The Easiest Way to Make Vegan Kimchi

A spicy, fermented vegetable mix laced with ginger, garlic, and Korean chile flake (gochugaru). This recipe is the easiest way to make vegan kimchi. It brings the spice and funk to give your dishes deep, rich flavor and surprisingly pairs with so many different types of food.

jar of kimchi sitting to ferment

Why Would Kimchi Not Be Vegan?

This is a good question. A lot of the foods that we assume would be vegan by default have animal ingredients in them as a part of the seasoning. Dried fish or shellfish is often used as a flavoring ingredient in Kimchi and other Asian condiments. While there are a few commercial vegan brands out there in the markets, I love to make my own because I can control how much spice I want and what types of vegetables I like to use.

Vegan Kimchi Ingredients

Although I give a basic recipe here, feel free to improvise. Make kimchi with any combination of these vegetables:

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Mustard Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Daikon Radish
  • Carrots
  • Green Onions
  • Soybean Sprouts

The Spice Mix for Vegan Kimchi

Once you have your vegetables, you will season them with a mixture of ginger, garlic, and a Korean chile flake called Gochugaru. In my recipe here I use a medium amount of the chile flake, but you can add more or less to your liking.

What is the Easiest Way to Make Vegan Kimchi

You've probably heard stories about kimchi being burried in the ground and taken out years later- perfectly preserved and pungently delicious. To make that kind of ferment takes a lot of science and a very thoughtfully curated fermentation environment.

The easy way, is by using Lacto-Fermentation. In very simplistic terms, this is brining a food with salt so that natural bacterias break down the sugar in the food and turn it into lactic acid. As with every type of fermentation, you want to be clean. However, lacto-fermentation is the most lenient of processes and is the most common of household fermenting. Think of pickles and sauerkraut and yes....kimchi! The best thing about it is that it takes little more than salt, seasonings, and a few clean jars.

Tricks for Making Vegan Kimchi

There's a few tools and tricks I use to make my kimchi:

  • Julienne Peeler- this cheap gadget is just the best and being able to quickly turn vegetables into thin cut strips. Forget fancy spiralizers and food processor attachments. This under $10 tool takes up little space and makes things like cutting the carrots for this recipe a snap.
  • The Ziplock Bag Trick- once your ingredients start to ferment, you need to weigh them down so that they stay underneath the liquid that accumulates. A cheap and easy way to do this is to make a quick brine (1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt to 1 quart warm water). Fill a ziplock bag with some of the brine, push the air out, and seal. You can lay this ziplock bag as a weight on top of your vegetables to keep them down. Don't worry if any of the liquid spills out, the ratio is right for any lacto-ferment.
  • Microplane Grater- another inexpensive essential in my kitchen tools. This will grate ginger or garlic or zest citrus in the finest of ways. No stringy ginger for this recipe!
  • Use Your Hands- this is one of those recipes where you really have to get in there with your hands and touch your food. Massaging in the spices and salt help ensure that all parts of the vegetables are coated. Fermentation and flavoring will be evenly distributed.
  • The Burp Lid- sounds funny right? Part of fermentation is needing to let the natural gases that build up in your jar escape. With the large jar, because I am watching the ferment closely, I am opening and stirring frequently. But once I transfer my kimchi into smaller jars, I like to use fermentation burp lids, which let the gases out and keep everything still covered and fresh. I don't need to check or monitor it at all.

Are You Ready To Start?

To learn more about the history of Kimchi, take a look at this article. Once you make your first batch of kimchi, tell me what you think and tag me on instagram @chefkajsa.

Recipe

jar of kimchi sitting to ferment

Vegan Kimchi

A spicy, fermented cabbage and vegetable mix laced with ginger, garlic, and Korean chile flake (gochugaru). This easy vegan version brings the spice and funk to give your dishes deep, rich flavor and surprisingly pairs with so many different types of food.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Fermentation Time 4 days
Total Time 4 days 20 minutes
Course Recipes- Condiments
Cuisine Korean
Servings 16 portions
Calories 21 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head Napa Cabbage
  • 2 heads Baby Bok Choy
  • 2 Large Carrots peeled
  • 2 Green Onions
  • 1 ½ tablespoon Grated Ginger
  • 1 head Garlic peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 4 tablespoon Korean Chile Flake

Instructions
 

  • Cut the root end off the cabbage and then cut lengthwise into wedges. Cut each wedge in half so they are in shorter pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
    cutting cabbage for kimchi
  • Cut the root end off the baby bok choy and cut it into long strips, similar in size to the cabbage. Place in the same mixing bowl.
    cutting bok choy for kimchi
  • Using a “noodle peeler” cut your carrots into thin vegetable strips and add to the mixing bowl.
    cutting carrots with a julienne peeler
  • Add the grated ginger, chopped garlic, salt and chile flake to the bowl.
    grating ginger
  • Gently massage with your hands to incorporate and rub the flavors into the vegetables.
    massaging spices into the vegetables for kimchi
  • Place in a clean gallon size glass canning jar, or a fermentation crock if you have one.
    placing kimchi in a canning jar to ferment
  • If using a canning jar, place weights or a brine filled ziplock bag to hold the ingredients down.
    ziplock bag with brine for weighing down ferments
  • Cover and let sit for 4 days at room temperature, being sure to open the lid and stir once or twice a day.
    jar of kimchi sitting to ferment
  • After 4 days, the ingredients will have shrunk down. You can place them into smaller quart jars with burp lids and set them in the refrigerator.
  • The kimchi is ready to eat after day 4. The longer it sits, the more yummy funky flavor will build. But too long, and it might not be as appealing- you will need to taste each day and eat when it tastes delicious to you.

Notes

Remember that this is a live fermentation and so natural gases will build. If you are not going to use a burp lid, then remember to occasionally open your lid to let gases escape

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 21kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 0.4gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1352mgPotassium: 211mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2066IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 1mg
Keyword best vegan kimchi, Best Vegan Recipes, how to make vegan kimchi, kimchi, vegan kimchi
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