Authentic Vietnamese Kimchi With No Vinegar Recipe

A wee-while ago in my backpacking days I visited a place called Danang in Vietnam. Whilst there I was lucky to eat some of the most delicious Kimchi I have ever tried. 


It tastes better than it looks 🙂

Vietnamese Kimchi is similar to the traditional South Korean Kimchi but does have some differences. (explained below)

Every time I make this Vietnamese Kimchi it takes back to my younger days roaming around Vietnam and trying amazing new foods. 

You're going to love it!


Usually I would ferment everything inside a mason jar but this time I decided to just use the plastic container that was holding the paste. There was still quite a lot of sauce inside that I couldn't get out and it was a good size since I didn't use a lot of Napa cabbage.



Vietnamese Kimchi

Alicia Harper (Nutritionist)
This traditional fermented vietnamese kimchi is made without vinegar allowing you to get full use of the probiotic benefits.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 d
Total Time 2 d 30 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine vietnamese
Servings 2


  • plastic container
  • bowl
  • spoon


  • 0.5 lbs Napa Cabbage You can adjust the final amount based on your paste.
  • Half Small Cucumber
  • Quarter Small Carrot
  • 3 Stalks Spring Onions
  • 2 Tbsp Sea Salt
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Tbsp Korean Flakes
  • 1 Tsp Ginger
  • 2 Tsp Brown Sugar This is optional.
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce Add more if your paste is too thick.
  • 1 Tbsp Water Add this if your paste is still too thick.


  • Slice your napa cabbage & add to bowl.
  • Slice your carrots & add to bowl.
  • Slice Your Cucumber & add to bowl.
  • Salt the vegetables and let it sit for 1 hour then rinse of all the salt. Squeeze out all water.
  • Blend the fish sauce, garlic, chives and korean flake.
  • Mix the blended paste with the vegetables.
  • Allow it too fermented for 2 days and then transfer to the fridge for fresh keeping up to 1 week.


You might notice a bit of liquid at the bottom of your container or mason jar. It's from the cucumbers. Some would suggest pouring it down the drain but I say keep it and pour it over your Kimchi later for extra flavor. Also, whilst you keep the kimchi in your fridge the cucumber juices will continue to mix with the other spices and enhance the flavor over time. Enjoy 🙂
Keyword no vinegar, probiotics, vietnam

Detailed Directions


Cut your napa cabbage into thinly sliced bite size pieces and place it into a clean bowl.


Peel and cut your carrot into either circular or long pieces and also place it into the same bowl holding the cabbage.


Peel your cucumber but leave some skin on for thickness. Place this into the bowl that is already holding your cabbage and carrot.


Spread your sea salt over the carrots, cucumbers and cabbage in the bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. After 1 hour, rinse off all off the salt from the cabbage and make sure to squeeze out all of water with your hands.


While we are waiting for the vegetables in the bowl we can start on the Kimchi paste. You will need chilli flakes, fish sauce, garlic and garlic chives. 


Put it into a blender and blend. If it's too thick at this point then add more fish sauce and some clean water. 


After 1 hour has passed transfer the vegetables into a new bowl and mix the paste in with your hands or a spoon. Make sure it is mixed everywhere.


You can either let the vegetables mixed with the paste ferment in a mason jar but I decided to just let it ferment in this recyclable container. Just make sure to leave the lid loose on whatever you decide to use. This final shot was the finished result after 2-days of fermentation and the smell / taste was incredible.

Vietnamese vs South Korean Kimchi

The main difference appears to be Vinegar. Vietnamese Kimchi is almost pickled Kimchi. The Kimchi I tried in Vietnam was way less spicy than Traditional Korean and the portions were a lot smaller.

From my experience travelling in Vietnam, they don't prepare large batches of Kimchi and ferment it for a long time. They make smaller portions and ferment it for a shorter time. Because of the intense in Vietnam, fermenting can be as short as just leaving it for 1 night. 

Does Vinegar Kill Probiotic Bacteria?

Vietnamese cuisine does sometimes include the use of pickling with Vinegar. If you look around at all of the Vietnamese Kimchi recipes you will also notice some recipes mention to use vinegar. 

Using vinegar in Kimchi does kill the Probiotic bacteria and Healthline says:

"It is important to note that pickles made with vinegar do not contain live probiotics". 

While pickled foods with vinegar do add a unique flavor the answer on the probiotic benefits is clear. Your gut will not get the billions of lactobacillus Probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus Sakei bacteria found in Kimchi.

The good news, is that my recipe doesn't use Vinegar and still tastes great.

Final Thoughts

Okay I must admit this Vietnamese Kimchi isn't the most visually pleasing dish in the world. The smell from this dish however is beautiful. I urge you to make this so you can experience the smell I have my kitchen right now. It's a mix of garlic, chilli and the Vietnamese resteraunt I was sitting in years ago.


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