Many vegetarians might not know this, but kimchi is usually not vegetarian because shrimp, oysters or fish sauce are frequently added to give it extra flavor. These are amazing flavors of savory umami-ness, and they are the same flavors I try to replicate and bring back in my version of vegan kimchi. I do this with a mixture of miso paste and seaweed, which will add savory flavors of seafood and the sea back into the kimchi.

I would say the only weird part of this recipe is that you leave the kimchi out on your kitchen counter for two days without refrigeration. But the salt you sprinkle on helps preserve the cabbage and the longer you ferment, the more sour the kimchi.

Some last words are that I researched both fresh and vegan methods of making kimchi along with the more traditional ones. I personally like to err on the side of tradition since it has the benefit of time and experience, so a lot of the techniques you see are what Koreans use still today to make the fermented cabbage.

Vegan Kimchi

  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1/2-3/4 cup salt
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 piece ginger, 2-inches
  • 1 sheet nori
  • 2 tablespoons Korean chili pepper(or more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 Asian pear
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 8 stalks scallions, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Cut napa cabbage in half and wash leaves.
  2. Sprinkle salt between each leaf, focusing on the thicker base of the cabbage.
  3. Place cabbage in a bowl with a heavy weight on top. Let sit for 2-4 hours, rotating the cabbage each hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend the garlic, ginger, nori, Korean chili pepper, miso, brown sugar and Asian pear until smooth. Fold in the shredded carrots and chopped scallions.
  5. Once the cabbage is ready, drain and quickly rinse leaves. Distribute the chili paste between each leaf of the cabbage.
  6. Cut cabbage in half again and roll up the leaves starting from the base. Place into glass container, being sure to add in any additional chili paste or liquid left over.
  7. Leave glass container in room temperature for 2 days. Then store in refrigerator until ready to eat.