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Korean Fresh Kimchi Recipe (Baechu Geotjeori)

by Emily
An overhead shot of fresh kimchi next to grilled pork belly

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One of my favorite side dishes to eat with Korean barbecue is geotjeori! Crispy and fresh, it always tastes delicious with samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly).

In the past, I wrote an article for sangchu geotjeori, otherwise known as fresh lettuce kimchi. This time, I am sharing a recipe for baechu geotjeori, otherwise known as fresh cabbage kimchi! I love this small-batch recipe because it tastes so light and refreshing. It is perfect with fatty meat dishes! While kimchi typically takes days and days to make and ferment, this recipe takes no more than 3 hours (30 minutes of active cooking)! 

While geotjeori recipes often include sugar, honey, or sweet syrup, this recipe is sweetened naturally by using an Asian pear. Excitingly, as a result, this recipe is naturally sugar-free! It is also Whole30 for anyone following the diet. 

For more napa cabbage recipes, try making baechu jeon (Korean cabbage pancakes)!

A plate of fresh kimchi with samgyeopsal. Further side dishes sit behind.
Geotjeori Tastes Delicious With Samgyeopsal!

What Is Geotjeori?

‘Geotjeori’ (겉절이) is a type of kimchi made fresh without fermentation. In English ‘geot’ (겉) translate to ‘out’ or ‘outer.’ Then, ‘jeori’ (절이) translates and refers to ‘something salted or pickled.’ 

In other words, for geotjeori, you salt and pickle the outer layer of the vegetable rather than letting it penetrate and ferment over an extended period. 

Baechu Geotjeori Note: Like our sangchu geotjeori recipe, people make this side dish to eat with rice and other less salty dishes (such as samgyeopsal). As a result of the quick pickling process, this dish is a bit salty. I do not recommend serving this as a main salad without rice. 

A side closeup shot of Korean barbecue. Baechu geotjeori sits next to the samgyeopsal.
YUM! Samgyeopsal!

Geotjeori vs Kimchi:

As I stated above, geotjeori and kimchi are very similar. On one hand, geotjeori refers to a particular type of kimchi dish made fresh without fermentation. On the other hand, when people refer to kimchi, they refer to the style of dish made by fermenting the ingredients over time. 

Baechu Geotjeori (Fresh Kimchi) Tips & Tricks:

Now that we learned about geotjeori, we wanted to give some tips & tricks to help you make this baechu geotjeori recipe! Let us know if these tips help you prepare this recipe at home! If you have any questions, leave a comment below or email us at [email protected].

Check out the tips below!

-Soak the Cabbage In Salt Water (2-Methods):

Method 1: Using a large bowl, combine 1 cup of water with 3 TBSP of water. Stir the mixture until the salt dissolves into the water. Then, add the cut and washed cabbage to the bowl. Finally, mix and combine the water with the cabbage. Every 30 minutes, remix the cabbage and salted water. Make sure the cabbage on the top goes to the bottom and vice versa. You will notice the cabbage on the bottom gets more and more wilted. You want it to wilt evenly. 

An overhead shot of cabbage sitting into a glass bowl.
Soaking Via the Bowl Method

Method 2: Using a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, combine 1 cup of water with 3 TBSP of salt. Then, close the bag and shake it until the salt dissolves. Then, add the cut and washed cabbage to the Ziplock bag. Shake the bag to soak the cabbage in the salted water. Every 15 to 30 minutes, shake and flip the bag to soak the cabbage. Once again, you want to evenly soak all the cabbage. 

A side shot of cabbage in a Ziplock bag inside a wooden bowl.
Soaking Via the Ziplock Method.

-How to Know the Cabbage Is Ready:

Typically, I recommend soaking the cabbage for approximately 2 hours. This process may take a little less or a little more time. 

To know the cabbage is ready, take a piece of the cabbage with a good amount of the white fibrous center. Then, bend the piece in half. If the white part snaps in half, you need to soak it more. If it bends when pressed together, your cabbage is ready!

Once ready, you just need to wash off all the salt!

-Squeeze the Wilted Cabbage:

After you finished soaking the cabbage and washing the salt off, squeeze the cabbage to remove all excess water before putting it into a new bowl. 

Removing the excess water allows the sauce to stick to the cabbage more easily. Otherwise, your fresh kimchi will be overly liquidy. 

-Use Your Hands to Mix the Fresh Kimchi Sauce: 

While unnecessary, using your hands allows you to evenly distribute the sauce over the entirety of the cabbage leaves, including the nooks and crannies. Completely coating and needing in the sauce is an important part of making kimchi and geotjeori. In Korea, they even have the saying: ‘son-mat’ (손맛), which literally translates to ‘hand taste.’ Learn about ‘hand taste’ and how it affects the flavor of food in this article

A side shot of my hand mixing in the bright red sauce and cabbage
Mix the Cabbage and Sauce Well!!

