Top view of nabak kimchi in glass bowl on white mat

Nabak Kimchi - Spring Water Kimchi with Cabbage and Radish

Nabak Kimchi is a great mild spring water Kimchi that's simple to make, pretty to serve and is great first kimchi for kids. Only 6 ingredients needed!
Course Appetizer, Pickles, Side Dish
Cuisine Korean
Keyword banchan, easy and simple, Kimchi, mild, spring
KoreanCategory Kimchi (김치)
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Resting Time 1 day
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 32
Calories 14kcal
Author JinJoo Lee


Pickling radish and cabbage

  • 2.2 lb Korean Radish (sub Daikon OK) 2.2 lb = 1 kg
  • 2.2 lb Korean Kimchi Cabbage (or Napa Cabbage)
  • 2 Tbsp Korean sea salt (Cheonilyeom) for pickling

Kimchi liquid

  • 2 Tbsp Korean sea salt (Cheonilyeom)
  • 2 Tbsp garlic chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Korean red chili powder (gochukaru) more to taste
  • 8 cups very warm water (110℉)

Optionally add 1~2 Tbs sugar for sweeter version

    Minar (Water Dropwort) - optional, if you can't find it, just add a little bit of green onion

    • 1.5 cups minari (water dropwort) cut into 1.5 inch lengths


    Prepare RADISH

    • Peel radish and cut into discs about 1 inch thick.
    • Cut each disc into 4 equal baton shapes first and then slice across to make Nabak (Paysanne) cuts. Add cut radish into kimchi container.
    • Sprinkle 1/2 of salt on top of the radish and toss with hands to evenly mix in the salt.

    Prepare CABBAGE

    • Cut off root end of the napa cabbage to take off all the outer green leaves. Set aside the outer green leaves for regular kimchi or to make Baechu Doenjang Guk.
    • Cut off the root end again to loosen more leaves. Gather leaves of similar size, stack them up and cut it lengthwise and then across to make Nabak (Paysanne) cuts.
    • Add cut cabbages on top of the cut radish and sprinkle remaining salt. Toss with your hands again. Set aside while you work on the seasoning.

    TURN ON OVEN to 100 ℉ (37.7°C) or my oven has a PROOF function which is the same thing.


      • Fill a tea bag with red chili powder (gochukaru). Increase amount for more kick but do NOT add so much that the liquid becomes red. Nabak kimchi is supposed to have light pink color not red.
      • In a glass or metal bowl big enough to hold all the kimchi liquid, add chopped garlic and salt. Optionally add sugar - (1/2 amount of salt). *Adding sugar definitely will taste better but it doesn't make the kimchi as clean tasting and also it will sour more quickly.
      • In another bowl, make 6 cups very warm water that's about 110℉/43℃. Heat water to temp or make this by mixing about 4 cups room temp water and 2.5 cups of HOT boiling water. (This is hotter than very warm bath water but not soo hot that you will burn your hands nor cook the vegetables. When you dip your hands in it, you should feel like it's TOO HOT but it actually won't burn your hands. * Please be careful to NOT burn your hands. 
      • Quickly add the VERY WARM water to the bowl with garlic and salt. Stir quickly until salt is all dissolved. We want to do this step as quickly as possible so the water doesn't cool down too much.
      • Pour the warm salt water from above onto the kimchi container with the pickled radish and cabbages. Cover the container and put it in the oven for 24 hours. Check after about an hour and feel the temperature of the kimchi container. It should still feel nice and warm. *** This way of quickly ripening the water kimchi adds an extra zing to it.

      NEXT DAY (approx after 24 hrs)

        Prepare MINARI (Water Dropwort)

        • Rinse Minari (water dropwort) and drain. 
        • Cut root ends - the thick, usually darker colored part. Then cut Minari stalk into 1.5 inch long pieces, avoiding the leafy parts.
        • Take kimchi out from the oven. Uncover and first take out the bag of chili powder that has been soaking. 
        • Add cut minari and mix it evenly into the kimchi with a spoon.
        • Cover and put finished kimchi in the fridge. Or in your kimchi refrigerator if you have one and let it ripen for 2-3 more days.


        • Taste the kimchi. It should taste very clean and slightly sour with an awesome zing when it's perfectly ripe. If you want to add a little bit of sweet flavor, you can add a swirl of maesil syrup or a splash of sprite.


        Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Sodium: 531mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 15.4mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 0.3mg