Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to make Paechu Kimchi in 23 easy steps

1) Receive a shipment of Paechu (Chinese) cabbage, green onions and other veggies from a friend or relative (in this case, Unni's father, who grows his own vegetables in a lot next to his apartment in Waegwan).

2) Allow the vegetables to wilt, wrapped in newspapers, for several days while waiting for a day when both you and Unni are free.

3) After several days, just before the vegetables are about to go bad, finally find a free day to make kimchi; then discover that you have no salt in the house.

4) Run to the store, only to find that they are completely out of the kind of salt needed to make kimchi (굵은 소금, rock salt), and do not expect to get any more in the near future.

5) Savor the irony of the situation; a few weeks ago, when everyone else was frantically hoarding salt out of fear that the world's oceans would become irradiated by the Fukushima disaster, you and Unni both laughed at them for giving in to mass hysteria. Now all the salt is gone and you have to go begging for it from the same people you mocked before.

6) Drive to Uijongbu to cadge some salt from Unni's sister, since it's her birthday and you were going to visit her anyway. Take all the vegetables and supplies you will need to make kimchi. Take the dog along as well, since Unni's nieces have been begging to see her for weeks.
7) Arrive in Uijongbu with your arms full of cabbage, tupperware, birthday cake, and dog, only to discover that no one is home. Let yourself in to the apartment and help yourself to their salt, which they have stored in a huge clay jar on the veranda.

8) Now you are ready to get down to business. Spread out the cabbage on some newspapers on the floor, and cut each cabbage in half lengthwise.

9) Sprinkle salt inside the leaves of each cabbage as you move them to a large tub.

10) Full the tub with enough water to at least submerge all the hearts of the cabbages. If the tub you brought turns out to be too small, use your hands to smoosh the cabbages down until they fit.

11) Go away and do something else for 4-5 hours.


Stealing a swing from a little girl

Picnic at Gwangreung with Unni's neices
Treating Unni's neices to some pat-bingsu
Birthday party for Unni's sister

12) The cabbage has now soaked up the salt and softened up. Drain the cabbage and wash off the excess salt.

13) Here is where you would normally add the yangnyum (base sauce). But it's late and you're tired, so you pack the cabbage in tupperware and stick it in your refrigerator for another day.

15) Wait until around 10 pm the next evening when Unni gets home from work. Take out the cabbage and discover that the two or three on top are now too disgusting to use. Discard them.

16) Get out the ingredients for the yangnyumkochu-karu (red pepper powder), minced garlic, minced ginger, sugar, myeolchi aekjeot (fermented anchovy sauce), daikon radish, green onions, and some sort of pickled baby shrimp mixture that's been in the fridge for a while. Slice the daikon and green onions, and puree the shrimp stuff in the blender.

16) Whoops, turns out you're out of sugar, so use this weird sugar substitute Unni picked up in Hawaii:

17) Mix all the yangnyum ingredients together in a bowl until nice and gooey.

18) Take each cabbage half and rub yangnum all over it, being careful to get plenty in between the leaves.

19) Get halfway through before you realize that you haven't made enough yangnyum. Stop what you're doing, wash the yangnyum off your arms, and go back to mince some more garlic and chop some more vegetables. Fortunately you have enough of all ingredients in abundance.

20) Resume the process of coating the cabbage in yangnyum.

21) When finished, pack the coated cabbages into a large tupperware container and leave at room temperature overnight to ferment. Store the result in the refrigerator.

22) Hesitate to try the kimchi for several days, thinking that something created by such unholy methods and stolen/improvized ingredients was surely never meant to see the light of day.

23) Finally try some, and discover that it is delicious!


  1. Impressive! I've never attempted kimchi despite the fact that my mom makes it for a living. Or maybe it's because of that fact? Her cooking has turned me into a kimchi snob so I'm scared of making an inferior version!

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    Thanks for sharing!