Just a few days ago, I spoke to my friend about making kimchi again before the summer would end.
He immediately asked me if I would show him how to make it some day.
So I took that opportunity (and the fact that he had a few days off from work) to find a perfect day to make kimchi.
THE “WHEN & WHAT”
On Wednesday, I went to the Chinese grocery store and Adonis to buy some kimchi ingredients.
The entire kimchi-making process is a 2-day thing.
You can’t make it in a day unless if you order Napa cabbages already prepped for you from a Korean grocery store.
In short, there are two main steps of kimchi-making:
Day 1 – Salting the cabbages
Day 2 – The day you actually make kimchi
I didn’t need my friend to come over to watch me salt the cabbages (Day 1 of kimchi-making) since it only took about 20 mins.
Instead, I took a few pictures and some embarrassing “fail” videos of myself cutting the cabbages and salting them.
Too embarrassing to even post here, sorry guys.
OH MY WAIT. WHAT IS KIMCHI?
Sorry, dear readers. I went ahead of myself and started talking about kimchi as if you guys are all Korean.
So, what is kimchi?
Let’s look up some definitions …
Wikipedia says, kimchi is a “traditional fermented Korean dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings”
Merriam-Webster says, kimchi is a “vegetable pickle seasoned with garlic, red pepper, and ginger that is the national dish of Korea”
Words aren’t good enough for ya?
If you’re more of a “visual” type, here’s a picture found on the internet (courtesy of Running Magazine):
Kimchi is one of those things that’s just impossible to make right from reading the recipe and “how-to” online.
You really need a tutorial session by a real Korean kimchi-making master.
As for me, I luckily have my mum to guide me through the steps!
So if you want to learn how to make kimchi, you’ll need to find a kimchi-making master.
Or ask me! 🙂
Kimchi is like pasta to Italians.
Although kimchi is a side dish and pasta is primarily a main dish, Koreans make many different dishes using just kimchi.
We make kimchi stew, kimchi pancakes, kimchi fried rice, etc.
There are variations to the taste of kimchi.
Some like it sour, others like it raw.
Therefore, the fermenting process can slightly differ from one avid eater to another.
THE 2 WAYS OF MAKING KIMCHI
1 – 포기김치 (“Pogi Kimchi”)
Marinate the kimchi in 1/4 cabbage pieces.
2 – 맛김치 (“Mat Kimchi”)
Cut up the cabbages into small biteable sizes and then marinate.
See the difference below:
Of course, it’s only made differently.
So when you eat it, you would cut up the Pogi Kimchi into small bite-size pieces.
The perks of making Pogi Kimchi is that it lasts longer since it’s not cut up in the marinating process.
The perks of making Mat Kimchi is that it’s already cut up for you.
So if you’re making batches of kimchi to last you a while, you might want to consider making Pogi Kimchi.
LET’S GET GOING NOW
Now that you know everything there is to know about kimchi (not really, there’s a lot more),
you’re ready to read on about my kimchi-making experience with my friend and my trustee kimchi master – my mom!
Red chilli pepper flakes
Flour + Water mix
Coarse sea salt
To be honest, I won’t tell you in exact details how I made it.
There’s no point cause most of you won’t make it simply by reading this.
And I sure hope you don’t!
Learn from someone.
Grab a Korean and learn to make Kimchi.
But here’s the somewhat brief details of what went down Thursday afternoon.
KIMCHI DAY 1
As mentioned earlier, there are 2 steps.
Day 1 consists of simply cutting the cabbages in 4 pieces.
Except my mom and I thought it’d be fun to take a selfie with the cabbages!
Okay, so start by cutting it in half (the long way).
And then cut the halves in half again.
(Photo courtesy of Maangchi)
The Day 1 process is the same for both types of kimchi.
So there’s nothing to worry about at this point if you’re still hesitating which one to make!
So you can think about it overnight, dream about it, whichever one works best for you 😀
After cutting up the cabbages, you need to place them in a big bowl.
And when I say big, I mean .. like enough for it to be a bathtub for a cat/small dog.
But hey, that’s the Korean way.
