September 10, 2020

In his recent cookbook, LA Son, Chef Roy Choi recounts both his childhood in Southern California and his parents’ ties to Korean culture that made him the badass chef he is now. The first recipe he includes is one for kimchi—the basis for all meals, snacks, and eats in between, he adds. It’s versatile and it’s good on just about all foods from hot dogs to a bowl of hot rice. It’s for this reason that Chef Choi emphasizes the importance of knowing how to make a good homemade kimchi. Some of these ingredients might not be hiding in all our pantries, but once gotten, are usable in tons of Korean and Southasian recipes and are terrific to have on hand! Once we started making this stuff, we just couldn’t stop! Let’s get fermenting, people!

Ingredients (Paste):

1 cup kochukaru

1 cup peeled onion

½ cup water

15 garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup peeled and chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 tablespoons natural rice vinegar (not seasoned)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Ingredients (Vegetables):

4 cups water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 large Local Roots napa cabbage 

½ bunch fresh chives, cut into 1-inch batons

½ cup jarred oysters

1 tablespoon salted baby shrimp


  1. Put all the ingredients for the paste in a blender, puree, and set aside.
  2. In a bowl large enough to hold the cabbage, mix the water with the salt. Split the cabbage in half and soak in the salted water for 2 to 3 hours at room temperature.
  3. Drain the cabbage. Mix ½ cup of the paste, the chives, oysters, and salted shrimp and layer between the leaves of the cabbage. Coat the exterior of the cabbage with the remaining paste.
  4. Stuff the cabbage into a gallon-size glass pickle jar and seal tightly. If it doesn’t fit, you can cut the cabbage in half again. 
  5. Keep the jar at room temperature for 2 days, then put it in the refrigerator. It will be ready to eat in about 2 weeks and be kept refrigerated indefinitely. 

Recipe by Chef Roy Choi, Photo by Rick Poon

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