Make That Funky Kimchi White Boy

Over at eG Forums we have a few discussions going (1) (2) pertaining as to why Korean Food has not become “mainstream” in the United States. I’ve offered up a couple of different theories, one of which is that Korean food is so incredibly in-your-face bold and assertive and incorporates certain flavors and combinations in such an intensity that many Americans might find off-putting — that being the fact that so much of Korean food is fermented or pickled, and that they use massive amounts of chile and garlic.

Be it as it may, I’m a huge fan (1) of Korean food (2). I’ve been told by other Koreans that I am practically an honorary Korean, because I have such a high tolerance for spicy and garlicky, and I actually LIKE to eat Kimchi.

Kimchi can be a challenge for those that aren’t used to it. The heavy garlic and red chile spice combined with a very long fermentation (some Kimchis are fermented for MONTHS) can practically melt the chrome off a Harley Davidson exhaust manifold and so will your breath after eating it afterwards. But there are some Kimchis that aren’t fermented very long and are much closer in fermentation to a “new ” Kosher pickle, although they maintain the heavy garlic and chile profile. One of these is Oi Kimchi, or cucumber Kimchi. It’s one of my favorites. And if you have a huge bumper crop of cucumbers in your garden, its a great thing to do with them besides making Kosher Dills or the endless tomato cucumber salads.

Today, I actually tried making Oi Kimchi for the first time. I went to my local H-Mart to pick up the necessary ingredients.

Koreans use so much garlic that they buy it pre-peeled in huge quantities. Each of these containers represents about one meal’s worth for the average Korean family. No I’m not joking — a week supply is like a half a gallon, and they sell those too. One container will be sufficient for our purposes.

Get a bunch of fresh scallions.

Find a nice hand of ginger.

Here’s where we get into the specialty ingredients. This big sucker is a Moo (pronounced Moo, like what the cow does) or a giant Korean radish. It has a texture and flavor similar to a French-style pink radish, somewhat spicier than a Daikon. If you can’t find one of these, Daikon will do, and you can grate up some regular pink radishes into the mix for flavor.

Kimchi chile flakes. Get the medium coarseness one. All the brands are basically the same.

If you don’t have a Korean grocery near you, try getting it online.

Brine shrimp, which is optional. It adds that extra something. You can also get some shucked oysters too, which is also commonly used in Kimchi recipes. This stuff is very salty and if you do use it, I’d cut the salt from the recipe in half.

Your Kimchi Mise-en-place:

  • 2 lb UNWAXED Cucumbers or Kirbys for pickling. Mine came from my garden.
  • 1 Korean Mul Radish or 1 Daikon and 4 or 5 pink radishes
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 4Tbsp Garlic — minced
  • 1Tbsp Ginger — fresh, minced
  • 2Tbsp-4Tbsp Kimchi chile
  • 1.5Tbsp Salt (use only 1Tbsp if you got the brine shrimp)
  • 1Tbsp Sugar


  • 1Tsp of Brine Shrimp, thoroughly mashed

You will also need a large container such as several quart size deli containers or a 1 or 1/2 gallon plastic tub or big Tupperware container.

After washing I cut off the ends of the cucumbers (it’s bitter) and sliced them lengthwise and then into 2 inch long half-barrels.

I cut up the radish into 3 peices and cut off the outside skin with a chef’s knife.

I grated one of the big radish pieces and got about 8oz of radish plus radish water.

I put the grated radish into a clean dishrag (a cheesecloth would be optimal) and wrung the radish water into my large container along with the reserved radish water from the bowl. This should yeild about 1 cup of radish juice total.

Next I took 1 Teaspoon of brine shrimp and ground them into a paste in the mortar and pestle.

I put the cucumber slices into the container (with the radish juices) along with the grated radish, cut up scallions, cubed up radish from another big piece (rest was put in the fridge in water for a snack), brine shrimp paste, 4tbsp of garlic, 1tbsp of grated fresh ginger, 1Tbsp of salt (or 1.5Tbsp if without the brine shrimp), 1Tbsp of sugar, and 2-4Tbsp of Kimchi Chile flakes depending on how hot you like it. Mix up well, and then add approximately 2 cups of water until everything becomes covered.

Let stand at room temperature (72 degrees) for 48 hours with lid or plastic wrap covering, then transfer to deli containers or smaller Tupperware in the fridge. Give to friends. Share and eat.

