rinse it well with fresh water. Shake off and gently squeeze the cabbage to remove excess water and taste the cabbage. The cabbage will be very bendable and should taste well seasoned at the stem, while the leaf should be a littler saltier but not unbearable. If the cabbage does not taste salted enough, continue with the salting process for another 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the desired saltiness is achieved.
Once the napa cabbages are done salting, rinse the them with fresh water to remove excess salt. Make sure to get between each leaf. *We like to rinse our napa cabbage in a large bowl of water and repeating the process about 2 to 3 times with fresh water. We recommend tasting the cabbage after the final rinse to see if the cabbage require an additional round or two of rinsing.*
After the final rinse, gently but firmly squeeze each quarter of napa cabbage to remove most of the excess water, especially the leaves are. But don’t squeeze too hard or the stems may get bruised and damaged.
For the vegan kimchi marinade:
The kimchi marinade can be made while waiting for the cabbage to salt.First, make the rice flour paste. Whisk together the water and rice flour until well combined and no more clumps are visible. Transfer the mixture to a pan or saucepan and cook on medium to medium high heat until the mixture thickens into a translucent paste. Stir occasionally in the beginning and once the mixture starts to thicken, stir constantly. Transfer the paste to a large mixing bowl to cool.
In a blender, add the apple, onion, garlic, ginger, mushroom powder, and salt. Blend until smooth and everything is well combined. Scrape down the sides as needed and add half of the gochugaru. Blend until well combined and as smooth as possible. Transfer to the mixing bowl with the rice paste and also add the remaining gochugaru.
With gloved hands, mix the paste until everything is well combined and evenly coated. Then add the Korean radish, carrot, and Asian chives. Mix well and set aside until needed.
Marinate the salted napa cabbage:
With gloved hands, work with one quarter of a napa cabbage at a time. Place the cabbage in the bowl of prepared kimchi marinade and generously slather the marinade (with the veggies) in between each leaf of the cabbage. Fold the cabbage over itself and pack it into sterilized glass jars or BPA free plastic kimchi containers. Repeat with remaining napa cabbage.*Keep about ½ to 1 inch of space between the top of the kimchi and the lid to allow room for expansion during fermentation.*
This vegan kimchi can be cut and enjoyed immediately for fresh tasting kimchi or let it ferment for about 1 week or until sour for the classic tangy, funky flavors. You can even let the kimchi sit out at room temperature for 1 to 2 days before refrigerating to help speed up the fermentation process.
Please refer to the post above for step by step photo references, tips, storage, and FAQs!
Korean pear - We often switch between using apples or Korean pears in the kimchi marinade. It's essentially a natural addition of sugar and extra water content. If using Korean pear, make sure to peel the skin and discard the core.
Make sure to wear disposable gloves when applying the marinade onto the napa cabbage. The marinade will stain your hands.
Asian chives - These chives is part of what makes kimchi funky. You can find it at most Asian markets. If you prefer, you can use green onions instead. The whole green onion can be used. For the white part of the green onion, cut it in half lengthwise.
The nutrition information is an estimated calculation for 1 quart size jar of kimchi.