I didn't plan to make nearly as much myself. We originally planned to buy 20 kilos of pre-preserved cabbage to make kim chi (about 10 heads of kim chi), but then a friend offered to bring some fresh cabbage from her parent's organic farm outside of Seoul. While this was a little more difficult, we decided it was the better option, and so Saturday night our friend showed up with a car full of 30 big heads of cabbage and about 10 radishes.
A lot of cabbages. And the white bag is full of radishes
Expert cabbage chopper
My bathtub full of cabbages. Not sure what we would have done if we hadn't had a bathtub...
Cabbage with lots of salt
Buying lots of red pepper powder at the market
Most, but not all of the ingredients for the sauce
preparing spring onions
Shredding radishes and carrots
Chopping sweet potatoes
Chopping more radish
Having some fun while mixing the sauce
Close up of the sauce
As some of us prepared the sauce, others were out in the courtyard washing the salt off the cabbages to prepare them to be made into kim chi.
Washing the salt off the cabbages
Finally, after nearly 3 hours of preparation, it was time to do the part everyone was waiting for. Turning the cabbage into kim chi. While it would have been better to do it outside, it was so chilly today that we kept working in the kitchen, despite the lack of space and the mess. You must be very careful when adding the sauce to the kim chi, you need to make sure that each leaf has got enough sauce, and you need to make sure that there is enough sauce, even at the base of the cabbage.
Turning the cabbage into kim chi...
And having a little fun too...
Despite having 20 heads of cabbage to add sauce to, this part of the afternoon seemed to fly by. Before we knew it, we had all 20 cabbages done.
(Some of) the finished product
We added the finished product into various containers for folks to bring home and we put all of ours into a 항아리 (hangari) which most foreigners know as "kim chi pots". Actually we've had these pots for months and have used them for everything but kim chi, but finally we were able to put them to use for their most well known use.
Hangari filled with kim chi
At long last, we were able to sit back and relax, and of course, what better way than with some bossam? Boiled pork wrapped in cabbage leaves (both fresh and preserved), spicy sauce, oysters and fermented shrimp.
Bossam for dinner
While not everyone has the time/ energy/ budget/ space to do their own kimjang, everyone should try making their own kimchi, at least once. There's many recipes online both in English and Korean, but when it comes down to it, you need to follow your own taste buds. Each region and even each family has their own recipe, so there's no right or wrong. I will not use measurements here because it all depends on how much you make and your own taste.
The following ingredients are the most basic:
- Red pepper powder 고추가루
- radish 무
- rice porridge for thickening 찹쌀죽
- garlic 마늘
- ginger 생강
- fermented shrimp* 새우젓
- Anchovy sauce* 멸치액젓
*can be omitted for vegetarian kim chi
however we got creative and combined several family recipes by adding:
- apple 사과
- carrot 당근
- sweet potato 고구마
- sea weed 청각
- green onion 쪽파
- 'gat' (a green leafy vegetable) 갓
Have you ever made kim chi? What special ingredients did you add?