Vegan Kimchi

Vegan KimchiI often receive email messages from my readers regarding kimchi recipes.

I have posted several cabbage kimchi recipes with different approaches. The most authentic way of making winter cabbage kimchi, spring cabbage kimchi, easy and simple method kimchi, and the fastest 30 miniute kimchi are some of them. They all use napa cabbages that we can find very easily in many stores these days. Of course there are non-cabbage kimchi recipes posted on my site as well.

Kimchi is closed to a vegetarian dish since there is no meat involved, but it uses a little fish (anchovy) sauce to bring the flavor. Therefore it is NOT a vegan.

I know there are quite a number of people who are vegans or who can not have seafood due to an allergy issue. So I gave some thoughts on making kimchi to be a complete vegan and fish free. And behold, the Vegan Kimchi is born!!! There is no animal product used in this recipe. All from vegetable source.

Also I always use a kind of fruit to sweeten the kimchi a little. I have shown you using a pear, apple and even banana in the kimchi recipes. Today, I will throw another fruit.

Curious?  You shall see.


tutorialFirst, cut cabbages into chunks like that. I use young napa cabbage. You can use a grown-up cabbage (?) if you can’t find the young ones.


tutorial-3Spread you cabbages in a shallow bowl or in a sink (cover the drainage tightly so it won’t leak) like I did.


tutorial-2You can pour salt water (1 cup salt dissolved in 8 cup water) and pour over. Let the cabbage soak for 2-3 hours. Make sure you turn them around so the bottom side of cabbages go to the top halfway through.

If you don’t have that 2-3 hours time, you can sprinkle about 1/4 cup of salt directly over to the cabbage and let them sit for 45-60 minute turning once like I did in spring cabbage kimchi.

If, I mean if,  you are in a rush and don’t even have the 1 hour,  then see my 30 minute kimchi post to get an idea how you can salt the cabbage very quickly.


tutorial-5No matter what method you use, after all the soaking..,  your cabbage should be able to bend like your yoga master.

(If the white stem part is a little stiff, that is okay. Even you can’t bend your back like that after the first free trial yoga class, right? They will eventually bend during the fermentation process. And your back will too, after 3 month course classes. Maybe? or maybe not.)


tutorial-10Rinse your cabbage 2-3 times in the running water to get rid of the extra salt residue. Drain them well and set aside.


tutorial-4While cabbage is soaking, you can make vegetable stock to use in this recipe.

Put pumpkin chunks, shiitake mushroom, and a piece of dried sea kelp (if you can’t have sea kelp, omit it)  in a pan and pour some water just to barely cover them. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Don’t skip the stock! Since we are not using any fish sauce to make this kimchi, you will need an extra something to flavor.


tutorial-6Reserve about 1/2 cup of vegetable stock. Don’t throw away the rest. Pour in ziplock bags and freeze for later use.

Now I bet you are wondering what the yellow thingy is in this photo. It is a potato. I microwaved to cook a small piece of potato.

In kimchi making, you will need a some sort of starch to help fermentation. I have introduced using rice glue or leftover cooked white  rice as a starch component. This time I will use a little bit of cooked potato. You will only need about 3 tablespoonful.


tutorial-7Here is the fruit I was talking about. It is a PERSIMMON. Very common fruit in Korea but only available during late fall and winter season.

If you go to a big Korean groceries, you will find them easily these days. If you can’t get the persimmon, substitute with an apple or a pear.

Persimmon is a very sweet and meaty fruit, which is perfect to be mingled in kimchi. No need to add sugar. You will love the flavor of kimchi with persimmon in it. Just peel and core the seed and dice into chunks.


tutorial-8In a blender, pour the reserve the stock, and add diced onion, garlic, ginger, and the persimmon.


tutorial-9Puree them until very smooth. Add a few diced fresh chilies and pulse a few times to chop them. You want to see small chili pieces.

I like to add fresh red chilies in my kimchi. It brings kimchi more refreshing taste. You can certainly omit if you don’t want to.


tutorial-11Transfer the puree in a small mixing bowl. Love, love, love the color!


tutorial-12Add Korean chili flakes and the Korean soy sauce for soup. Do you know what that is?


Korean soy sauce for soupThis is it. It is quite different than ordinary soy sauce. It is, of course, fermented soy product, but more pungent. Please, do not substitute with your Kikoman soy sauce. It is not the same.

