Community Kimchi Making – Taste of the Motherland

Freddie, my fiance, volunteered us to help out his parent’s church in making kimchi. It was AWESOME.


In case you don’t know what kimchi is:
(Taken from Wikipedia)

Kimchi (Korean: 김치 Korean pronunciation: [kimtɕʰi]Englishpronunciation:/ˈkɪmi/), also spelled kimchee or gimchi, is a traditional fermentedKoreanside dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is often described as “spicy” or “sour”.  In traditional preparation Kimchi was often allowed to ferment underground in jars for months at a time. It is Korea’s national dish, and there are hundreds of varieties made with a main vegetable ingredient such as napa cabbageradishscallion, or cucumber.Kimchi is also a main ingredient for many Korean dishes such as kimchi stew (김치찌개; kimchi jjigae), kimchi pancake (김치부침게; kimchijeon), kimchi soup (김칫국; kimchiguk), and kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥; kimchi bokkeumbap).

So Freddie’s parents reached out to a local kimchi manufacturing company. Not only did the owner let us use his facility, but he taught us how to make primo kimchi. Anyways, this is a huge deal for me because kimchi isn’t just a traditional side dish. It goes beyond that in a sense that back in the day, one of the main bonding activities between a mother and daughter was the passing of the family kimchi recipe. It’s a very meticulous task with each incremental step significantly affecting the taste and texture of the kimchi. Because of how meticulous and time-consuming the process is, it’s ridiculous to make kimchi in small batches. Back in the day, women would gather together and make kimchi in bulk over gossip and barley tea. I’m sure women of the older generation do this still, but it’s unheard of amongst my generation.

My paternal grandmother used to own a Korean restaurant in Seoul and that woman made one hell of a kimchi. Everyone… I’m not even kidding, went BANANAS for them. Sadly, she passed away and my mother never learned how to make it. I’m pretty sure my dad holds that against her to this day.

Nowadays, because of the fast-paced and western-influenced culture in Korea, the art of making kimchi is a dying tradition. Don’t get me wrong, Koreans will never stop eating kimchi. It’s everywhere, and actually a couple years ago, when there was a drought in Korea and the price of Napa Cabbages skyrocketed, Korea pretty much went into a mass panic mode.  The fact of the matter is that it’s all being outsourced to large manufacturing facilities and this opportunity was something I wasn’t going to miss out on.

Photo Sep 28, 1 35 03 PM

Freddie doing "quality assurance."

Freddie doing “quality assurance.”

Photo Sep 28, 10 38 52 AM (1) Photo Sep 28, 1 38 36 PM

The big dog showing us how it's done.

The big dog showing us how it’s done.

Photo Sep 28, 11 58 26 AM (1)

Lunch time! The ajimas made us Korean food!

Photo Sep 28, 10 38 22 AM Photo Sep 28, 10 39 33 AM Photo Sep 28, 1 38 21 PM

This reminds me of Dexter.

This reminds me of Dexter.

2000 pounds of kimchi.

2000 pounds of kimchi.

Photo Sep 28, 10 39 01 AM Photo Sep 28, 10 38 35 AM

Kimchi batch!

Kimchi batch!

Napa cabbage that's been soaked in salt water.

Napa cabbage that’s been soaked in salt water.

Photo Sep 28, 1 38 43 PM

The men taking a break. They weren't used to this type of intense labor. ;)

The men taking a break. They weren’t used to this type of intense labor. ;)

I would swim in this...

I would swim in this…

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Caught on video!

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