Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Time to prepare long and chilly season

Around this time of the year most of Korean families are getting busy for something yummy: ‘Kimjang’ which means preparing a whole bunch of kimchi for a long winter time here in Korea. This is one of the most important things to do before winter says ‘hi’. Since it is hard to get fresh veggies during the cold winter as well as Koreans enjoy kimchi almost every meal we’d like to take this annual event pretty seriously. Many people buy ready-made kimchi from the market year-round but for this time of the year we still try it ourselves.

Since it is a pretty huge event (Think about the portion. An average of four family members share kimchi about 3 months. Almost every meal we have it. We make lots of different dishes out of kimchi such as kimchi fried rice, kimchi soup and etc.) it requires lots of work and takes almost two full days. So I went down to my parents’ and helped them a bit. Here’s a little story of my handmade kimchi that you might enjoy. 

Here are a few ingredients I was able to take photos. Since I was busy for washing, cutting, chopping and preparing bunch of things I totally forgot to take some photos. But, here are some for you. I apologize for the not-so-great photo quality, but hopefully they’re good enough to interest you.
Those green cabbages are freshly grown in my dad’s garden. Looking pretty healthy, right? All organic and ready for reborning to kimchi. We washed and socked them in the salty water over night. Then rinsed them thoroughly. So here we are.
There were lots of other greens we prepared but this is only one I colud capture. :(

Also, some radishes that my dad picked up from his garden. They look unusually tiny and cute. Seems like the cold weather blocked them from growing fully.

We cut them nicely here. Aww.. look at those. Those look just like baby mittens, don’t they? Those remind me of knitting a pair of mittens soon. (hopefully before the winter says 'good bye'!)

What are those? Do you guess?> Outer leaves of cabbages and leaves of radishes are here on the roof enjoying suntan. They will be dried fully and then nicely saved for some delicious soups later. Nothing should be wasted. J

So finally here’s a fun part! We mixed everything but cabbage. We were making lovely kimchi stuffing with lots of red chili powder. It was a huge portion so dad and I had to work together to mix them thoroughly. It was already looking good and smelling amazing~
And… finally the most demanding yet important part: Getting the cabbages dressed up. Oh, this is so fun, too. Well, I was overly excited about this and totally forgot to record the moment. Ooops!! It could’ve been super fun to share with you though. Anyway, my hands got all red and messy so I guess even if I remembered I might not be able to take photos..

So here’s our kimchi nicely lounging in the cozy kimchi pot. They were heavenly hot and pretty!! They will be happily staying in the kimchi refrigerator a while. (Have you ever heard? ‘A kimchi refrigerator’. It is a refrigerator, but specifically designed to ferment kimchi deliciously. Every Korean household has at least one.)

Today (It’s been about two weeks since we made kimchi.) I finally opened my pot to check out how my kimchi is doing. I am proudly introducing my handmade kimchi 2012. Looks pretty good and smells stronger. The best way to check it out? Some bites! It is still fresh and not fully ripens yet. But, tastes pretty delicious and juicy. I love it and I am happy. Most of all I am so proud!!  

The weather is getting awfully cold day by day (tomorrow we are expecting -13C/8.6F) but I feel so ready to survive during the winter with my lovely kimchi. I will be caving in my cozy atelier and sew, knit, and eating lots of kimchi. Are you ready for your wonderful season, too? Whatever you do stay cozy and creative!