What Kimchi Making Means to Koreans

      November 20, 2017 13:08

      The approach of winter is a busy time for many Korean families as they gather to make kimchi together to help them through the cold winter months, and indeed the whole year ahead. The tradition, known as kimjang, acted as a strong social glue for many centuries.

      The most common variety, savored all over the world, is cabbage kimchi. But in fact cabbage used to be a rare ingredient until the early 20th century. It was mostly used in soup or boiled and seasoned as a side dish, and was one of the specialties presented to the Jongmyo, the royal shrine, when it was in season.

      But thanks to the improvement of crops and the introduction of ingredients like pickled seafood, chili powder and pine nuts, cabbage came into the mainstream from the 1930s. Now, many varieties of cabbage are available year-round.

      In the 1990s, the culture of collective kimchi-making started to disappear amid rapid urbanization, but many people are rediscovering the pleasures of the tradition.

      Despite the fact that it is now easier than ever for Koreans to enjoy cuisines from all around the world, kimchi has remained as a staple in their everyday meals. And many would agree that homemade kimchi remains the most delicious.

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