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Kimchi-Style Cabbage


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Kimchi-Style Cabbage

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6 to 8 servings
5.0 6
Total: Active:
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Ingredients (16)

  • 1 (4-pound) head napa cabbage
  • 1 1/4 cups coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 (4-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced
  • 2 bunches scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small daikon radish (about 10 ounces), peeled, trimmed, and diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 large Asian pear, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 ounces rock candy, or 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Korean red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads


Some of us love fall in love with kimchi at first bite, others have to acquire a taste for the fiery Korean pickled cabbage. If your introduction is via bad kimchi, you may never go back. But when kimchi is well made from really good ingredients, it’s an exciting taste that livens all kinds of meats, soups, and stews. This recipe is not at all traditional. It’s more of a European-style, kimchi-inspired cabbage braise, made from fresh instead of pickled cabbage, with a little Asian pear for sweetness. But we didn’t hold back on the chilies and garlic, so it’s somewhat authentic in that way. It’s a terrific side dish with grilled meats or fish, or just serve it with rice or noodles.

What to buy: Sold in large crystal formations, rock candy is a hard lump sweetener used in Asian cooking, particularly to sweeten and glaze savory dishes. It is actually a blend of refined and raw sugars and honey, and it is slightly less sweet than pure sugar. You can find both yellow and clear rock sugar, sometimes called Chinese rock sugar, at Asian markets; or you can substitute the slightly less pure rock sugar sold on sticks or strings at old-time candy stores. (You will need to pulverize the sugar by hitting it with something hard, like the base of a frying pan, to remove the sugar from the string or stick onto which it has been crystallized.) You can also find rock sugar online. A traditional ingredient in kimchi, red flecks of Korean crushed red peppers contribute a lot of flavor and a moderate level of spice. The pepper is usually sold in bags at well-stocked Asian groceries or Korean markets.


  1. 1Wash the cabbage and drain. Trim off the very bottom of the cabbage, leaving enough of the root end intact to hold the head together. Carefully separate the leaves without breaking them from the root, and sprinkle 1 cup of the salt in between and over them. Tightly press and reshape the cabbage and place it in a nonreactive container, such as a Pyrex dish. Dissolve the remaining 1/4 cup salt in 6 cups water and pour over the cabbage. Let the cabbage sit for 3 hours, giving it a quarter turn every 15 minutes. Rinse for several minutes under cold running water. Gently squeeze out any excess water.
  2. 2Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F.
  3. 3In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, gingerroot, and jalapeño pepper and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Lay the cabbage on its side in the pot. Add 1 cup water and the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven.
  4. 4Braise for 2 1/2 hours. Turn the cabbage over, baste with the pan juices, and continue to braise for 2 1/2 hours more.
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