Kimchi – Is a traditional fermented korean dish made from vegetables and varied seasonings. there are hundreds of different varieties and it can be made from different vegetables such as cucumber, radishes, and cabbage. Kimchi is the most beloved side dish in korea and is a very poplar ingredient in many dishes.
Kimchi is made every season and every house hold that has the opportunity makes their own 4 times a year. It is a proper household affair and family gather together to make a joint effort in making it. I am staying with my friend Soljee’s family and I had the honor of witnessing and joining in on the process, and I tell you, what a process it is!
This Kimchi is made with cabbage as the base vegetable, we used thirty huge cabbage heads!
All the cabbages get chopped into fours and soak in equal amount of water and salt over night if its winter, for five hours if its summer.Soljee’s family were given the cabbages from their next door neighbors that grow them purely with the intention of making kimchi.
Ingredients include chopped big white radishes, scallions, mustard greens, drop wort (bitter sour twig tasting looks like a spring onion (sort of).
Here are the mustard greens with chopped spring onions
Auntie chopping drop wort
In a Big basin, the chopped radishes get mixed with Korean chilli powder, then some ginger, this will be the sauce that forms the base for the kimchi.
Throw in some mini Prawns
A Splash of Fermented fish sauce, a dash of sugar, plum brandy, mustard cress, scallios, dropwort, glutenouse rice, hard work and love goes in.
It all gets mixed very well to form the yummy sauce that covers the cabbage.
When the sauce is ready and mixed, its carefully folded into each cabbage by hand.
The cabbages are carefully placed into big plastic containers that go into a kimchi fridge or in the past buried under ground.
I think what surprised me the most is how much work goes into this little dish that is eaten every day at every meal (yes even for breakfast). It brought the whole family together, aunties from other corners of town, nans, daughters and fathers. Kimchi is something that is made and shared between family, friends and neighbors and every family has their own unique recipe. The ingredients can be the same but the timings and seasonings vary form house to house. Each and every cabbage is folded by hand one by one with love, care and tenderness This might sound soppy but I found my morning strangly inspiring. It made me happy to see three generations help each other make this traditional dish that brought everybody together. I guess I dont have anything to compare it to really. Except I remember my grandmother used to pickle, boil and jar vegetables every year before the winter. But I think in our neck of the woods its a dying tradition, for me its a shame really because I think a dose of tradition, family values, and togetherness does everybody some good.
Thank you Soljee and your family for letting me join you in making Kimchi!