Sweet & Spicy Vegan Kimchi

The buzz about fermented foods and their probiotic properties is no secret. The spotlight shines brighter as more and more foodies learn about their inherent health benefits. The new trend — fermented everything — is creating awareness about what we are actually bringing in our bodies and how it impacts our overall health.


Inspired by this new trend, today’s recipe highlights a personal love of mine: kimchi. Traditionally, it is made with fish sauce. But, nothing is ever traditional in the makings of my recipes so we’re substituting in pineapple juice and apple sauce to create this vegan version. If you like kimchi, you have to try this recipe that is quite easy to make even thought it takes longer than most of my recipes.


For the cabbage:
  • 1 head napa cabbage, well rinsed
  • Sea salt
For the vegan fish sauce:
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon cane sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup warm water

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup garlic cloves
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili powder

For the vegetables:

  • 2 whole carrots, finely chopped or grated into matchsticks
  • 6 green onions, roughly chopped


  1. Thoroughly wash your hands and all utensils, containers and surfaces as you prepare your kimchi in order to prevent introducing bad bacteria and disrupting the fermentation process.
  2. Quarter your well-rinsed and dried cabbage and carefully remove the bottom core with a knife.
  3. Place your cabbage in a large mixing bowl and pack a generous amount of sea salt in between each of the leaves. Do so by lifting or removing each individual leaf and sprinkling with sea salt. Repeat until all leaves have been salted. Then press down and let rest for 30 to 45 minutes. This breaks down the cabbage and draws out moisture, priming it for the fermentation process.
  4. While your cabbage rests, prepare your vegan fish sauce by adding all ingredients in a  mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  5. Next prepare your chili sauce by adding fresh ginger, garlic, onion and chili powder in a blender. Taste and adjust flavor as needed.
  6. Add vegan fish sauce to this blended mixture and pulse to combine. Set aside.
  7. When the cabbage is rested. Wash your hands and turn each section of cabbage over so its facing the opposite direction. Then pack down with your hands to compress. You’ll repeat this process 2 more times, waiting 30 minutes in between and washing your hands before each time.
  8. While waiting, sterilize your storage containers, dry and set aside. I used mason jars.
  9. Once you have flipped your cabbage 2 to 3 times, it should be tender and shrunken down. Rinse each leaf with cold water and remove excess salt. Then place them on absorbent clean paper towels and pat dry. Separate the cabbage leaves at this time so they’re easier to work with.
  10. In a mixing bowl, add the dried cabbage, carrots, green onions, and sauce. Begin coating each leaf with the sauce. If you have disposable gloves, I recommend using them at this time as the mixture can get messy and irritate sensitive hands.
  11. Once the cabbage is thoroughly coated with sauce, wash hands and get your sterilized storage containers.
  12. Pack the coated cabbage leaves in the container, making sure there is as little air as possible between leaves. Continue until all the cabbage is packed in, then press down firmly to remove any air. Top with clean, sterilized lid, and set the containers in a cool dark place (such as a kitchen cabinet or countertop, not refrigerator) to ferment.
  13. Allow the kimchi to ferment for 3 to 5 days, then transfer to the refrigerator for 1 week. The longer you ferment, the tangier and intense the flavor will be but I recommend fermenting for 1 to 2 weeks before consuming.
  14. Kimchi will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 weeks, and even months. Enjoy!

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