Since it brings the pungent flavor, Koreans use it to season soups or stews, and many salad side dishes. I use it quite often in my recipes.

I think you can even substitute the fish sauce with this in many other dishes if you want to avoid fish but retain the slight pungent flavor.

BTW we call it chosun ganjang (조선간장) or gook ganjang (국간장). It should be marked as “soy sauce for soup” and you should be able to find it in many Korean groceries.


tutorial-13Mix it all up to create the scarlet beauty.


tutorial-14In a shallow bowl (I used a cookie sheet), combine cabbages and sliced green onion, and the chili mixture. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds as well.

I always start with about 2/3 of the filling first, then I add more if I need to.


tutorial-15Wear a disposable glove to protect your hand and toss everything well.

Taste! Adjust seasoning by adding a little more soy sauce for soup if needed.


tutorial-16Transfer to a container (airtight if possible) and let it sit in the room temperature for 1-2 days depends on the fermentation level you desire, then store in the fridge after that.

I like to eat freshly made kimchi on the same day I made with a bowl of rice and doenjang jjige. That is a more of genuine Korean taste bud.

I will tell you what it tastes like. It tastes like a real kimchi made with fish sauce and salted shrimps.  I am quite pleased with the result and very proud that I created something that everyone can enjoy the goodness of kimchi regardless of their diet restriction.

So how do you think? Did I bring a good news to you? If yes, let’s hooray!!!

Hope you get to try this recipe whether you are a vegan or not. This kimchi will surely please everybody.


BK-Lg signature



Vegan Kimchi

Vegan Kimchi

Vegan Kimchi


  • 2 lb Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup Korean coarse sea salt
  • 8 cup water
  • 3/4 lb pumpkin, any kind, sliced into 2-3 chunks
  • 3 dried shiitake mushroom
  • 1 large piece dried sea kelp
  • 2 tablespoon plain mashed potatoes
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 persimmon, peeled and cored (or 1/2 sweet apple or Asian pear)
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2" piece ginger, peeled
  • 3-4 fresh rec chilies, diced, optional
  • 4 tablespoon Korean chili flakes
  • 4-5 tablespoon Korean soy sauce for soup
  • 4 green onion cut into 2" slices
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds


  1. Cut off the end part of the cabbage stem and cut the cabbage into 2" slices.
  2. In a mixing bowl dissolve salt in the water. Scatter the cabbage slices in a shallow bowl and pour the salted water over and toss. Let the cabbage soak for 1 hour. turn the cabbages over and continue to soak for another 1-1.5hr. When done, the stem part of cabbage slice should be bendable without breaking. Rinse the cabbages 3 times and let them drain well. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place pumpkin, mushroom, and sea kelp in a medium sauce pot and pour water just to barely cover them. Bring them to boil and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and discard the vegetables reserving the liquid stock. Reserve 1/2 cup of stock to use, and freeze the rest of stock for later use.
  4. In a blender put potatoes, onion, persimmon, garlic, ginger and pour in the 1/2 cup of stock. Process them until smooth. Add diced fresh red chilies and pulse to chop them into small pieces.
  5. Pour the onion persimmon puree in to a small mixing bowl, add the Korean chili flakes and 4 tablespoon of Korean soy sauce for soup. Mix well.
  6. In a large shallow bowl (or use jelly roll pan) combine cabbages and green onion, add 2/3 of chili filling and sesame seeds. Wear disposable gloves on your hand and toss everything with your hand to make sure everything gets incorporated with chili filling. Add more filling if needed.
  7. Taste a piece and add more Korean soy sauce for soup to adjust seasoning. It should be slightly saltier that you hoped for.
  8. Transfer your kimchi in a airtight container and let it sit in the room temperature for 1-2 days, then store in the fridge after that. Enjoy your labor of love!

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  1. 1


    First, I am so glad that you are blogging again! Second, I am so excited that you created this recipe. I made vegan kimchi once and was so frustrated and disappointed. I can’t wait to try your version!

  2. 5

    Laila says

    This is REFRESHING. I never knew persimmon could be well blended with kimchi soh. Love this post, and Hail Holly. From Laila in Indonesia.

  3. 6

    Thomas Ballew says

    You can bet I’ll try this recipe soon! Also, I’ve wanted to try to make doenjang since I saw the wonderful Koream movie of the same name. I’m going to check your site for a vegan recipe for doenjang. If you don’t have one, maybe you will make all us vegans lucky, and write one :-) The more vegan Korean recipes, the better!

