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Easy Vegan Kimchi

An easy and healthy vegan kimchi made with foraged South African ingredients. Make it plain, or spice it up with spekboom and pineapple!

easy foraged vegan kimchi recipe

I follow Maangchi who is a great source of inspiration for authentic Korean cooking. Her Chaesik Kimchi inspired my own version. Mine was adapted to add more carrots as I couldn’t get daikon, and I added local flavourings. Play with your food guys! It’s the best. I highly recommend checking out her blog if you want to learn a bit more about Korean cuisine. Her authentic Napa cabbage Kimchi is a total winner.

So, what is kimchi anyway? 

Kimchi is a delicious traditional South Korean condiment, usually made with napa cabbage, daikon radish and other root vegetables. I’ve added a special South African twist to mine by adding buchu and Spekboom to my cabbage mix.

  • Buchu is a South African indigenous herb with a subtle blackcurrant flavour, and goes very well with kimchi; adding a lovely herbaceous note. 
  • Spekboom is a hardy, green-leaved succulent found all over South Africa. I find adding a handful of spekboom leaves to the kimchi adds a delicious lemony flavour.

If you liked this recipe, make sure to try some of my other pickles and sauces, such as my Pantry Heroes.

To cook along us click here, and if you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Happy cooking!

easy foraged vegan kimchi recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make kimchi using radishes?

Feel free to experiment with any crisp root veggies you have on hand! Radishes of any kind will work great in kimchi, daikon is traditionally used and makes delicious kimchi.

Can I make this without gochugaru/Korean red pepper?

Unfortunately, the flavour of the gochugaru is an essential component in creating the distinctive kimchi flavour. If you aren’t sure where your local Asian supermarket is, make sure to check out Maangchi’s helpful international list of local Asian/Korean supermarkets! 

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easy foraged vegan kimchi recipe

Easy Vegan Kimchi

  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Yield: 1-2 Jars
  • Diet: Vegan


Makes 1-2 500ml jars. (1 1/2 jars if you make my plain kimchi, and 2 if you add the pineapple or spekboom)


  • 450g Chinese cabbage
  • 3 Tbsp sea salt
  • 140g julienne carrot
  • 2 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
  • 1/2 cup veg stock/vegan “fish” stock
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/3 cup gochugaru/Korean red pepper flakes

Flavouring option 1

  • 1 cup picked spekboom leaves
  • 2 Tbsp natural sea salt or salt without additives

Flavouring option 2

  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 2 sprigs buchu/1 buchu teabag


  1. Take the cabbage and cut in half, then into quarters. Cut the quarters into even chunks, place into a bowl and salt them well – for every 150g cabbage add a tablespoon of salt. I used 3 tablespoons, as I had 450g.
  2. Lightly toss the cabbage and salt together and leave for two hours.
  3. Fill the bowl with water and lightly agitate the leaves with your fingers to wash away the salt and any dirt that may have been on the leaves.
  4. Lift the cabbage up out of the bowl and place it in the colander to drain in batches, rather than pouring it out, as this may reintroduce dirt into your clean cabbage.
  5. Add the stock and rice flour to a pot, and cook until thickened to a paste.
  6. Add the paste to a food processor along with garlic, ginger, shallots and chilli flakes. Blitz until a fine puree is formed.
  7. Mix the paste with the salted and rinsed cabbage, carrots, and spring onions.
  8. Massage the paste into the veg until fully coated.
  9. At this stage, you can add your prepared buchu and spekboom, as per the instructions below, or finish the kimchi.

Plain flavour

  1. Pack the kimchi into jars.
  2. Using a spoon or cocktail muddler, press down on the veggies until well compacted.
  3. Ferment outside of the fridge until it tastes slightly sour. This can take 2-6 days.
  4. Once fermented, place in the fridge and enjoy.

Buchu and pineapple

  1. Add the pineapple into the kimchi mixture. Divide the mixture between two jars and add either a sprig of fresh buchu to each jar, or a buchu tea bag.
  2. Using a spoon or cocktail muddler, press down on the veggies until well compacted.
  3. Ferment outside of the fridge until it tastes slightly sour. This can take 2-4 days.
  4. Once fermented, remove the buchu sprig/teabags as they should have imparted enough flavour, then place the jars in the fridge and enjoy.


  1. Salt the cleaned spekboom and leave for 2 hours. Add the spekboom into your kimchi mixture. Divide the mixture between two jars.
  2. Using a spoon or cocktail muddler, press down on the veggies until well compacted.
  3. Ferment outside of the fridge until it tastes slightly sour. This can take 2-6 days. Once fermented, place the jars in the fridge and enjoy.
  • Category: Pickles
  • Method: Ferment
  • Cuisine: Korean-inspired


  • Serving Size: 1 Jar
  • Calories: 168.65kcal
  • Sugar: 10.78g
  • Sodium: 8761.4mg
  • Fat: 3.11g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.61g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1.9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 35.34g
  • Fiber: 8.69g
  • Protein: 6.07g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: Easy Vegan Kimchi

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