Pink Water Kimchi (Nabak Kimchi) #SundaySupper

Nabak Kimchi | www.kimchimom.comThe first day of Spring is March 20th. The Sunday Supper crew is celebrating the Spring season with recipes reflecting the time of year whether it is St. Patrick’s day, green foods, or spring inspired. This event is hosted by Amber of Mama’s Blissful Bites. Thanks Amber!


In Korea, you’ll see more varieties of kimchi during the spring and summer seasons. So after subsisting on the fiery red cabbage kimchi made during kimjang (the traditional process of making and preserving kimchi in the fall for the long winter), nabak kimchi is a refreshing side dish that signals the arrival of spring at the dinner table.

In my “research”, I’ve read that nabak refers to the  thin tile-shape of the radish. And this kimchi also has the distinctive light red or pink brine reflecting the “essence” of the red pepper powder. Many times, the brine itself is consumed. Oftentimes, it’s the best part. I love slurping a couple of spoonfuls as my chaser to bites of bulgogi (Korean grilled beef) and scoops of steamy rice. It’s so 시원해요 (si-won-hae-yo) or REFRESHING! If you aren’t familiar with kimchi, nabak kimchi may be best for the uninitiated. It is very, very mild and very easy to make.

Notes: I call for leaves from the heart of the cabbage which just means the leaves closer to the core. They will be more tender than the outer leaves. You will need a piece of fine cheesecloth or muslin to create a pouch for the kochugaru (red pepper powder). And you may need 2 or 3 layers of cheesecloth so that red pepper flakes do not escape through the loose weave! And always, always, always serve this kimchi chilled and in small glass bowls for each diner at the dinner table.

Nabak Kimchi |

Nabak Kimchi

8 ounces napa cabbage leaves from the heart of the cabbage
8 ounces daikon or mu (Korean radish)
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
3 stalks green onions, cut in 2-inch sections and halved lengthwise
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 ounce of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 – 1 ounce of red pepper (Korean chili pepper, bell pepper or Anaheim), julienned to 2-inch lengths

4 cups water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoon kochugaru (Korean red pepper powder, coarse)

Fine cheesecloth or muslin, a 6-inch by 6-inch piece works.
1 half-gallon glass jar with sealable cap

1 – The radish should be cut into 1/8-inch thick slices. Cut and trim the cabbage leaves and radish into approximately 1-inch by 1-inch pieces. (Mine were more like 1-inch by 2-inch.)


2 – In a large bowl, toss the cabbage and radish with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3 – In the meantime, in another large bowl, mix the ingredients for the brine – water, salt, sugar – until the salt and the sugar are dissolved. The brine should taste refreshing like the sea breeze with a touch of salt, and not like the briny murky ocean water.

4 – With the cheesecloth or muslin, place the kochugaru in the center of the cloth. Secure and tie up the ends with twine so that you have a pouch.


5 – So here’s how you turn the water into pink water…take the pouch of kochugaru and gently swirl it through the brine. This may take some time (about 15 minutes) depending on how rich you want the color of the water. You can also build a little contraption with a chopstick – tie the pouch to the chopstick and rest the chopstick on the edges of the bowl to allow the pepper to steep in the brine. Here’s my little set up:




…and after.

6 – Drain the cabbage and radish in a strainer or colander. DO NOT RINSE. Return the cabbage and radish to the bowl. Mix in the green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper. Give the mixture a little toss.


7 – Place the vegetable mixture in a clean half-gallon glass jar. Pour the pinky brine into the jar. Place the cap on the jar.


8 – Place the jar on a large plate (in case of overflow) and let the kimchi sit at room temperature for 1-2 days. After that, refrigerate it.


9 – The kimchi should be good for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. Just note that towards the end of 2 weeks, the kimchi will be a little more tangy and the cabbage and radish will lose its crispity crunchiness.

Nabak Kimchi |


What else is the Sunday Supper crew bringing to the table to celebrate all that is green and springy? Check out the menu below and see!


Apps, Bread, Salads, Soups and Dressings:

Main and Sides:



Please be sure you join us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper. We’ll be meeting up at 7:00 p.m. EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat where we’ll talk about our favorite Springtime recipes!

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, or you can follow us throughTweetChat!

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