This is gonna be a big post; be prepared!
My momma called me on Sunday and asked if I could come down because she was planning on making some kimchi, and I’ve always bothered her about calling me the next time she did. And lo and behold, she called me!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it down, so she agreed to postpone until Monday.
Making kimchi, is usually quite the social event. Family and friends all come together to partake in the kimchi making because a) it takes a buttload of work and b) because socializing is fun. I remember when I went out to Korea back in 2005, and all my aunts, my grandma and a few of the cousins all got together to make kimchi. I have to say, it’s one of my fondest memories.
So you start off with Napa cabbage. You can either half it or quarter it. Then you dunk it into a salt bath (pretty much water with dissolved salt), and just layer the cabbage; sprinkling some more salt to every layer. Then you add salt water until all the cabbage is just covered. Did I mention you’ll be needing lots and lots of containers/buckets/ginormous bowl thingies that every Korean family seems to possess? And salt? Let rest for about 10 hours.
After the 10 hours, you will rotate the cabbage: top to bottom, bottom to top. Let rest for another few hours. My mom checked on them every once in a while, and when the cabbage is wilted, but still has a bit of crispness left, then you need to evacuate and give them a good washing. Notice that I never mentioned washing the cabbage till now? This is where you do it, thoroughly.
The most important part of kimchi is the sauce. Kimchi is nothing without sauce. Every region is different, and even every family is different. The ingredients in my mom’s kimchi sauce are: salted shrimp, anchovy sauce, dashi, dangerous amounts of garlic, ginger, water, Korean red pepper flakes.
Then in the big ass bucket/bowl, my mom julienned green onions and Korean radishes. Have you ever seen a Korean radish?
The bowl/bucket is big enough that she can put her cutting board inside and chop away.
Then come the radishes.
Then you pour the sauce in.
Now’s the fun part. Throw in the cabbage and smother in sauce. Actually, it’s a bit more delicate than that. You have to make sure you get the sauce on every leaf, so you separate them one by one, and make sure you get even coverage. And this part is why you wear crappy clothes when you make kimchi. You’ll get home and start seeing these red spots all over your clothes, and will be grateful you wore clothes that you don’t care about.
The kimchi is stored in a container and kept refrigerated, and it’ll last us around 6 months. Yes, 6 months. The kimchi will start to ferment, and it will start giving out it’s own juices to add to the mix. Some people like to leave out the batch that will be eaten soonest, to let it ferment and age faster, but we like fresher kimchi, so it goes into my mom’s special kimchi fridge immediately (yeah, she has a kimchi fridge; Google it).
And as always, you can click on a picture to make it bigger.