And that’s cause we make big batches at a time.
It’s a long and strenuous process, so why not?
Then you’re going to take a mixing bowl and pour a bunch of coarse sea salt and then add cold water.
And then pour it onto the cabbages.
Basically, the cabbages need to sit in salted water overnight.
Just make sure it’s not completely soaked in the water.
So, it should look like this:
Preferably, you should do this around in the evening and then proceed to the Day 2 part of kimchi-making in the afternoon on the following day.
Sounds complicated already, eh?
If you’re brave, keep reading.
So you let it sit there and cover it, if you can.
Just so you don’t get any dust/bugs falling into it.
And there you have it, day 1 is complete.
FOOD MORNING, PEOPLE. Oh wait, oops. [DAY 2]
So today’s the big day!
There are 3 important steps to this day:
1 – Rinse the cabbages
2 – Prep the ingredients
2 – Mix it all together
So my friend came over and the first thing I did was to give him an apron.
To shield himself from kimchi spicy sauce splatter.
It is quite recommended unless you want to end up looking like a dalmatian..
But with red spots all over you.
Or you can just be extremely careful during the mixing process, but where’s the fun in that? 😛
To increase efficiency (cause I’m always like that), we divided our tasks.
I took on some of the tedious tasks and rinsed the cabbages under cold water 3 times.
It may sound easy … but it’s 5 cabbages cut into 4 pieces..
I had to rinse 20 pieces of cabbages … 3 times.
It was a whole lot of fun (not really, I was already exhausted!)
And it took a good .. 10-15 mins.
Meanwhile, my friend was in charge of chopping the onions .. and the green onions …
And then tearing up a bit every once in a while and said,
“So you got the kind of onions that make you cry …”
Okay there, buddy.
Keep choppin’ them onions!!
After having rinsed the millions of cabbages,
I showed my friend how to slice up the daikon radishes into matchstick pieces.
I gave him 4/5 for chopping and his slicing quality, and then 5/5 for effort.
And then, I had him cut the cabbages to make Mat-Kimchi – so they were cut up into biteable sizes.
The weather was really nice out and I really wanted to take the opportunity to do the last and most important part outside on my backyard deck.
We brought out all our ingredients and sat on our deck for the mixing process.
LET’S GET MIXIN’
Finally, here comes the mixing part.
So we took all the ingredients and threw them into a large bowl.
Of course, this part is the best.
However, the sun was getting way too hot, so we moved back indoors right away!
Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the actual mixing cause I was helping my friend and didn’t want to interrupt the mixing process with me taking pictures every two seconds.
And I didn’t want my phone to get all messy.
After having thoroughly mixed it, we took the large bowl that contained the cut-up cabbages for Mat-Kimchi and poured about 2/3 of the daikon radishes (we saved the 1/3 for the Pogi Kimchi).
Again, I will save you from the more complicated explanation of the processes …
In the end, we stored them in large airtight containers and left them in room temperature.
Make sure to place saran wrap on top of it and pat it down to “seal it”.
This way, it would keep it fresh longer.
This is a crucial step in making kimchi.
Kimchi is all about the fermentation process.
I mentioned earlier that many people like their kimchi fermented differently.
Some like it in the early stages and others like it fully fermented.
As for my family, we like to leave the kimchi out for 2 days in its container.
Then, we store it in the fridge – ready to be consumed!
What we normally do is use Pogi-Kimchi for stews and kimchi appetizers and use the Mat-Kimchi for side dishes and fried rice.
But it’s all up to you, of course 🙂
I know I said I was going to keep it short and brief, but …
I just couldn’t.
When it comes to kimchi for any korean, there’s just so much to say about it.
It’s our main traditional dish (even if it’s a side dish!)
I had so much fun making the kimchi, but the “cleaning up” part was a whole other thing …
It took me 45 mins to clean up everything.
It’s all still worth it when you take that one extremely rewarding bite out of that homemade kimchi!
Thanks for bearing with me and reading through the whole blog!
It means a lot to me, my mum, and ultimately my grandma (the real kimchi master!)
Tiny Chef xo.