Oi Kimchi is great as a side dish to Bulgogi or Korean Short Ribs (Kalbi) with short grain rice.

19 Responses to Make That Funky Kimchi White Boy

  1. coffeepot says:

    That looks interesting.

    Does the chile make it red like that?

    Could one substitute hot chili sauce?

    Like Sriracha Sauce?

  2. Yes the chile makes it red. No you gotta use the kimchi chile flakes. If you don’t have a Korean grocery near you, you should be able to order the stuff online.

  3. coffeepot says:

    Well I’m just trying to figure something to do with a bunch of cukes. I am sick of pickles.

    I don’t have a store near me in my neck of the hills and I’m not sure the cukes will last until I could get it shipped.

    Thanks anyway.

  4. Gerald says:

    That’s really interesting, I thought kimchee was so much more complicated to make at home. Did it stink up the whole house for those 2 days it was sitting out? I can’t get enough of the stuff, especialy kaktugee, but when I buy it, I always double-wrap it in plastic bags so that the smell doesn’t permeate throughout everything else in the fridge.

  5. Yeah, I can imagine that its tough to get in W.Va.

  6. Gerald:

    I just made it last night, so it won’t be ready to eat until Monday night. But so far it doesnt stink unless you get your face really close to it. Then again I also have a gallon of regular Jewish pickles going so I could be desensitzed to the odor by now.

  7. spamwise says:

    I’m surprised you don’t have any fermented squid guts in the mix. ^ ^

  8. carlo*89 says:

    I like this article about how to make kimchi. I have an officemate who is so addicted to kimchi that there was a time she had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now that I know how to make it I can surprise her. Thanks

  9. Pan says:

    Hey, Jason, have you tried the kimchi yet? How did it turn out?

  10. Rake says:

    Awesome…Never seen any careful and detail recipe like this! Love this! Im getting hyper just to look at food…hopefully Ill be able to get some more videos about Korean foods! If you have any, please post too!
    Thanks so much,

  11. Jennifer says:

    I live in Hawaii and it’s heating up, so the 72 degree rule doesn’t apply to me. It’s always 85 plus these days here. Or is it safe at 85 without going rotten?

  12. Jersey Gene says:

    looks good. I really like kimchi with with pizza and pastas.

  13. Tamar says:

    I have a kimchi pizza recipe you can try if you like your food really spicy. Imagine kimchi pizza with dak kalbi sauce. Go to my website and check it out.

  14. bonhee says:

    wow you are more korean than me. haha

  15. jennifer says:

    I’m so glad there are other non korean folks who dig on KIM CHEE. I make various types of Kim Chee myself. I’m sure yours was very yum. Next time you make it- scrub don’t peel the radish. There are micro organisms from the soil that aid the natural fermentation process and increase the probiotic value of the finished product.

    Thanks for your fun blog!

  16. Sandra says:

    No, I really think you need to use the dried red chili powder. I think it draws out more liquid than a paste like Sriracha would, kind of like salt does.

  17. Ayan says:

    I’m non-Korean but fortunate enough to live in Atlanta, which has a huge south Asian population. We have four (4!) Super H Marts and a monstrous entity known as Buford Highway Farmer’s Market, a former Home Depot converted into a combination Asian / Mexican grocery megastore, where the kimchi and tofu are made fresh on premises.

    I want to try making kimchi and this recipe looks good. More importantly, it features photos of ingredient packages. Excellent. (I have an envelope of cut-up bits of packaging that I use to identify and re-purchase brands I’ve tried and like. Most asian food packaging is red, so buying “the red brand with Korean writing” doesn’t work.)

    My only question is about the sugar. How sweet is this kimchi? My Korean friend is horrified by the idea of putting sugar in any kind of kimchi, but most recipes I’ve seen do include it. She says it’s more of a Seoul thing, a regional variation, kind of like the dichotomy between northern sweet cornbread and southern savory cornbread.

  18. […] help I consulted a wide arrange of sources from Chow, Epicurious, Off the Broiler, and Lily's Wai Sek […]

  19. Jen McEwen says:

    Hi Jason,
    Found this while searching for some Korean recipes. I’ll try your kimchi recipe sometime! Happy to read that you’re a big fan of Korean food. Next time you’re in Seattle, hit up the MiKandi crew, and we’ll take out to some of our favorite Korean joints. Korean food is a must for our crew! :)

    –Jen, MiKandi

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