A few weeks ago while eating delicious Sundubu Jiggae at the 400년집 초당순두부 (400 Years House Cho-dang Soft Tofu) in Gangneung, I had the opportunity to learn how to make traditional style Korean kimchi!
Kimchi is Korea’s traditional side dish – if you’ve ever been to Korea, or even to a Korean restaurant you’ll know that it is eaten in, and with, almost everything! Kimchi stew (jiggae), Kimchi Pajeon (pancake) etc, as well as by itself as a tasty side dish.
Kimchi is made by fermenting different vegetables and adding seasonings – there are many different varieties depending on the time of year, and location. For example in coastal areas of Korea, such as Hamgyeong-Do, sometimes oysters or fish are used to season the kimchi and in inland areas, such as Chungcheong-Do, they have to rely on using more salts to give the kimchi its flavor.
Napa kimchi is the most common cabbage kimchi, it is the one which I learned to make in Gangneung recently. Usually kimchi is made in each home, and the recipe varies slightly depending on the family – Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that their mother has the best recipe!
The basic ingredients are cabbage, water, salt, garlic, green onion and red pepper. The ingredidents are all prepared then fermented in special kimchi pots. You can easily find many recipes online – here is an example from a great Korean cook I met a few years ago : http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/easy-kimchi
I had a great time learning the traditional way of preparing kimchi in Gangneung, and even sampled some while preparing, it tastes great (a bit spicy) even before fermenting! As well as being really tasty and great accompaniment to all meals, kimchi is also a super food! So eat it often for great health benefits!