Culinary Culture of Korea

Kimchi-Making Season at its Height

The family of Kim Ok Gyong is busy with kimchi making in Munsu-dong No. 1, Taedonggang District, Pyongyang.

It is the winter kimchi-making season in the DPRK and all families are now busy making kimchi.

It is a long-standing custom of Koreans to make winter kimchi, which is still preserved to add national flavour.

Kimchi is now mass-produced, but most families prepare the winter food in diverse manners to meet the specific tastes of their family members.

So Hyon Jong, a housewife living in Ryomyong-dong, Taesong District, Pyongyang, was fully absorbed in kimchi-making.

She prepared bok choy, radishes and such seasonings as powdered red pepper, garlic, ginger, pickled and raw fish and other subsidiary ingredients to make delicious kimchi which Koreans call the half share of the total food for the season.

The taste of kimchi partly depends on the salting, but seasonings are more important, said So who has special knowledge about seasonings.

“Seasonings vary according to localities. You may use salted shrimp or other pickled fish, and leaf mustard and fruits of Zanthoxylum piperitum and toothache tree as spices in place of ginger. In my home village on the eastern coast, they use walleye pollack and flatfish as seasonings,” said So.

After making seasonings according to her family tradition, she put the stuffing between the leaves of bok choy and piled them inside the sterilized pots.

And she filled the pot with the bok choy heads up to some 15-20 cm below the mouth and then placed a sterilized stone over the outer leaves to prevent air from getting in and sealed the pot.

After three days, she would pour in salty water which has almost the same salinity as the pickled vegetable so as to ferment kimchi properly, she said.

In addition, she made wrapped-up kimchi which she said her husband and son liked the most.

Chestnut, pear, dried squid and beef make the distinctive taste of wrapped-up kimchi, she said, after making 30 kilograms of kimchi in a short time.

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