Kimchi and Gimjang

Written by on April 15, 2013 in Lifestyle

We hope everyone had a lovely Easter and after all those Easter eggs and hot cross buns, we’re sure everyone is now looking to get fit again! Luckily for us, research has recently shown that kimchi is great for all those looking to lose weight! Our friend Kiejohas always said that kimchi has always been recognised by the UN as one of healthiest dishes in the world and now researchers have discovered that kimchi could help you shift a few pounds! According to this article, kimchi is low-calorie and full of goodness for your body, and it is believed that “if a person eats some kimchi with every meal, it’s possible for them to lose five kilograms (about 11 pounds) in a month.” Sounds good but we are not sure exactly how accurate this is so please don’t go too overboard as kimchi can contain quite a lot of salt!

Kimchi definitely seems to be THE trendy food item of London Town at the moment and with this recent news no doubt the popularity of kimchi is going to go through the roof! So far this side dish has appeared in the Guardian’s hipster food glossary, thanks to the amazing people at Kimchi Cult for putting it in a burger, an excellent way of introducing this pickled delight to the UK masses. If you want to give it a try, Kimchi Cult has just announced they will be appearing at Camden pub The Black HeartWednesdays to Saturdays for 6 months! As well as their usual appearance at Kings Cross every Wednesday lunchtime. The Metro has also written about the art of pickling becoming fashionable again with kimchi leading the way and even The Daily Mail has put it in their 2013 food trends list but warns of smelly fridges and the super spiciness. So here at Korean Class MASSIVE, we took a closer look at Korea’s most iconic national dish and possibly the big food hit of 2013.

Kimchi cult’s delicious Bulgogi steak and kimchi hot sub. Read our post HERE

Kimchi (김치) is a traditional fermented Korean dish. Most recognisable is the Baechu Kimchi, which is basically cabbage kimchi. The kind of cabbage used is called napa cabbage or as the UK supermarkets like to call it, Chinese leaf. The cabbage is pickled, then marinated in a concoction of spicy chilli powders, garlic, ginger and other richly flavoured ingredients to create the refreshingly tangy dish that we know and love today.

Kimchi is normally made fresh during the Summer months from seasonable vegetables but when it comes to wintertime, South Koreans would have a gimjang (김장) where large amounts of kimchi is made and preserved for the Winter. This is normally done during the tenth moon of the year, which means around October time. Last year, thanks to the lovely language school at SOAS, we got the chance to take part in a gimjang and learn how to make kimchi! The class was lead by Hyungsoo Yim, who was a very fun and encouraging teacher, as well as being a renowned chef.

Soas Korean kimchi class

Mr Hyungsoo Yim

Here is the Baechu Kimchi recipe we followed:

Prep:
4.8kg (2 heads) kimchi cabbage, 700g coarse sea salt, 4 litres of water

Seasonings:
130g chilli powder, 100ml fish sauce, 100g shrimp paste, 12g sugar, 80g finely chopped garlic, 36g finely chopped ginger

Kimchi liquid:
100ml water, 2g salt

First step is the preservation/pickling of the cabbage (Chinese leaf) to prepare it for the kimchi process and remove all excess water. The cabbage is split into quarters, and make sure you only cut through the hard stem parts then use your hands to then rip through the leafy part of the cabbage. Salt is then rubbed into the cabbage and left to soak in water. A tip for soaking the cabbage is to make sure you place them with the heart of the cabbage facing upwards. It is suggested that you leave it to soak for 4-5 hours, and most kimjangs would do this the night before. Luckily this lengthy and boring part of kimchi making was pre-done by the lovely chef and his helpers and we got to work on some “here’s some we pickled earlier” cabbage.

Now we make the marinade. You take all the ingredients listed in seasonings and mix it into a paste form. The amount of chilli powder can be altered depending on how spicy you want it/how spicy you can take. And now comes the fun part, make sure you wear gloves as it gets messy!

The marinade is rubbed into the preserved cabbage. Make sure you get it into all the leaves.

The cabbage is then rolled up to leave to marinate.

 After all that hard work we got the chance to taste some of the kimchi. This is probably the freshest kimchi we would ever get to taste and it was delicious. Depending on how well rubbed in the marinade is, some kimchi was nice and spicy, and some was kick you in the nuts spicy. And because it was so fresh, you could still taste the sweetness of the cabbage stalk. Delicious! 

We had lots of fun taking part in the kimjang and we want to thank SOAS for allowing us to attend this event. Hopefully we’ll be brave enough to try and hold a kimjang of our own one day! And we hope this post helped all those looking to try their hand at some homemade kimchi! Kimchi is delicious and we’re so happy to finally see it in the spotlight. Although kimchi is an acquired taste, it’s well worth a try, and for those not feeling too adventurous, why not try it in some delicious pajeon (pancake) or a nice kimchi bokkeumbap (fried rice). We would also thoroughly recommend kimchi jjigae, it’s very warming during these never ending Winter months!

If you are a fan of Korean food, make sure you keep an eye out for Kimchee to go, from the guy who bought you Wasabi and Holborn restaurant Kimchee, he now brings us convenient Korean food, we can’t wait for the take away kimbap!

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About the Author

Korean Class Massive

Blogging about everything from Korean events, art and music to films, food and Kpop, Korean Class MASSIVE write about all things Korean happening in the UK. Consisting of Emma, a film student and Korean film enthusiast, Annabel, an Ancient History graduate, and Sarah, a keen amateur photographer, they are currently all studying Korean in London and aim to spread their love for all things Korean in the UK.