Note: If you do not want to get sauce on your hands, I recommend buying biodegradable food prep gloves. Also, people in Korea buy reusable gloves that they use solely to make kimchi! 

A side shot of my hand mixing in the bright red sauce and cabbage

Fresh Kimchi Frequently Asked Questions:

Now that we learned some tips & tricks for making this recipe, we want to answer some questions you may have about fresh kimchi! If we do not answer your question, feel free to leave a comment in the section below or email us at [email protected]

Can I Make This Recipe in Advance?

You should make fresh kimchi right before serving. As geotjeori sits, it wilts more and more until it becomes soggy. Freshly made baechu geotjeori is still crispy and crunchy! 

How Should I Store the Leftovers? 

A side shot of fresh kimchi. The fresh kimchi sits next to grilled pork belly.
Crunchy and Fresh Baechu Geotjeori.

To store the leftovers, place the baechu geotjeori in an airtight container. Then, place it into the refrigerator. As I mentioned above, leftover geotjeori will become soggy over time. Eat it quickly so it still has a crunchy texture. That being said, I still enjoy it even after it is soggy! Eat within a few days. 

Does This Fresh Kimchi Recipe Contain Any Allergens? (Gluten, Soy, Etc.)

For the most part, this recipe does not contain major allergens. It does not contain any tree nuts, peanuts, gluten, wheat, soy, milk, and/or eggs. 

Unfortunately, this recipe does contain fish sauce. For those with fish or shellfish allergies, this recipe is not for you. 

Where Can I Buy the Ingredients?

You can shop for some of the ingredients, such as green onions, garlic, and salt, in a well-stocked grocery store. That being said, some of the other ingredients might be more difficult to find.

To find a Korean pear (also known as Asian pear), napa cabbage, gochugaru, and fish sauce, you may need to shop at your local Asian grocery store. You can also order some of these ingredients online!

An overhead shot of fresh kimchi next to pork belly.

We Hope You Enjoyed Learning How to Make Baechu Geotjeori!

In the end, I hope you enjoyed learning how to make this baechu geotjeori (fresh kimchi) recipe! If so, let me know in the comment section! 

If you would like to read more about cooking, you can find recipes as well as further Korean ingredient articles on our blog. I listed some of our favorite Carving A Journey Korean recipes below! For reference, many recipes are influenced by my family’s blended Korean and Southern heritage.

Korean Ingredient Articles: 

Further Carving A Journey Korean Recipes:

If you have any questions or comments, you can also email us at [email protected].

And, finally, we would love to hear from you through our social media as well! You can follow us at @carvingajourney on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. I also started a vlog Youtube channel! Or, if you would like more articles like these, you can subscribe to my blog by joining the mailing list. Let me know if you make this fresh kimchi dish! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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Korean Fresh Kimchi Recipe (Baechu Geotjeori)

Recipe by Emily
5.0 from 2 votes
Course: Korean Recipes, Recipes, Side DishesCuisine: KoreanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cabbage Soaking Time




  • 1 Cup Water

  • 3 TBSP Salt

  • 1 Ib Napa Cabbage

  • 3 Green Onions, Sliced Into 2-Inch Pieces

  • 1/2 Asian Pear, Grated

  • 1 Oz (28g) Gochugaru

  • 1 Oz (28g) Fish Sauce

  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Grated or Finely Chopped


  • In a bowl or Ziploc bag combine the water and salt. Stir or shake until the salt dissolves into the water.
  • Next, prepare the cabbage. To cut the cabbage, start by slicing down the center spine of the leaf. Then, cut each side diagonally into two or three pieces.
  • Wash the cabbage. Then, place it into the bowl or Ziploc bag with the salted water. Completely mix the cabbage. That way, you coat it in the water mixture. Then, set it aside. Toss every 30 minutes.
  • While the cabbage soaks, mix the grated Asian pear, gochugaru, fish sauce, and grated garlic. Once combined, set the mixture into the refrigerator until it is time to toss with the cabbage.
  • After two hours, check the cabbage. If you bend the cabbage and it snaps, it is not ready. If you bend the cabbage, and it doesn’t snap in half, your cabbage is ready! Next, dump out the salted water. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly to remove the excess salt. Then, squeeze the cabbage to remove excess liquid. This allows the sauce to stick onto the cabbage and keeps the fresh kimchi from getting soupy.
  • Once you squeeze out the excess water, transfer it to a new bowl. Then, add in the sliced green onions. Finally, using your hands, combine the red gochugaru based sauce and the cabbage. Mix until all the cabbage is covered completely.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

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