Menu
Search

Soul Nourishing Food Kimchi Posted by on Aug 16, 2021 in Culture, Food, Korean Language

I am currently in a country where daily COVID-19 cases are mercilessly going up. 봉쇄령 (bong-sea-ryung: Lockdown) has been ordered a long ago and it seems to be continually 연기되다 (yeon-gi-dwe-dah: extended). 

During the lockdown, I was looking for something to do at home. One of the activities I chose to do at home was making 김치 (Kimchi: a staple food in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables). This decision surprisingly changed many aspects of my current situation. I feel compelled to share my thoughts about Kimchi with all of you. 

photo was taken by the author

 

Why am I relentlessly talking about Kimchi?

I have made Kimchi in many different countries, where I couldn’t gather all the needed 재료 (jae-ryo: ingredients). Some of the Kimchi I made turned out okay, but I couldn’t taste home. I admit, however, making Kimchi was a good thing to boost spirits up in foreign lands.

Ever since graduating high school, I have been living abroad. I did not have any problems with not being able to have Korean food daily before, but it is a different story when it has been over three years since I haven’t been home. To soothe down rapidly developing 향수병 (hyang-soo-byung: homesickness), I used to go to Korean restaurants in foreign countries, if accessible. It somewhat satiated the hunger for 고향 음식 (goh-hyang-eum-sik: home country food), but the efficacy of restaurant Korean food was very temporary. It was like putting a tiny bandage over a serious punctured wound. 

Fortunately, I am now staying in a country where I could access good quality Korean ingredients. I have filled my 냉장고 (naeng-jang-goh: refrigerator) with homemade Kimchi. Knowing that I have Kimchi in my refrigerator nourishes my soul. Kimchi might be just an authentic food item for some of you, but it is a 반석 (bahn-suk: a foundation, a rock) that keeps this native Korean going during the pandemic.

 

Is it difficult to make Kimchi?

Yes and no. 

I tell you upfront that making Kimchi at home is a very 시간 소모가 큰 (sih-gahn-so-moh-gah-keun: time-consuming) task with a lot of chopping.

I used to buy Kimchi from grocery stores. They are tasty and convenient. Why not just buy them from a store? However, they are not cheap if you want to have Kimchi on every single meal like me. 

I remember my parents used to make Kimchi at home and they enjoyed it. Whenever they made Kimchi at home, the kitchen got really messy. The house was filled with the smell of garlic, onion, and red pepper. Even to my eyes, it was not a small task to do. I wondered why my parents were having so much fun making that labor-intense food.

My takeaway for you

I found this recipe on the internet. I believe the cook lives in the United States. Because of that reason, a lot of her recipes are appropriate for people who live abroad. She introduces many Korean ingredients that could be 대체되다 (dae-che-dwe–dah: to be replaced). Here is a Kimchi recipe I have religiously followed many times.

https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/tongbaechu-kimchi

 

In a nutshell, there are four main parts to making Kimchi at home.

  1. 배추 절임 (bae-choo-jul-im: brining cabbages): believe it or not, brining cabbage is the most important step of the whole process. Most Koreans use 천일염 (chun-il-yeom: sun-dried salt), but, I couldn’t find the salt here. I used good quality sea salt. Keep in mind that It will take about two hours to brine cabbage.

photo was taken by the author

 

photo was taken by the author

 

2. Prepare 풀 (pool: rice porridge): I was surprised when I found out Kimchi needs rice porridge made from rice powder. After making Kimchi several times, it all makes sense now. Rice porridge serves as glue, so all chopped vegetables stick together. Genius!

 

photo was taken by the author

 

3. Chop, chop and chop: This step seems to take forever. Therefore, I usually chop everything while the napa cabbages are being brined. If you have a food processor, you will certainly have time to have a cup of tea!

 

photo was taken by the author

 

photo was taken by the author

 

4. Clothes red sauce on every leaf of cabbage: This step is actually fun to do. I see now that my parents enjoyed this step and all that laughter and joy probably came from it.

photo was taken by the author

 

Kimchi has been brought me home wherever I go. Making Kimchi at home becomes a spiritual prescription because it mirrors my true roots.

Keep learning Korean with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Flying Oyster

Hi, I was born and raised in Seoul, S. Korea. I have lived in Seattle for a while and I am traveling the world with my husband since 2016. It is my honor to share Korean culture with you all. Don't be shy to share your thoughts and comments! :) Talk to you soon. H.J.


Leave a comment: