Growing up Korean has its perks, but the best one out of all for me would be the endless and countless options of Kimchi. You name the occasion and there will be a perfect kimchi type to compliment. You walk into any Korean restaurant and there! Kimchi at your service.
Photo Credit: closetcooking.blogspot.com
With this in mind, there has been a serious shortage of napa cabbage in Korea for this year’s kimjang season, apparently due to unforeseen weather complications. I was struck with this unfortunate news here on campus through a student newspaper, The Public Asian. Such shortage has pushed the price of napa cabbage to spike over 400% causing restaurants to charge for kimchi as a sidedish!
What has the world come to?!?
This has serious implications. Let me try and explain (no scientific analysis involved but cultural and personal take).
Ever since I can remember, kimchi has been an essential part of my diet. I remember when my parents used to slice up a kimchi piece, run it in water to get rid of the pepper flakes and place it on a spoonful of rice. When I finally learned to use the chopsticks, I used to pick at the base of the napa cabbage and ignore the leafy parts where the flavor is often richer.
You walk into any restaurant in Korea and you’ll find kimchi as a must. And I’m not just talking about a single type of kimchi but I’m talking cabbage kimchi, scallion kimchi, radish kimchi, water kimchi, pickled kimchi and so it goes.
Photo credit: Songhak Elementary School
Kimchi also has multiple functions aside from just being a sidedish. You can wrap pork bellies around it, use it to make stew, chop it up as an ingredient for your fried rice, add water and bean sprouts to make soup and the list goes on. Just stop by any Korean barbeque in your area and you’ll find kimchi to be the best compliment to the greasy piece of meat.
Photo credit: Alan Chan
I hope you get the point.
Kimchi is IMPORTANT to us Koreans and for those who have acquired the addictive taste, texture, function and health implications of an amazing creation that’s been passed down for generations.
I was saddened to find too many articles explaining and pointing to the reality Koreans are to face. It may seem trivial to some, especially those who have not yet been blessed with everything kimchi, but for those of us who are fond of our cultural number one dish, this is news we don’t want to hear.
This is serious problem enough and I’ll not get into the loss of kimjang tradition, where women of a family gather together for a day or two to make and stock up on a year’s worth of kimchi for the entire family. Now, many resort to the nearest grocery store to find their quick fix.
So this past weekend while at home for Thanksgiving, I talked my mom into sharing her recipe for kimchi.
I don’t want to lose our tradition; I also don’t want to resort to a mediocre store made kimchi that lacks my mom’s personal twist to the taste and texture. And I also want to start kimjang for myself as to not lose our family’s own kimchi flavor and style.
So for those who are curious what this kimchi is all about or for those who live alone and only need a cabbage or two to get through a few months, tune in for next week’s post where I’ll share with you my first kimjang experience for the season!