Kimchi is most probably the national dish of Korea. Every household would have some in the their fridge. Some even have dedicated Kimchi fridges. I never appreciated eating kimchi when I was growing up but ever since I moved to Singapore, I crave the good homemade stuff. Once I bought a small packet of kimchi from Cold Storage supermarket and nearly fainted when i saw fungus growing inside. Kimchi naturally ferments and becomes sour over time. I’ve never known it to go off.
A number of people have asked me if I could run a kimchi class. It’s been a while since I made kimchi . Since it takes so long to make, most Korean families buy it from a supermarket. However, if you are lucky enough to live close to your parents or even your in-laws, you will always receive a constant supply.
My parents arrived last weekend with boxes and boxes of authentic Korean ingredients ready for my cooking classes. I decided to take advantage of mum being here and refresh my kimchi making skills. As I was pounding a bulb of garlic, childhood memories came flooding back. I remembered times when all the Korean aunties(a-jum-ma) got together and would spend the Autumn days making kimchi. Everyone would make enough to last the cold Korean winter. Back in the olden days, the kimchi would be placed in a brown clay pot and buried in the frosty ground to keep it cool. With a modern technology, most Korean families own a kimchi fridge which keeps it at just the right temperature to stop it fermenting.
To make kimchi, the secret is to soak the cabbage in salty water until it becomes soft, but not too soggy. It normally takes around 6-8hours. After waiting patiently, I was ready to smear the cabbage with the kimchi sauce consisting of garlic, ginger, spring onions, white raddish and carrot. I was a little too enthusiastic with the fresh chilli powder though so it ended up extra spicy! Whilst you can eat it straight away, its best if you leave it in the fridge for a few days so that all the exotic tastes can permeate through the cabbage.
Making kimchi is a group activity and is lots of fun. It normally takes a full day (including all the Auntie gossip!) but I’m happy to show people the basics in a three hour session.