Being Korean American, I grew up eating kimchee. It was just a part of meals every night, and I didn’t really think much about it. I liked it, didn’t LOVE it, didn’t hate it, just liked it. Took it for granted.
After I moved out on my own, I realized how much I had developed a taste for my mom’s kimchee. I’m sure every Korean kid says that (at least if they like kimchee), they like their mom’s best (if their mom makes kimchee, that is). And it might not even be that great, but you get used to it after eating it for 18 years of your life!
When I moved to Boston, I just ate less kimchee because Korean food in Boston is pretty bad, so I just didn’t go to Korean restaurants; Korean grocery stores’ kimchee wasn’t quite right– I’d try buying some and I would never finish it because I didn’t like that taste; and most of my friends were not Korean, so I didn’t feel the need to eat it as much– I was mostly eating Chinese and Vietnamese food.
Also, my mom stopped making kimchee for awhile, so even when I went to visit my parents, I didn’t eat a lot of kimchee. In recent years, though, she picked up making it again, and I’ve been having cravings for her kimchee, which is amazing, by the way. I’ve been on the hunt around here for good kimchee, and once found it at Koreana, a local Korean restaurant, and I bought a container of it after eating there one night. But since then (that was about a year ago!) I’ve been on the hunt.
My mom has tried teaching me how to make kimchee many times throughout the years, but I think I just had a mental block. Kimchee is like the holy grail of Korean cooking! I’ve learned the basic soups and dishes that I like, so I can replicate those things, but KIMCHEE!!!! I’ve just been afraid to try.
But about a month ago, I went to visit a friend (who isn’t Korean, not even Asian!!) who has loved kimchee since I and some other Korean friends in college introduced her to it. She was craving it one time, and she looked up a recipe online and made it! That astounded me! How did a non-Korean person sit down and make some kimchee?!?!?! So when I went to visit, she said she had some cabbage, and asked if we could make it together. I brought a recipe that my mom had given me, and we did it. And it wasn’t as hard as I thought! I left that batch at her place, but it did LOOK right, so I figured it must TASTE right, too!
Last week, I got a cabbage in my CSA, and so I set out to make kimchee again. This time on my own!
And, voila, SUCCESS! A hurdle jumped over! A mountain climbed! A bucket list item checked off!
This year has been full of accomplishments like this:
- doing handstands against the wall in yoga for the first time ever! This was last summer.
- traveling abroad alone for the first time– to Paris back in March.
- quitting my job and setting out to travel!
- playing keyboard in a band and improvising a bit. I’m classically trained and never thought I had what it takes to play pop music on keys!
- starting a blog!
It’s been an amazing year– I’m coming up on my birthday, and I must say that a lot’s happened in the last 12 months. And a lot more to come!
P.S. Here’s the recipe that my mom sent me through email one time for making kimchee. I’ve left in all her grammatical idiosyncrasies:
How to make kimchee
1. wash the bae choo (cabbage)
2. Cut to bite size
3. put in salty brine water and take out let it stay in the salty condition for 3 hours
for one gallon kimchee
chop garlic for one gallon need one whole garlic
2 or 3 medium bae choo
one bunch scallion chop one inch
ginger 2 teaspoon
sugar 1/3 cup
salt 1/4 cup to taste right amount
little shrimp in brine two table spoon chop extra fine
fish sauce 3 table spoon
red ground pepper 1/3 cup to taste wash the wilted bae choo in clean water 2 times
drain water very well.
mix above and put in jar and push down lightly. pray that this kimchee be tasteful. very important. I pray to God , Jesus, Mary , Pancratio, Agnes, Sophia, Philip, Paul and to all the saints.
Winter time need 2 to 3 days to fermentate. summertime 1 to 2 days
every morning you push down lightly to have the juice cover the bae choo.
when you take out kim chee, do not mix top to underneath. it ruin the taste of freshness.