We walked up a few flights of stairs into a small apartment building in some residential area of Seoul, Korea, a sprawling metropolis of 10 million people. Within that population of millions, we were invited into the home of a Korean man named Kim, where he and his wife taught us how to make kimchi in Seoul, the Korean staple of life.
Kimchi is a side dish for almost every meal in Korea. It is fermented, and red, and pungent, and spicy. It is an acquired taste, but I have certainly caught the flavor for it. We were told “we eat kimchi with every meal.” In fact, the people we met in Seoul were surprised that we had even tried kimchi before, let alone that I actually like kimchi. Although, I don’t think I could eat it at every meal.[/box]
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How to Make Kimchi, Quick
Making kimchi is a process, and takes time, often 9 to 12 hours. We had about 30 minutes. So, we did an express version to squeeze our how to make kimchi lesson into our short amount of time.
I put on my cotton apron and tied a cotton cooking hat around my forehead. Firmly feeling like I was dressing the part of a Korean grandmother, we went to work.
We cut up the radish and green onions, and mixed up the sauce, which included gochugaru, or the bright red hot pepper flakes that gives kimchi is notable color.
Some other interesting ingredients included fish sauce, a glutinous rice flour, and the secret ingredient I was not expecting, pear, which lends a sweetness to the kimchi.
Our guide, Grace, told us how it is common to learn how to make kimchi once you are married. Before that, her mother would make the kimchi. Even now, with times changing, often times people will buy the kimchi that they need. Or, will spend a day making it just before the winter, preparing large amounts, which they store through the winter months.
See what other travelers have to say about the Korean Cultural Experience and Kimchi Class on TripAdvisor
How to Make a Kimchi Baby
After making the sauce, we placed our bright yellow rubber gloves on to mix the sauce by hand, making loads of moist, sponge-like, sounds as we squished the sauce mixture between our fingers. Then we layered the sauce between each of the large, salted cabbage leaves. We ensured the cabbage was covered by sauce, and soppy wet.
Then, our host, Kim, asked us to raise up our kimchi so he could take a photo. He was like a proud grandfather, asking us to cradle our giant, red, sloppy kimchi babies with pride. And, I was pretty proud.
I know that we only learned the easiest part of how to make kimchi, but even so, I learned the ingredients, some of them very surprising, and felt I had the inside scoop on how to make kimchi.
We were supported by Viator Travel in our attempt to learn how to make kimchi, as part of their Korean culture tour, my opinions are my own.
Where to Stay When Visiting Seoul
Our favorite two properties in Seoul, both happen to be Marriott Properties.
The Courtyard by Marriott Times Square, where contemporary rooms start around $150. And, the hotel is conveniently located near the Times Square shopping center, with loads of dining options (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book now)
JW Marriott Seoul, where luxury rooms start around $200. And, the hotel is located above the main bus station and a small shopping center. Other activities are a quick cab ride away (Check out Trip Advisor Reviews here | Book now)[box]
Heading to Seoul?
Where to Stay in Seoul: Get more hotel recommendations here.
What to Eat in Seoul: Korean BBQ and Kimchi
What to do in Seoul: Book a Korean DMZ Tour or a river cruise.
Find more South Korea posts here.
Learn more: Get a Top 10 Seoul Eyewitness Guide or the Michelin Guide to Seoul from Amazon.[/box]
Find the best deal on hotels in Seoul, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say about traveling in Seoul at TripAdvisor
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together they have traveled to over 70 countries.