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Recipe for Kimchi by Chef Edward Lee

Written by the YesChef staff

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Edward Lee
Teaches From Buttermilk to Bourbon
If you’re looking for a truly original easy recipe for kimchi, learn how to make chef Edward Lee’s remarkable spin on a traditional kimchi with kohlrabi. Unlock the hidden flavors of cabbage through the simple act of fermentation. Chef Edward Lee teaches us an easy kimchi recipe, with one special ingredient twist, in his lesson, Kohlrabi Kimchi. Learn from the master himself on how to transform a humble vegetable into a crunchy, sour, and beautiful creation.
Chef Edward Lee
Teaches From Buttermilk to Bourbon

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Kimchi is a Korean staple made from fermented cabbage, along with umami packed aromatics and flavorings including scallions, ginger, garlic, gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes), and fish sauce.

How is kimchi traditionally made?

In Korea, the cabbage is fermented in large ceramic pots called onggi that are buried in the ground to keep it 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?

Chef Edward Lee believes that fermentation is 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. The addition of scallions, ginger, garlic, and gochugaru is what transforms it into kimchi.

What vegetables do you want to ferment?

Kimchi can be made from many different ingredients. It’s best to use vegetables, and even fruits, that are fresh and hearty, with a crispy crunch and sturdy structure. The key is that it will hold up over an extended period of time. Some of chef Edward Lee’s favorite kimchis include cabbage, fennel, and honeydew.

What is different about this version of kimchi?

Today’s recipe is not a conventional kimchi. Instead, it’s made with kohlrabi, a wild variety of cabbage. 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.

How to make kimchi from kohlrabi

Chef Edward Lee shares his unique recipe for kimchi with kohlrabi. As he eloquently puts it, “Kimchi is less of a recipe and more of a lifestyle.”   Preparation time Hands-on: 15 minutes | Total: 48 hours 15 minutes Serving size 5 servings   Ingredients:
  • 3 kohlrabies, ends removed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes (reserving skin)
  • 4 scallions, green and white parts finely chopped
  • 1 green apple, finely grated
  • 1 large watermelon radish, skin on, finely grated
  • 4-inch (10 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 handful (about ¼ cup) flaky sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon (½ fl ounce) fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Korean chili flakes (gochugaru)
  • 2 tablespoons (1 fl ounce) tap water
  • Sterilized and sealable jar, at least 3 liters with a wide mouth
  • Microplane
  • Cutting board such as the John Boos Maple Design Cutting Board
  • 6 inch knife such as the Nakiri from Middleton Made Knives
  • 4 quarts mixing bowl
  • Stainless steel tablespoon for ginger scraping
  • Place kohlrabies in a large bowl and add scallions, apple, watermelon radish, ginger, and garlic cloves.
  • Add sea salt, fish sauce, and gochugaru (Korean chili flakes).
  • Work the mixture with clean hands to kick start fermentation.
  • Pour the tap water into the bowl.
  • Mix them further by hand until the mixture is well combined.
  • Pack it tightly in a sterilized and sealable preserving jar.
  • Remove as much air as possible before covering with kohlrabi peels.
  • Seal the preserving jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Store at room temperature for one week and transfer to the fridge for up to several months.
Looking for an easy vegan recipe? Replace the fish sauce with an equal amount of soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos for vegan kimchi.  

Fermentation tips

  • 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 leads 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.

What to eat with kimchi

Kimchi is found on many tables throughout Korea, and around the world. We love serving kimchi alongside fried chicken with gochujang sauce or cabbage steamed fish.




Edward Lee

James Beard Award’s Best Book of the Year winner for writing (Buttermilk Graffiti, 2019); James Beard Award’s Best Chefs in America nominee, 2011-2017), featured on PBS’s Mind of a Chef (Season 3)

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