Classic cabbage kimchi


The classic variety of kimchi, and one most likely to be found at any meal, is made with crispy white Chinese leaves. The leaves are stained a vibrant red with chilli powder, and speckled with crushed garlic and ginger. The spiciness of the chilli contrasts with salty seafood flavours and a hint of tangy spring onion. This dish takes a minimum of two days to prepare.


  • 1 head Chinese leaves (Chinese cabbage), about 2kg/4½lb
  • salt

For the marinade

  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup coarse sea salt
  • 75 ml/5 tbsp water
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp table salt

For the seasoning

  • 2 oysters (optional)
  • ½ Chinese white radish, about 500g/1¼lb, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 25 g/1 oz Korean chives
  • 25 g/1 oz minari, watercress or rocket (arugula)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 15 g/½ oz fresh root ginger, peeled
  • ½ onion
  • ½ Asian pear, or ½ kiwi fruit
  • 1 chestnut, sliced
  • 3 spring onions (scallions), sliced
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup Korean chilli powder
  • 120 ml/4 fl oz/½ cup Thai fish sauce
  • 5 ml/1 tsp sugar
  • 1 red chilli, sliced


  1. Make a deep cut across the base of the head of Chinese leaves and split it into two by hand. Repeat with the two halves, splitting them into quarters. Place the quartered head in a bowl and cover with water, adding 30ml/2 tbsp salt. Leave to soak for 2 hours.
  2. Drain the cabbage and sprinkle with the sea salt for the marinade, making sure to coat between the leaves. Leave to stand for 4 hours.
  3. Hold an oyster with the rounded shell up. Push the tip of an oyster knife or short-bladed knife into the hinge of the oyster and twist to prise the shell open. Cut the two muscles inside. Run the blade between the shells to open them. Cut the oyster away from the flat shell. Repeat with the other oyster. Season with a pinch of salt.
  4. Cut the radish slices into fine strips. Cut the chives and minari, watercress or rocket into 5cm/2in lengths. Finely chop or blend the garlic, ginger, onion and Asian pear or kiwi fruit. Mix all the seasoning ingredients together in a large bowl with 120ml/4fl oz cup water.
  5. Rinse the softened quarters of Chinese leaves in cold running water. Place in a large bowl and coat with the seasoning mixture, ensuring that the mixture gets between the leaves and that no leaf is left uncovered.
  6. The outermost leaf of each quarter of cabbage will have softened, and can be wrapped tightly around the other leaves to help the seasoning permeate throughout.
  7. Place the Chinese leaves in an airtight container. Leave to stand at room temperature for 5 hours, then leave in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Per portion Energy 73kcal/303kJ; Protein 3.6g; Carbohydrate 13.5g, of which sugars 12.9g; Fat 0.6g, of which saturates 0.1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 121mg; Fibre 5.1g; Sodium 383mg.