My Favorite Kimchi: Kaenip Kimchi

Every now and then I wonder why I bother with this blog and Facebook page. The food blogging event I attended a couple of weekends ago has revived the passion and desire, but what can I do with it if I don’t have the time and space?

My parents visited us recently. I was especially excited for the visit not only because an extra pair of hands is always welcome with the kids, but because I’ve been waiting for over a year to make kaenip kimchi! My parents (actually my dad’s domain) have a bountiful garden at home. They started growing kaenip in their garden over 10 years ago. Sure I could’ve gone to HMart and bought a small stack of kaenip for an outrageous price, but I really wanted to grow my own. My parents mailed me some seeds and so was the beginning of my container garden. Yes, I have a whole yard, but since I didn’t really inherit my dad’s green thumbs and with my history of agri-failures, I am starting small this time. Baby steps.

My plants were still a bit small (about 2 feet tall), but I couldn’t wait any longer to get my hands on them. If you haven’t heard of kaenip or tasted them, it is better known as perilla. It’s a much more fragrant and bitter green than its cousin, shiso. Kaenip can be eaten raw or cooked – they are an awesome accent to ssam.

And of course when my parents visit, my mom takes over the kitchen and makes sure everyone is well-fed. To say that I love their visits is an understatement! We ate delicious and healthy Korean food the entire week. I took pictures of every meal for inspiration so that I could attempt to recreate these meals later on. With each day and every meal, my desire and motivation to cook was eventually fully restored. My parents are why I have this blog. Their lives are an inspiration to me.

I love my mom’s recipe for kaenip kimchi…salty, tangy, and spicy…very strong and bold. The store-bought versions are always a bit too sweet for me and I feel the sweetness sort of mutes the strong flavors. I could only make a small batch this time around. It barely lasted a week.

Kaenip Kimchi

Note: Kaenip can be found at your local Korean grocery store.

2-3 ounces kaenip or perilla leaves
4 Tablespoons kochugaru (red pepper powder, coarse texture)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Tablespoons fish sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
3 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons minced ginger
About 4 Tablespoons water

1 – Rinse the leaves thoroughly under cool running water.

2 – Let drain.

3 – Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add enough water to make the sauce spreadable, but not watery. It should yield about 3/4 cup.

3 – On a plate, stack 3-4 leaves. Hold stems against the plate (so the leaves don’t move) and spread about a spoonful of sauce on the leaves to cover the entire surface of the leaf.

4 – Stack another 3-4 leaves on top and spread sauce on top to cover. Repeat.

5 – Alternate the stack so the stems are not all on one side.

6 – If there is any remaining sauce, pour the the rest on top of the stack.

7 – Carefully transfer the stack to a clean storage container. Press.

8 – Let sit at room temperature overnight.

9 – The kimchi should be ready to eat the next day!




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  • Jun Belen

    Beautiful post. Love the step-by-step photographs. Love the bold contrast of colors. And I’m sure the flavors are as bold as the colors.

  • Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet

    GORGEOUS Amy….seriously. I was ready to just jump in there and take a forkful! Beautiful photographs darlin!!


  • Christy @ The Daily Dish

    I love step-by-step posts and this could not be prettier. Thanks for sharing! Thanks also for bringing back great memories of a dear HS friend. I used to enjoy the best Korean food at her house. You’ve got my mouth watering!

    • AMY

      Thanks! So glad you like it! I hope you try some of the recipes!

  • Sommer J

    Looks amazing!!! I am sorry I missed this!!! Even more motivated to find some perilla! I love Frankfurt (and apparently exclamation points hehe) so it will be a fun and exciting trip! Thanks for the link to Korean grocers in Germany as well 😀

    • AMY

      Good luck and let me know how the shopping trip goes!

  • Guillaume

    Looks delicious…! Can we do it with purple perilla leaves??

    • AMY

      I’ve never had the purple perilla leave, but give it a try!

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  • esther julee

    I love making this type of kimchi too! :) although i had no idea it was called a type of kimchi. i’m okay with even eating kaenip with rice and gochujang. just love that stuff haha

    • kimchi_mom

      I just got a bunch of kaenip and am ready to make a batch this week!