Easy Vegan Kimchi

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This Easy Vegan Kimchi is a flavorful Korean condiment, it is made with Napa cabbage, Daikon radish, carrot, green onion, Gochugaru pepper, garlic, ginger. 

Easy Vegan Kimchi

This recipe was first published October 3, 2012, and updated August 17, 2020

Kimchi is a popular Korean condiment and a staple as a matter of fact it is their National dish. It is delicious as a side dish. I love to eat it with  Japjae Korean Stir Fry Noodles, Pineapple Fried Quinoa, or Vegetable Lo Mein.

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a Korean dish usually made with fermented vegetables and various seasonings. The vegetable is salted, seasoned, and fermented. It is basically their form of pickled vegetables similar to pickled vegetables in other countries like my Jamaican Vinegar-Free Pickle, and Salvadoran Curtido Recipe

Kimchi is eaten with nearly everything or used to make kimchi stew, soup, and fried rice.

Traditional versions use fish sauce and salted shrimp but my vegan version is so delicious, you won’t even notice the difference. 

I was first introduced to Kimchi and learned to make my own while living at a missionary college 16 years ago. Many of the students and staff were from Korea and they made homemade kimchi. I enjoy eating my kimchi immediately without fermenting it. 

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

Kimchi tastes sour, spicy, and garlicky. 

Vegan kimchi ingredients on a white marble background, napa cabbage, Korean pepper, carrot, green onion, Daikon radish

Easy Vegan Kimchi Ingredients

  • Napa Cabbage – I used a medium head of cabbage which had some green leaves. You can find Napa cabbage at most grocery stores but if they aren’t available at your store then check out the Asian supermarkets in your area. Substitute with savoy cabbage.
  • Daikon Radish – looks like a white carrot, this root vegetable is peppery, delicate and crisp. Found at health food stores in the produce aisle or at the local Asian supermarket.
  • Carrot – Adds a sweet crunchy flavor to your kimchi. You can substitute with an apple, persimmon, or Asian pear. 
  • Salt – I used Himalayan Salt for my kimchi, however, you can use any natural salts that are available, like Kosher or sea salt.
  • Water – to add to the base of the seasonings to make a puree. 
  • Green Onion – adds flavorful. 
  • Ginger – adds yummy flavor. 
  • Garlic – I use lots of garlic for flavor.
  • Cane Sugar – to balance flavors and speeds up fermentation. 
  • Gochugaru pepper – the good thing is you can tailor your kimchi to whatever spice level you like, you can use the traditional Korean red chili flake or substitute with sweet paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper if you can’t get the traditional Korean chili. Use paprika alone for a milder flavor.

Image showing knife cutting base of napa cabbage

Chef’s Tips 

  • Avoid purchasing the premade pepper paste from the Asian market, some of them contain seafood or wheat, and aren’t vegan and gluten-free. 
  • For a seafood substitute, add 1/2 teaspoon kelp powder. 
  • If you want a more distinct tang in your kimchi, allow it to ferment for about 2 days.
  • You can add sliced green onions to your kimchi.

Pouring pink salt from a blue measuring cup to napa cabbage, carrot sticks and daikon radish sticks in a glass bowl on a white marble background

How To Prepare Easy Vegan Kimchi?

Prepare The Napa Cabbage/Daikon Radish/Carrot

  1. To salt, the cabbage – cut the end of the cabbage at the base. Cut cabbage in 4 lengthwise.
  2. Wash cabbage and place in a bowl with Daikon radish and carrot matchsticks, pour 1 cup water over the cabbage, carrot, and radish sticks. 
  3. Massage the salt on the vegetables.

Salt that has been massaged in napa cabbage, carrot and daikon radish

  1. Allow the cabbage/radish/carrot to sit for at least one hour, turning over every 30 minutes to make sure all the leaves are soaking int the salt.

Prepare The Chili Paste

  1. Meanwhile, prepare the pepper sauce paste. Blend together water, green onion, ginger, garlic, sugar, Gochugaru pepper. 

Making kimchi paste in blender with ginger, green onion, garlic, pepper

  1. Drain and rinse the cabbage, radish, and carrot under cold water to remove excess salt. 
  2. Rub pepper sauce paste over the vegetables making sure to cover cabbage leaves back and front with the paste. 

kimchi with paste in a glass bowl with stripe napkin

  1. Transfer kimchi into a glass jar. you can eat your kimchi right away or allow to ferment for about 2-3 days on a counter away from the sunlight, then refrigerate for longer.

Overlay egan Kimchi in glass jars on cutting board on white marble background with black and white stripe napkin

Easy Vegan Kimchi Lacto-Fermentation Method Explained

 Fermenting kimchi utilizes the Lacto-fermented method which uses only salt, water, and vegetables in the fermentation process, without the need for vinegar. 

The vegetables are soaked in a brine solution. The bad bacteria is killed by the brine solution, leaving the good bacteria (lactobacilli). 

The good bacteria (lactobacilli) convert lactose in the vegetables to lactic acid, creating an acidic environment for the vegetables to preserve.

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Categories

Categories: ,
Course:
Cuisine:

Nutrition

(

Per serving

)
Energy: 83 kcal / 347 kJ
Fat: 0 g
Protein: 3 g
Carbs: 18 g

Cooking Time

Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 1 h
Ready in: 1 h 20 min
For: 6 Servings

Ingredients

Seasoning Paste

Instructions

Prepare Vegetables

  1. To salt, the cabbage - cut the end of the cabbage at the base. Cut cabbage in 4 lengthwise.
  2. Wash cabbage and place in a bowl with Daikon radish and carrot matchsticks, pour 1 cup water over the cabbage and radish, and rub salt on the leaves.
  3. Allow the cabbage/radish/carrot to sit for at least one hour, turning over every 30 minutes to make sure all the leaves are soaking int the salt.

Prepare Seasoning Paste

  1. Meanwhile, prepare the pepper sauce paste. Blend together water, green onion, ginger, garlic, sugar, Gochugaru pepper. 
  2. Drain and rinse the cabbage, radish, and carrot under cold water just to remove excess salt. (There should still be a salty taste but not too strong).
  3. Rub pepper sauce paste over the vegetables making sure to cover cabbage leaves back and front with the paste. 
  4. Transfer kimchi into a glass jar and eat right away or allow to ferment for about 2-3 days on a counter away from the sunlight, then refrigerate.
Recipe author's Gravatar image

Michelle Blackwood, RN

Hi, I’m Michelle, I’m the voice, content creator and photographer behind Healthier Steps. I share vegan and gluten-free recipes because of past health issues. My goal is to help you make healthier choices and show you how healthy eating is easy and delicious.

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4 Comments
  1. HEATHER PERINE
    August 18, 2020

    I love kimchi but have never made it myself! I can’t wait to make this recipe and have it on everything :)

  2. Stella
    August 18, 2020

    This kimchi looks really good! I can’t wait to try it!