Kimchi is pickled cabbage covered with hot pepper sauce and it is the most popular dish in Korea. Health Magazine named it one of the 5 healthiest foods in the world, and also claim that the average Korean eats 40 pounds a year of it. How is it possible to eat 40 pounds of cabbage a year? Well, you eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner. Mmmm.
Kimchi is high in fiber, low in fat, and packed with vitamins that kill bacteria. Koreans are very prideful about the health impacts of kimchi, which causes them to make up outrageous claims like kimchi will prevent people from getting the Bird Flu. I'm not kidding. When Bird Flu was 'in', you know, before Swing Flu, people here thought kimchi would cure and/or prevent people from getting the flu. Sales of kimchi skyrocketed during that period, and an air condition manufacturer even made an air conditioner, "equipped with a filter made out of kimchi that destroys the killer bird flu virus." True story!
I may have gotten ahead of myself, some people might not know what 'pickling' entails…
Pickling is a method of preserving food, it is done so by keeping a food item in vinegar, or covering it with salt. This prevents the food from going bad for a very, very long time. Sounds gross right? Do you like pickles? Well, they are not a vegetable, they are 'pickled' cucumbers. Moving on...
There's nearly 200 types of kimchi, but the basic ingredients are cabbage, salt and hot pepper sauce. You can also make it with onions, spices, etc. Kimchi may sound gross to you, and a lot of people I know who are not from Korea that like eating ethnic food don't even dig kimchi, but I have no problem with it and eat it everyday (only at lunch or dinner, never breakfast). It's part of the culture here so I feel like it's something everyone should at least be willing to try on occasion.
Kimchi has been around for nearly 3,000 years, so it’s a strong element of their culture. People even say "kimchi" when taking a picture, not "cheese." Most importantly, the process of making kimchi is an annual event in which the entire family participates in making kimchi before the winter comes and a lot of the cabbage crops go bad. This happens around early November. One weekend I asked my students what they were up to, and they all replied "making kimchi with my family," so I felt like it was a pretty big deal. I get the perception that you're not a true Korean if you buy your kimchi pre-made. I guess it would be like an Italian in Italy buying Ragu? Or a redneck buying KFC and not slow-roasting a hog for 20 hours on 200 degrees? Just kidding rednecks!
So, when one of my friends at the gym I go to told me he was making kimchi with his family, I asked him to take pictures so I could share with people on my blog. Here is a step by step guide with pictures on how to make kimchi...
Step One: Buy A Ridiculous Amount Of Cabbage (50 heads for this family)
(which I guess aren’t as fresh and capable of being preserved)
Step Three: Chop It Into Smaller Pieces
Step Four: Throw Them In Buckets And Cover With
Salt (lots), And Let Sit (usually overnight) Step Five: Assemble Together All Other Vegetables You Will Use Step Six: Chop Those Up Step
Seven: Mix All Those Chopped Vegetables Together
Step Eight: Rinse Off Cabbage In Buckets Of Water
Step Nine: Mix Vegetables And Red Pepper Sauce
Together, Apply Layers Of It To Each Cabbage Leaf
Step Ten: Preserve Kimchi In Stone Jars