    • 7

      Holly says

      Although I am not a vegan, I like to make occasional vegan meal for the family just to avoid too much meat consumption. Using Doenjang in recipes to make vegan is great way to obtain protein and other good bacteria in the body. I will think of more recipes with doenjang to be vegan worthy. Cheers!

  4. 12

    Julie W says

    Hi Holly! Can you use a little sweet potato instead of the potato? I am on a program where I can’t have any added sugar or white potatoes.

    • 13

      Holly says

      Try with cooked white short grain rice instead. I have not tried with sweet potato, so I can’t tell you how it will turn out.

  5. 14


    Here’s a problem – I have a friend who is vegan and doesn’t care for spicy foods. Since my misson in life seems to be to feed everyone I know kimchi, how can I make this recipe into a white (baek) kimchi? Will it keep well if I omit the gochugaru? And I’d also like to add maesil syrup – can I substitute that for the persimmon? How much should I use, if so?
    Thanks! I”m not Korean, but I do have a kimchi refrigerator. How can anyone live without one? 😉

    • 15

      Holly says

      Judith, it is quite tricky to turn this recipe in to white kimchi. Mainly because we use salted shrimps in white kimchi to maintain its whiteness in color and the flavor. If you use the soy sauce, the white kimchi will turn a little darker. Maesil syrup is great to add in the recipe but you might need to add a little sugar. Maesil syrup alone can make kimchi slightly tarty. I would use 2 tablespoon of maesil syrup plus 1-2 teaspoon sugar. Try with 1 teaspoon of sugar first, taste, then adjust according to your taste. Good luck!

      • 16


        Holly, thanks! Maybe she is not going to get any kimchi for a while. I appreciate the comments on the maesil syrup – I’ve got rather a lot of it, so it will be interesting to figure out how to use it.

        • 17

          Holly says

          Add the maesil syrup in bulgogi, galbi, pork, or chicken recipe. It will tenderize the meat even better and you will love the flavor in it. I would recommend to use this syrup in any Korean dishes that requires a little sugar such as salads or any meat dishes.

  6. 19

    James says

    This looks SOOO GOOD! I can’t wait to try it.
    One question: Can I change out the shiitake mushroom for anything else in the broth?

  7. 21


    I fell in love with this kimchi recipe! I just did it after reading your blog >.<
    I tasted it and it's beautiful! (it's is fermenting now, let's see after 24hrs)
    Thank You for sharing this yummy delicious recipe!

    • 24


      Hi Jackie
      Youu can add them if you want. The stock has all the flavor melted in without overpowering the flavor of mushroom and pumpkin in the kimchi.

  8. 25

    Alessandra says

    Thank you! I love the recipe and can’t wait to use it!

    Point of order though. Kimchi is not vegan or vegetarian. Fish (sea creatures in general) are not vegetables. They are animals; therefore, not vegetarian. I am really sick of people assuming that because I’m a vegetarian and not a vegan, I eat fish. I do not eat fish (or any animal including bugs and mollusks). It is an animal. Vegetarians do not eat animals. If you eat fish, you are a pescatarian, not a vegetarian.

    This kind of attitude makes it nearly impossible for me to eat out anywhere because people think fish (and sea bugs and mollusks) are swimming broccoli. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to say I’m vegan (though I eat cheese and eggs and make no actual claim to be vegan) to make sure that people don’t put animals in my food.

    Again, love the recipe. I’ll let you know how it turns out. :)

    • 26


      Thanks for your comment, Alessandra. I understand how frustrating it must be. I am not a vegetarian nor vegan, but I try to enjoy meat-free meal once a week just to reduce meat consumption in my family’s diet. These days People are paying a full attention to food allergy of others, therefore it would be very nice to consider someone’s diet restriction and understand the do’s and don’t’s as well. Hope you get to try this Kimchi and be able to enjoy it. Please let me know how it turns out!

      • 27

        Alessandra says

        Holly, the kimchi turned out amazingly. At first I didn’t think it was enough liquid, then I packed it into the jar and it was perfect. Instead of burying it (I live in a flat), I filled a sink with cool water up to the level of the kimchi and put a towel over it. I just moved it to do the dishes then refilled the sink and put the towel back over the sealed jar again. The temperature must have been perfect because it was sooooo good. I put it in and on everything all week.

