How To Make Authentic Kimchi at Home

How To Make Authentic Kimchi at Home

Husband-and-wife team chef Daero Lee and Illa Kim are the brains, and the heart, behind Sydney’s first Korean brunch café and deli, SOUL Deli.

Situated near Taylor Square in the heart of Surry Hills, the new venue is a colourful blending of Aussie brunch favourites (think, eggs and smashed avo on toast) with traditional Korean foods like spicy pork belly, beef short rib, and – of course – kimchi.

Kimchi, being a well-loved staple of Korean cooking, is a classic dish that lovers of the cuisine know well. And while you can certainly find yourself some incredible examples of kimchi in SOUL Deli – which has its own kimchi bar – chef Daero Lee wants to share that you can also recreate the dish at home.

Image supplied: Daero Lee and Illa Kim

He explained over email to Lifehacker Australia that:

“Traditionally, kimchi is made with half or quartered wombok heads (also known as Chinese cabbage) brined in saltwater. However, there is an easier and faster way to make kimchi called Mat-Kimchi, in which the cabbage is cut into bite-size pieces. This makes it easier to handle and quicker to ferment. The traditional version is called Pogi-Kimchi.

“As kimchi is a fermented product, it can last for a long time in the refrigerator – about three to six months – as long as you always use clean serving utensils and cutlery to take out of the container and don’t add any other food or liquid – which can introduce bacteria, stop the fermentation process and make the kimchi go off.”

Sounds simple enough, no? If you’d like to give homemade Mat-Kimchi a go, Lee shared his recipe with us here.

How to make Daero Lee’s Mat-Kimchi

What you’ll need:

  • 1 wombok head
  • 1 cup rock salt
  • 1 bunch of shallots, roots removed
  • 1 cup steamed rice
  • 1 apple, cored
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 piece of ginger (garlic-clove size)
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 cup Korean chilli powder, or to taste (Gochugaru Korean chilli powder)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 white radish (daikon)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (preferably Korean fish sauce)
  • 1 cup steamed rice


  1. Cut the wombok into bite-size pieces, about 3-4cm (they will shrink in size when brined)
  2. Make the brine: Add the rock salt to 10 cups of water and mix well until dissolved
  3. Put cabbage in the brine and set aside for three hours
  4. Slice the shallots into 5cm pieces
  5. Make the sauce: Put the remaining ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add some water
  6. Drain the wombok (discarding the brine water) then wash it with fresh water a couple of times and drain it again (leaving it in the colander for 30 minutes)
  7. Mix the drained cabbage with the sauce from the blender and add the shallots
  8. Put into an air-tight container, leaving about 1cm from the top to allow for the gas from the fermentation process

Pop this baby in the fridge and bust it out anytime you have guests or a craving for Korean flavours.

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