Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad (Fresh Kimchi)

Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad by SeasonWithSpice.com

When I think of kimchi, I think of…India. 

While kimchi does sound as if it came from a place called Kochi, you wouldn’t smell a trace of the quintessential Korean dish anywhere in this spice entrepĂ´t, or anywhere along the Malabar Coast of Southwest India.  Instead, you would smell the aromas of black peppercorns, turmeric, green cardamom, coriander, red chilies, and endless other spices throughout the historic port city.  But kimchi?  Never. 

That is until you walked into my apartment in Kochi and opened my fridge to find not much else other than 40lbs of kimchi, sealed in plastic bags. The pungent, spicy cabbage, fermented to perfection, and ready to eat at anytime of the day or night. 

Not what I expected to my see in the kitchen when I had moved to India, but I was happy to be introduced to the addicting side dish by my South Korean roommate – a guy who somehow found enough space in his suitcase…to bring a few shirts along too. 

Just one suitcase of spicy cabbage to forever link Kimchi to Kochi.

Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad recipe by SeasonWithSpice.com

There’s nothing like the fermentation process of kimchi when traveling in a suitcase halfway across the world.  That aging process – wherever it takes place – is essential for making an excellent, sourish-flavored kimchi. 

But if you’re impatient like me, you don’t always have to wait.  There is a Korean dish for fresh kimchi called Baechu Geotjeori.

making napa cabbage salad

The traditional method for fresh kimchi consists of a soaking process in salt.  But we don’t need more salt in our meal, and we’re in a hurry here – it’s almost dinner and the family’s hungry – so let’s skip that step and get straight to making this delicious Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad. 

We need the basics – napa cabbage, garlic, scallions, soy sauce, sugar (or honey), sesame oil, and a few spices, like Korean chili flakes and sesame seeds.  I opted for our versatile Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning to add some extra kick to the salad.

Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning available at SeasonWithSpice.com

Spicy korean chili dressing by SeasonWithSpice.com

If you want to make the salad more substantial, add shredded carrots, daikon, or cucumber.  The base flavor of our Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning will work well with a variety of veggies. 

This Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad (Fresh Kimchi) is spicy, sweet, salty, peppery, and refreshing.  Enjoy in a rice bowl with bulgogi (Korean grilled marinated beef), and drink it down with a cold beer.

Fresh Kimchi aka Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad by SeasonWithSpice.com

buy japanese seven spice shichimi togarashi, korean chili flakes, spicy korean chili seasoning available at season with spice asian spice shop

Spicy Korean Napa Cabbage Salad (Fresh Kimchi)
by Season with Spice

4-6 leaves of napa cabbage - sliced thinly or shredded
4-5 cloves of garlic - minced
2-3 scallions – finely chopped

1.5 tbsp to 2 tbsp Season with Spice’s Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning
1 1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey, or more to taste
2 tsp apricot preserves (optional, but this adds a lot of flavors)
1 tsp good quality fish sauce (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Squeeze of lemon juice

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the Spicy Korean Chili Seasoning, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar / rice vinegar, apricot jam, fish sauce (if using), toasted sesame oil and fresh lemon juice.
2. Add the sliced cabbage, garlic, and scallions. Toss to combine everything together. Taste and adjust any seasoning if you wish. Let sit for 5 -10 minutes in refrigerator before serving.