wintertime means time to make kimchi (김치). traditionally, this was done because napa cabbage (배추) was only available at the end of the year. nowadays napa cabbage (배추) is available year-round, but the tradition remains because people say that winter cabbage tastes better and turning it into kimchi (김치) means you can savor that winter flavor.

also, it’s a time for ladies to gather in the kitchen and talk for days while cooking. winter is a time when people reaffirm their relationships, kimjang/김장 is a way to prepare and pack away some family togetherness for the coming year. traditionally a large production, literally producing enough kimchi (김치) for multiple families for the next year.


big on tradition, MIL (mother in-law) called me, her sister and her niece over to make winter kimchi (김장). thankfully, we blended new conveniences with kimchi making (김장). first of all, MIL ordered the napa cabbage (배추) from the market (시장) already prepped and delivered to her door:




the prepared napa cabbage (배추) saved a day of work: going to the market (시장), buying a shopping cart full of napa cabbage (배추), taking it home, washing it, sprinkling it with salt, leaving it to soften overnight under pressure (balancing the big vats one on top of the other).

ingredients we used for the base include: crushed garlic (마늘), fresh ginger (생강), green onions (파), red pepper flakes (고추가루), shrimp paste (새우젓), anchovy stock (멸치류), salt (소금), sugar (설탕), carrots (당근), sesame seeds (깨), apples (사과), asian pears (배), sweet rice (찹쌀), daikon radish (무) and many other greens (미나리) for which i don’t know the english translation.









these things are blended together in a large wide bowl (the size of a car tire). there is no recipe, there are no measurements, there is only knowing (손맛). every household makes kimchi (김치) differently, it’s not because i’m a gyopo/교포 that i can’t convey a recipe for kimchi (김치).

the sweet rice (찹쌀) is allowed to cool to room temperature, then the red pepper flakes (고추가루) are added. after that, most everything else was blended together except for the napa cabbage (배추).






after everything is nicely blended together, as above, the napa cabbage (배추) is then dressed with this base. you take one-fourth of the napa cabbage (배추) and then stuff each leaf with some of this base. then you fold the leaves toward the center while reserving the outermost leaf to use as a belt to wrap it all together. finally, you place it into the kimchi refrigerator (김치냉장고) container for storage. once the container is full, line the top with plastic to further limit contact with air and close the lid. wait until the next day to place the container into the kimchi refrigerator (김치냉장고).




ta da!

why go to all this trouble? again, there is the family bonding. then there is the fact that you can control what goes in your food. as with all purchased food, you can never be certain whether high quality ingredients were used in the making. here, people are concerned with the use of chinese ingredients (read toxic insecticides) and MSG (미연).