Cooking with Nash: Vegan Kimchi Two Ways

Fermented cabbage in chili sauce, also known as Kimchi, is a fermented favorite over here at BFNJ. We wanted to offer a kimchi recipe in a slightly less traditional way. Traditionally infused with fish sauce, we decided to make our own veganized version of Kimchi. In this recipe we give the user two options.

First, we decided to use regular Napa cabbage. We cut 1-2 inch squares for a slightly quicker fermentation period. We let our ingredients ferment for 4 weeks before refrigeration.

For the second option we wanted to experiment with ingredients that can withstand a longer fermentation period than usual. We substituted Napa cabbage for radishes. We wanted to understand the textural appeal to a product that takes longer to break down during the fermentation process. We medium diced the radishes and let them ferment for 5 weeks before refrigeration.

It is important to burp your mixture daily to release gasses.

Our Observations:

Appearance: You’ll noticed the radish starts to become “clearer” from the outside about a week into fermentation as it begins to release its natural moisture. The cabbage kimchi became slightly darker.

Color: After about 2 weeks you should notice that both kimchi’s begin taking on the chili paste deep red hue.

Smell: Every day smell increases with different aromas. By the second week the spicy and sour smell comes out and its wonderful.

Taste: The first time we tasted both was a week in. The cabbage was fizzy due to gasses inside the jars. The spice notes were relevant and not too salty. The radish was still crunchy and not as fizzy as the cabbage. We obviously wanted both to go longer to break down more to intensify the natural umami taste.


*Substitute either cabbage or radish for what you’d like!

Napa Cabbage, 1 head

Radish, daikon, 1, depending on size

Scallions, 4, sliced 2 inch long bias

Vegan Fish Sauce

Tamari, 2tbsp (can use soy sauce if your not GF)

Sugar, 2 tbsp

Orange, squeezed juice, 2 oz

1/4 c warm water

Mushrooms, your favorite pre-roasted, 2 oz

Chili puree

Garlic, 5-6 cloves

Ginger, Peeled, 3 tbsp

White Onion, 1

Chili flakes, 1/4 Cup

Chili paste 2 tbsp


CLEAN! First step for proper fermentation is cleanliness! Make sure to clean and sanitize all equipment and tools used before to prevent the growth of bad bacteria.

PROCESS YOUR VEGGIES! I began by washing my Napa cabbage and tearing off the outer leaves. Once air dried after a couple minutes, I sliced cabbage in half length wise, and in half length wise, again. From there I sliced 2 inch pieces until I reached the core. Place cabbage in flat containers and sprinkle with about 5-6 tbsp of salt and massage. Place plastic wrap on top with some of your heaviest books or weights. This technique will pull out the natural moisture inside of the cabbage so you will begin to see it “sweat”.

Next, peel your radish and slice into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on flat container and sprinkle with 5-6 tbsp of salt, making sure to evenly coat your radish. Set your cabbage and radish aside.

VEGAN FISH SAUCE! Once your veggies are processed you will want to work on your vegan fish sauce. Add all of your ingredients to a sauce-pot. Bring your mixture to a quick boil and stir to make sure your sugar is dissolved. Slightly reducing your mixture will strengthen the taste of your vegan fish sauce, we highly recommend this! Once your desired flavor is achieved, strain and cool your “fish” sauce.

CHILI PUREE! 15 minutes after initially salting your cabbage, give it a toss and continue pressing. Next, I began my chili puree. Peel and quarter onion, peel and smash garlic, and peel ginger with a back of a spoon. Place onion and red pepper products in food processor. After 30 seconds, add garlic and ginger. Pulse until fine.

CANNING! Bring wide pot of water to a boil. Add your cleaned mason jars and lids into boiling water for 5 minutes. This will ensure that your jars are clean and bacteria free!

After “sweating” your cabbage for 30 minutes, dry out on a sheet tray. Do the same with radishes and then slice your scallions. Combine your cabbage, scallions, 1/2 of vegan fish sauce and 1/2 of the chili paste. Massage and press tightly into clean, dry mason jars. Punching down cabbage. Using remaining fish sauce and chili paste, do the same with the radishes.

Note: You can let this ferment go shorter or longer than we suggested. The longer it goes, the less gas it will eventually produce. Elongating the fermentation process will age your kimchi and bring out different flavors and funk that you can enjoy. If you’re looking to have this for health benefits, we suggest 5-7 weeks to increase natural probiotics.

Note 2: At 5 weeks I slowed down the fermentation to almost standstill by simply placing in refrigerator. The crunch was still there in both, and I didn’t’ mind. The first bunch Is burst of tang followed directly by spicy heat. Then folding into bright fresh lemon zest and minced garlic, taste. I’m very happy with how this came out and can’t wait to continue to savor the delicatable bounty of these very nice radish and cabbage.

Enjoy my take on Vegan Kimchi!

Recipe by:

Nash Reba


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