Making Kimchi (Kim jang) & Bossam

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Early winter seems to be the kimchi making period, that spicy fermented Korean national dish that is meant to be so healthy and disease preventing. It's a side dish that pretty never leaves a Korean dining table, and Koreans cannot live without it. In fact, you are not Korean if you don't like kimchi, they say.

I certainly am not a kimchi addict, I don't search it out or crave it, and my chopsticks don't really find their way towards the dish often. But I was interested enough on learning how to make the cabbage kimchi when Aunt N asked me if I would like to join her at Gran Y's place one Saturday morning.
Gran had already prepared everything and had done the hard bits the night before for us when we arrived. All the adults of our extended family turned up to help for the day. Though in reality it was only Aunts G and T who actually got their hands dirty, while I helped with bringing the ingredients over as necessary and packaging the containers in the end, Aunt N dishwashing when all was finished, and the uncles discussed real estates.
Sliced and chopped radish act as fillers between the cabbage leaves. These fillers are spiced up with chilli powder, salt, shrimps, garlic, sugar... Then mixed. Green cabbage leaves are mixed in. The handfuls are slobbered between each Chinese cabbage leaves, which are then put into big kimchi containers to be put into kimchi fridges and fermented. They are taken out and eaten little by little, as desired, all throughout winter. Depending on how many families need to be provided for, it can be a big or a little task. 
It was a cool early winter day, beautiful, with no clouds in sight. 
I love visiting Gran Y, even though she lives in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do except to watch TV and sleep. Maybe that's why I love it. 
What a weird looking pair of radishes! Looks more like Ginseng.
Traditionally, when people used to live in proper houses instead of apartments, and before kimchi fridges came about, kimchi and other foods were stored outside in pots like these.
After all the kimchi are made, it's usually bossam time. Bossam is eaten by wrapping fresh kimchi leaves with steam cooked pork pieces wrapped with fresh green leaves. Yum. I don't like soft kimchi in soups at all, but I do like crisp fresh ones with bites.

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