Baechu is perhaps one of the most popular types of kimchi. It’s made from Napa cabbage and can take a long time to create (via Serious Eats). Napa cabbage is a vegetable created from years of natural crossbreeding between southern Chinese bok choi and northern Chinese turnip, according to the South China Morning Post.
To make baechu kimchi, Napa cabbage is quartered and subjected to a long soak in brine. By Serious Eats, a porridge of gochugaru (the Korean chili flakes that impart a characteristic red hue), glutinous rice flour, sugar, fish sauce and saeujeot (salted shrimp) is mixed with vegetables. Daikon radish, green onions, carrots and Asian pears are meticulously applied between each layer of cabbage leaves. The kimchi is then stored in jars and left to ferment. Due to its laborious process, baechu kimchi is often prepared at a community event called kimjang. Recognized by UNESCO as part of Korea’s intangible cultural heritage, every autumn, Korean women come together to collectively prepare large batches of kimchi that will see them through the winter.
Ideally, a two to three week fermentation period gives the baechu kimchi the right amount of sour tinge while keeping the crunchiness of the cabbage intact. The longer it ferments, the sweeter the cabbage becomes and its heat and acidity begin to mellow. At this point, cooks can use kimchi in fried rice, braises, and stews like jjigae kimchi. Writes Serious Eats, kimchi fermented for a shorter period is often eaten as a salad known as geotjeori.