While my mom was in town this month, she taught me how to make her kimchi recipe. I’ve been feeling an urgency to learn the basics, because I never know when I’ll have the chance again. I can always go off of recipes online, but it can never match the same nostalgic taste of a Korean home cooked meal growing up.
P.S. I started a new recipe blog with my mom called Mom’s Korean Recipes.
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Last Updated: March 19, 2020
Mom's Authentic Kimchi Recipe
A friend of ours recently documented her grandmother’s life story on video, and it made me wish I had done that for my grandma before her Alzheimer’s set in. It’s been really hard to shake the fact that life is so temporary.
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off.”
I used to be impatient about life and be anxious about what’s coming next, but now I feel like everything is passing by so fast. I regret not sitting down with my grandmother to hear her stories. Not just stories of her being a grandmother, but ones as a mother, as a wife, and as a child. I often forget that she once was like me, too.
It also seems that with each passing generation that is raised in the States, we lose more of the stories, we lose more of our culture, and we lose our family recipes.
I’m what they call a 1.5 generation, but probably closer to second generation since I moved to the U.S. when I was two and a half. I hardly speak Korean anymore and don’t cook much Korean food. Making my mom’s kimchi was a bucket list item that I’ve been putting off for a long time, but this month we decided to make it happen!
Pro Tip: Use gloves to keep your hands from getting stained.
Directions for Making Kimchi
- Dissolve salt in 1 and 1/2 cups of water.
- Chop up napa cabbage and soak in salt water for 3-4 hours or until soft. (Can take up to 6 hrs.)
- To make the paste, add the sweet rice flour and one cup of water to a pot.
- Put over medium heat and continue to stir until thickened (about 5 mins).
- Transfer paste to a large bowl and add the korean chili pepper flakes, fish sauce, and sugar.
- Mix well and let the paste cool.
- Add green onions, onions, garlic, and ginger to the paste and mix.
- Once the cabbage is soft, remove from salt water and rinse thoroughly (we rinsed 3x).
- Massage paste into the cabbage and store in a jar.
- Serve immediately if you like fresh kimchi. If you like it more fermented, wait until it fits your tastes.
If you need to see a more detailed process through photos here they are:
Step 2. This is the chopped napa cabbage
Soak the napa cabbage until it’s soft and limp like this
Step 4. This is what the rice flour paste looks after you stir it over heat
Step 7. all the ingredients are mixed into the paste
Step 9. You massage the paste into the kimchi.
- If you don’t like your kimchi really spicy, put less hot chili pepper flakes. I put double the amount my mom puts in (1 cup). She likes her food milder while nothing tastes too spicy for me.
- Depending on the size of the napa cabbage, you might not need to use all the paste. If you have extra paste, you can make cucumber kimchi or try mixing it into other veggies.
- Whenever you take out any kimchi, press down the remaining kimchi and submerge in the liquid or the kimchi will become very bitter and change flavor.
Do you like how I put them in mason jars? It’s my korean heritage combined with twelve years of living in the South. ;)
Let me know if there was anything confusing about the recipe, and I can try to clarify. If you end up making it, let me know how you like it! Do you have any family favorite recipes that you’ve learned lately or want to learn?
Kimchi is definitely an acquired taste. One that Jacob has not acquired yet. haha
Have you tried kimchi before? What did you think? Have you tried making kimchi before? Would love to hear what you think if you try this kimchi recipe.
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Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.