Cooking With Mother: Kimchi (김치) and Ggakdugi (깍두기)

Mother taught me how to make kimchi “the lazy way.” We made very easy, no-frills kimchi and radish kimchi together. Here’s what we did, step-by-step.

Cut

Napa Cabbage

Daikon

Kimchi/김치: Traditionally, napa cabbage kimchi (general old “kimchi”) is only cut in halves or fourths and is stuffed with the pepper materials in between each layer. However, Mother taught me “the lazy way,” which is how she generally makes it. Cut the cabbage into pieces.

Ggakdugi/깍두기: If making daikon kimchi, peel and then cube.

Salt

Salted Cabbage

Kimchi and Ggakdugi: Generously salt using coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt. Salt in layers and leave for a few hours, so water is released.

Season

Gochu (Red Pepper Flakes)

Daikon Radish

Kimchi

Kimchi: After a few hours, rinse the cabbage well several times so that the salt is removed. Add a generous helping of minced garlic, some chopped up scallions, some julienned radish, and oligoldang.

Oli-what?

Oligoldang

This bottle is rice oligoldang. I have absolutely no idea what that means. It’s basically a rice syrup. Mother also used it on pancakes instead of maple or pancake syrup. We were able to find that exact same brand and syrup at our local Korean market, but if you can’t, substitute a couple of tablespoons of sugar.

A Palm of Oligoldang

Kimchi

Ggakdugi: Mother seasoned the ggakdugi differently. She threw a (eww, gross, gross) handful of baby shrimp in the bowl first. Then she added pepper and a little oligoldang.

Shrimp, Complete with Eyes

Ggakdugi

Packing

Finally, Mother packed the two versions of kimchi into plastic containers before storing them in her kimchi fridge.

Finished Kimchi

Results

These were really basic versions of kimchi. I’ll probably try making these myself first, before playing with adding different things (carrots, oyster sauce, etc). They tasted good as-is, though!

Mother said it was important for women to know how to make kimchi, but too many young women don’t know how. I asked her if Sister knew how. “No,” she said, “but she must learn before she gets married.”