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How To Make Kohlrabi Kimchi Recipe

Written by the YesChef staff

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Edward Lee
Teaches his Korean-American Cuisine
If you’re looking for a truly original and easy kimchi recipe, learn how to make chef Edward Lee’s remarkable spin on traditional kimchi with kohlrabi. Unlock the hidden flavors of cabbage through the simple act of fermentation.
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Edward Lee
Teaches his Korean-American Cuisine

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What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a Korean staple made from fermented cabbage, along with umami packed aromatics and flavorings including scallions, ginger, garlic, gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), and fish sauce. “Less of a recipe and more of a lifestyle,” Edwards explains, kimchi makes a great side dish or condiment for any rich food.

What to Eat with Kimchi

Kimchi is found on tables throughout Korea and around the world. We love serving kimchi alongside fried chicken with gochujang sauce or cabbage steamed fish. Edward likes kimchi with meats, barbeques, noodle dishes, hot dogs, burgers, and much more. “It’s limitless,” Edward says of kimchi’s potential applications. “If you can dream it up, it can become a kimchi.”

How is Kimchi Traditionally Made?

In Korea, the cabbage is fermented in large ceramic pots called onggi are buried in the ground to keep the cabbage cool enough to slow down the fermentation process. There are some reports that the pots are left to ferment for seven years.

What is Fermentation of Food?

Edward calls fermentation the “most original, the most basic, the most natural form of cooking we know.” Fermenting food is the chemical breakdown of food’s natural sugars by the bacteria, microbes, yeast, and cultures present in the air. Fermentation unlocks hidden flavors in so many ingredients. Kohlrabi, for example, isn’t naturally flavorful. “But go ahead and ferment it for a week,” Edward says, and you’ll taste flavors present in the vegetable that you didn’t know were there. All you need for fermenting food is time, room temperature, salt, and natural sugar, like from fruit. After that, Edwards says, “the natural environment will do its thing.” In Edward’s easy kimchi recipe, the addition of a sweet green apple, scallions, ginger, garlic, and gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes) also help transform kohlrabi into kimchi.

What Vegetables are Good to Ferment?

You can make kimchi at home from many different ingredients. It’s best to use vegetables that are fresh and hearty, with a crispy crunch and sturdy structure that will hold up over an extended period of time. For that reason, cabbage and fennel make great kimchis. Other vegetables that are good to ferment are radishes and garlic while ginger, lemongrass, and red pepper flakes (or Korean chili flakes) are excellent spices to use in fermentation. Edward likes using vegetables that are in season to make his homemade kimchi recipe.

Is Kimchi Good for You?

Yes. Kimchi is very healthy. Kimchi is full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are good for both the body and the mind. Kimchi contains choline, a nutrient that promotes a healthy nervous system while aiding your muscles, cells, memory, and even mood. Kimchi has lots of Vitamin K, which aids blood flow and in the maintenance of healthy bones. Kimchi is rich in antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of serious diseases and contains Vitamin C, which is great for immunity. Plus, because kimchi is fermented, it’s a probiotic. Kimchi contains healthy bacteria that are excellent for digestion and that can fight symptoms of colon inflammation and gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome.

What is Kohlrabi?

Kohlrabi, which Edward uses in his amazing and unconventional kimchi recipe, is a wild summer vegetable similar to cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it consists of a bulb and leafy stems, both of which are edible, a yellowish interior, and thick skin.  Kohlrabi, which is also known as German turnip or cabbage turnip, tastes simple and clean. It’s similar to that of a radish, but not as spicy, with a sweet and peppery flavor. Kohlrabi is the main ingredient in Edward’s easy recipe for kimchi.

How to Make Kimchi from Kohlrabi

Edward makes his kimchi with kohlrabi by cutting and peeling the skin of the kohlrabi into bite-sized cubes (precision is not important, he says) and putting them in a large bowl. For a sweet onion flavor with some bite, he adds kimchi ingredients like finely-cut scallions to the recipe. He grates an unpeeled green apple – the addition of sugary fruit is important for facilitating the fermentation process – which he includes in his large bowl along with grated radishes, ginger (“You can’t have enough ginger,” he says), two cloves of garlic, Korean chili flakes, and salt, which is also essential in helping foods ferment. (The best type of salt to use to facilitate the fermentation process, Edward says, is a natural salt like sea salt.) 

With the kimchi ingredients all in the bowl, Edward uses his hands to squeeze, massage, and batter the ingredients. Doing so helps release the natural juices from the vegetables and fruit while the natural microbes from your hands will help ferment the food. “All of those people who tell you not to play with your food, well guess what: now’s your chance,” he says. 

Edward also adds tap water which, unlike bottled water, helps ferment the food because of the microbes present in it.

Kohlrabi Fermentation Tips

  • For the best kimchi recipes, always add a fruit element. The natural sugar and carbohydrates facilitate fermentation.
  • Finely grated aromatics will ferment much faster than the larger pieces of cabbage, which will lead to more flavor.
  • Use your hands. Squeeze, massage, and batter the vegetables to coax and draw out as much flavor as possible.
  • Use tap water, which has natural microbes, versus filtered or bottled water.
  • Top off the kimchi with a few pieces of the leftover kohlrabi peel. This packs the vegetables super tight and removes any unwanted air bubbles.

Kohlrabi Kimchi

Serves: 5
Hands-on: 15 min
Total: 48 hr 15 min



  • 2 kohlrabies
    peeled, and cut into large cubes (reserving skin)
  • 4 scallions
    green and white parts diced
  • 4 tablespoons tap water
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 large watermelon radish
  • 4 inch ginger
    scraped & grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chili flakes



  • 6 inch knife
    such as the Nakiri from Middleton Made Knives
  • Cutting board
    such as the John Boos Maple Design Cutting Board
  • 4 quarts mixing bowl
  • Microplane
  • Stainless steel tablespoon
    for ginger scraping
  • 3 liters preserving jar
    sterilized, sealable, and with a wide mouth




Edward Lee

James Beard Award winning writer and best-selling cookbook author Edward Lee takes viewers from the farm to his restaurants and home in Louisville, Kentucky and teaches lessons on his beloved dishes including Fried Chicken with Gochujang Sauce, Oysters and Grits, Cabbage-Steamed Fish, and more.

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