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Kimjang is an Overwhelming Business

By December 10, 2010No Comments

By Hyo
New Organizing Project blogger

Photos by Hyo

This is PART 2 of Hyo’s Kimchi Series! You an read PART 1 here.

This weekend I was determined to put my kimchi curiosity up to a challenge.  I penciled in kimjang in my calendar under my “things to do” list.  Made my way over to H-mart and carefully handpicked each and every ingredient for my first batch of kimchi.  For my recipe I picked up following fresh ingredients:

–       1 medium size Napa cabbage

–       1 small size radish

–       4-5 onions

–       2 garlic cloves

–       5-7 stalks of scallions (green onions)

–       1 Korean pear

–       2 cups of red pepper flakes

–       1/4 cup of sweet rice flour

–       1/4 cup of fish sauce

–       1/4 cup of sugar

–       1 Tbs. of ginger

–       Sugar

–       Water

Before I walk you through the step-by-step of kimjang, be aware that depending on your personal preference you may add or negate some ingredients—use discretion (or call your mom and ask)!

1. Cabbage Stage

— Cut the cabbage into half and sprinkle salt between the leaves

—  In a large mixing bowl or a pot mix enough water to soak the cabbage

—  Add 1 1/2 cups of salt and stir

— Soak your cabbage in salt water for about 4 hours (flip sides at hour 2 to evenly soak your cabbage)

— After about 4 hours of soaking the cabbage will shrink in size noticeably

2. Porridge Stage I

— Add 1/4 cup of sweet rice flour and 2 cups of water in a pot.  Stir over medium heat until flour dissolves

— Add 1/4 cup of sugar into the mix and stir

— Let the mix cool

3. Healthy Stage

— Chop up onions and 2/3rd of radish into long stringy pieces

— Chop up scallions into 1” pieces

— Mix by using a food processor following ingredients:

i.          1/2 cup of chopped garlic

ii.          1 Tbs of ginger

iii.          1/4th of pear

iv.          1/3rd of radish

v.          1/2 of an onion


4. Porridge Stage II

— Add 2 cups of red pepper flakes into the cooled porridge mix

— Add 1/4 cup of fish sauce

— Add all of stuffing ingredients into the mix

— Stir until porridge is well mixed

— Let the porridge mix sit before

5. Cleansing Stage

— Take out cabbage and rinse through cold water 3 times

— Make sure to be thorough

— Squeeze out water from stalk to leafy end

6. Stuffing Stage

— Using your hands in a large mixing bowl stuff each layer of the cabbage with the porridge mix

— Add mix liberally onto each layer until the entire cabbage is covered with porridge mix

— Massage and pack on the porridge mix onto the cabbage

7. Fermenting Stage

— Place kimchi in an air-tight container

— Cabbage should be covered and soaked in porridge mix

— Let kimchi sit in room temperate for 2 days

After two days, place kimchi in your refrigerator to enjoy!

I have to be honest and say that I was a bit nervous to try my own kimchi.  For some reason, when finished with my kimchi, it neither smelled nor looked anything like my mom’s! After letting it ferment on my countertop for a few days I was courageous enough to sit for a meal with my boyfriend (who was kind enough to try my kimchi without cringing).

As soon as I took my first bite, I was so grateful for my mom’s batch of kimchi sitting in my fridge.  Although it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be I couldn’t say that it was uhhmazing…

Through this experience, I realized what a time-consuming kimjang process is and how much technique and 손맛 it truly takes to prepare a year’s worth of kimchi.  Without doubt, it was an experience that I probably won’t forget nor repeat until I absolutely have to! With this said, I think when I go home for x-mas break, I’m going to ask my mom a few more questions and learn some techniques before I give this kimjang activity another try!

Thank you to all the Korean 아줌마s who spend days preparing our favorite dish!