        Store bought kimchi is good, but it tastes so much better when you make it yourself and your instructions were clear and easy to follow. The pictures helped a lot. I love how Korean food is all by hand or to taste. That’s how I’ve always cooked too.

        Thank you so much! I will be making this often and for a long, long time. I have already put it in a spot of honour; the family recipe book I got from my mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother… I love this recipe that much!

    • 30


      Hi Alice, it can be kept in the fridge quite long, up to 2 month. But I recommend to consume within a month though. If too fermented, it just doesn’t taste good anymore to eat as is.

  9. 31

    Daniel says

    I may be dense, but can you tell me what Korean Coarse Sea Salt is? How is it different from regular sea salt and where can I find it?

  10. 32

    Linda says

    I have been looking at your recipes for kimchee and am so glad that you have a vegan recipe. I was wondering why the cabbage preparation is so different though from the 3 volume kimchee recipe. In the vegan one you cut the cabbage into 2 inch pieces and in the regular kimchi you just quarter it and put the the other stuff between the leaves. Just wondering why.

    • 33



      The regular (more authentic) kimchi recipe can survive for the longer storage period due to keeping the whole length of cabbage itself (which gets bundled and hold the kimchi stuffing intact together inside to keep the flavor and the texture fresh longer). Once cabbage gets chopped up, the storage life gets shorter. The authentic whole cabbage kimchi can be stored several month to a year if stored right. The chopped up cabbage kimchi can’t last that long. It will ferment faster and get mushy after 1-2 month of fermenting. Therefore You don’t want to make too much volume of easy method kimchi unless you can finish within 1-2 month. Heep this helps.

  11. 34

    Linda Morgan says

    I just made this vegan kimchee (withasian pear, did not find persimmon yet) and it is delicious. Even my picky daughter who has never liked anything with spiciness loved it. I am vegan and I have bookmarked all your kimchee recipes. I was wondering if I use the same type of broth for the other kimchee and used the soy sauce for soup would that replace the fish in the other recipes? Is there anything else I would have to add? Great recipes. I have sent my son to the store for sprite so I can make the radish kimchee later today.

    • 35


      Hi Linda
      You can substitute the Korean soy sauce for soup as a substitute for the fish sauce in any kimchi recipe. Great to hear that the vegan kimchi turned out well for you. Yeah!

  12. 36

    Dustin says

    Can you substitute the broth with vegetable broth? And I’m not vegan but wanted to avoid fish sauce, so how would chicken broth work?

    • 37


      You can try with vegetable broth. I think the chicken broth will make funny taste in kimchi. Some northern Koreans use beef in kimchi, but personally have not tried yet.

  13. 38

    Nihal says

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I will definitely try it soon! I’m just a little confused about where the potato comes into the kimchi. Do you blend it with the persimmon?

    • 39


      Hi Nihal
      Yes, you will need to blend the potato together with persimmon, onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the fresh chili (if using) at the last minute to pulse. Hope you like this kimchi. Many people have told me that they loved it. Thanks!

  14. 40


    Hi Holly,

    Thank you for a wonderful recipe. I tried this recipe and loved the result. I have made vegan kimchi before but I think this is the best one. It is because the broth and additional sweet fruit and pungent soy sauce, I think. Brilliant! I used kombu in the broth and simmered (with kabocha and dried shiitake) per your recipe. I used half of a Fuji apple. I don’t have the Korean soy sauce but I have other fermented soy sauce Thai style (replacing fish sauce) that is vegan. The result is still so yummy.

    I will look for that Korean soy sauce in the Korean market. Thank you so much!


  15. 41

    Oleander says

    Thank you so much for making this article! I have eaten kimchi from the store before, but really wanted to try making my own. I was very worried that I would do something wrong with the fermentation and accidentally poison myself! Your article gave me the confidence I needed to try, and the kimchi I made turned out amazing on the first try! I didn’t follow the recipe exactly — I like to be creative in the kitchen — but even my mother (who has never tried kimchi) liked it. I ended up making a sweet and sour soup to add the kimchi to, and that was also fantastic! I will definitely be making more in the future. Thank you again! :)

  16. 42

    Parbat Shrestha says

    This is my third time making kimchi and been using this recipe. My partner loves it and ofcourse I am glad I found this recipe.
    Good on you.


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