But then I got a text from my cousin inviting me to their house to make kimchi for the winter. Apparently, in the fall, Koreans make a ton of kimchi to last them through the winter.
So early Sunday morning I got on the subway for the hour and a half ride to my aunt and uncle's house. I originally thought I would be able to learn how to make it and I could recreate the process when I returned to the States. Um, not even possible since it involved a lot of guesstimating, tasting, and adding random ingredients and sauces I couldn't name if my life depended on it. But what an awesome day, especially since virtually no one could speak English. Awesome opportunity to work on my Korean skills, though the day made it evident that I still have a loooong way to go.
We made the kimchi outside my aunt and uncle's restaurant. Their restaurant is very small and they serve just a few dishes. Here's one. I think it's cow intestines or something... I have not yet tried it. But I really think I would because everything my aunt has made has been phenomenal. No joke.
Here's a shot of the inside of the restaurant. Can you see all those cabbages waiting for us outside?
Want a closer look? That's a LOT of cabbages. And notice the radishes to the side as well. We made both cabbage AND radish kimchi.
Apparently the family had spent most of the day before washing all the radishes and cabbages.
We started by watching my uncle cut up all the radishes.
We started with a brown sauce base. Here they are adding the chili power to make it super-spicy.
Next, some radishes were added.
After that, garlic, and other spices were added.
Then they added a secret ingredient that I had no clue went into kimchi... lots and lots of shrimp.
These teeny tiny shrimp...
And then some raw pureed shrimp. Tails, heads, shells and all. How far I've come because a year ago this would've totally grossed me out. But I figure now, it's all mixed in and I've eaten kimchi for a long time and been fine, so might as well just go for it.
Next, some green leaves and onions were added.
Ta-Da! The sauce is ready.
Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of myself making the kimchi. But I put some gloves on and smeared that sauce all over the cabbages. Clearly it was my first time, as I finished about 8 in the time it took that older lady to finish about 20. It was kind of cute though because they packed up the ones I made so I could take them home with me. They're in fridge ready to be eaten. Mark said it's the best kimchi he's ever tasted. :)
Here are the ladies finishing up the last of the cabbages.
Then they used some sauce to make radish kimchi as well.
Here's the final product... that's a LOT of kimchi!
It was kind of funny to me how many random older people just came over to watch us work. They would just stand around and chat and eat pieces of cabbage with the sauce on it. And the older ladies would randomly squat down and get to work. Korea is so funny to me in that way. It seems like people aren't that friendly on the subway and on the street, but older people will come right over to a neighbor's house and dive right in to help make kimchi and stay for lunch without a second thought.
After we finished making the kimchi we all sat down for some kimchi and bossam. Bossam is a steamed pork that is eaten with kimchi. Koreans believe that fresh kimchi tastes best with bossam, so it's kind of a traditional meal to eat when kimchi is made.
After that, I headed home with a ton of (very heavy!) kimchi and very specific instructions on how to store it. Hooray for kimchi!