Dec 25

Christmas Kimchi

If you want to keep warm on a cold day, make your own kimchi.

It reminds me of making a fire. It warms you three times.

Prepping the ingredients will warm you up. Building your kimchi will warm you up. And eating it will certainly warm you up.

Kimchi is full of good stuff

The main ingredients are cabbage, onions, radish,  ginger, garlic and chili pepper powder.

My taste buds aren’t accustomed to fermented kimchi, so the one I’m detailing below is a “fresh” kimchi.

From start to finish, you need two to three hours to make this. Half of the time is spent leaving it alone.

Cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic and gochutgaru, say hello to Christmas kimchi.

Cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic and gochutgaru, say hello to Christmas kimchi.

What you need to make Christmas kimchi

  • Bok choy: My latest, greatest and fave-ist vegetable. I have used pearl baby bok choy and pearl Shanghai bok choy, roughly a dozen heads of each.
  • Spring onions (aka green onions): You’ll need a “bunch” of these, approximately 1 cup when chopped.
  • Onion: Half of one, sliced.
  • Asian radish: Half, sliced up to 1/4 inch (approximately 1 cm) thick pieces (any radish will work).
  • Ginger: A big thumb, grated or finely chopped.
  • Garlic: Half a clove, grated or finely chopped.
  • Salt solution (brine): One part salt to four parts water.
  • Gochutgaru (Korean red pepper powder): Half a cup, made into a paste.
  • Roasted sesame seeds: One table spoon.
  • White sugar: One tablespoon.

All of these above ingredients are “to taste”. You want more of something? Add more. Less of something? Add less. And so on.

The only exception to this is the salt solution, as this is part of the process in making kimchi. The salt in the solution draws water out of the cabbage. This happens because the concentration of water is higher in the cabbage, so it leaves the cabbage to equalise the concentration of water between the two areas.

This is technically defined as osmosis—the transfer (or diffusion) of water molecules across a membrane that only allows small molecules, such as water molecules, to pass through (semi-permeable). This will continue as long as there is a difference in water concentration.

As the water leaves the cabbage, the internal structure collapses.

What makes this “Christmas” kimchi?

Ahh, my special Christmas ingredient: Brussel sprouts (it’s still a cabbage after all ;-).

Kimchi also has the right colours: Red and green.

And it’s even snowing out.

How to make Christmas Kimchi

Wash all the vegetables.

  • To prepare the bok choy, turn each head of cabbage upside down so that the leafy part is pointing down. Then trim the root end with a knife, taking off half an inch maybe. The individual cabbage leaves should be easy to separate now. Rinse them.
  • Peel the outer layers of the brussel sprouts and wash thoroughly. Trim the root end and cut in half, or quarters.
  • Peel and chop up the radish.
  • Chop up the onions, grate the  ginger and garlic and set these to one side.

Prepare the salt solution (brine).

  • Dissolve one cup of salt in four cups of water. You may need more than this.
  • Place the bok choy, brussel sprouts and radish into the salt solution.
  • Ensure there is enough liquid to submerge all the vegetables.
  • Leave for approximately 1 hour, and stir every 20 minutes.

Rinse and drain.

  • Once the cabbage is at the desired turgidity (able to snap just before being bent completely in half, see a demo here ;-). Rinse. The more you rinse, the more of the salty taste you will remove.
  • Allow to drain for 20 minutes or so.
  • Get the ginger, garlic, onions and gochutgaru (Korean red pepper powder) ready.

Prepare the gochutgaru.

  • Add a little bit of water at a time to the gochutgaru, stir and mix into a paste.
  • Place the drained greens into a large bowl.
  • Add the onions, ginger and garlic. Mix.
  • Add half of the gochutgaru paste. Mix.
  • Add 1–2 tablespoons of white sugar. Mix.
  • Add 1–2 tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds. Mix.
  • Taste.
  • Mix.
  • Taste.
  • Mix.
  • Add as much or as little of the remaining gochutgaru paste.
  • Add more salt, sugar or roasted sesame seeds if needed.


The kimchi is ready to at this point. When you serve it, drizzle a little sesame oil over it, and add a few more roasted sesame seeds.

I would suggest putting it in airtight containers in the fridge to store. It will keep for up to a month—as this is meant to be a “fresh” kimchi, it peaks after a couple days.

All that you see in this video, I finished in a week. It came out great and I couldn’t stop eating it.

Thanks for reading ;->
Wael Elazab.



  1. Jessica

    I love kimchi! Perhaps I should try making my own. Thank you for the well-written recipe.


    1. Waelae

      You’re more than welcome, always pleased to share pickles ;->

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