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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Making Kimchi: A Disaster Story

Kimchi is a traditional Korean fermented side dish made of vegetables. My favorite kind of kimchi is made of napa cabbage. This unique Korean side dish was an acquired taste for me from being constantly surrounded by those who eat it. Now I always have a container of kimchi ready to eat in the fridge.

Kimchi has a sweet, sour, and fermented taste that can be overpowering to a foreign palate. Also, the abundance of ginger, garlic, onions and chili powder makes it very pungent. Kimchi was created to preserve vegetables for the long cold winters. Now it's a great complement to grilled meats all year round, and a definite must when we have our Korean BBQ with beef short ribs.

Mixing the napa cabbage with ginger, garlic, white onions, green onions, chili powder, salt and sugar. 

Mixing the napa cabbage with ginger, garlic, white onions, green onions, chili powder, salt and sugar. 

I always buy kimchi from the Asian supermarket. This time around, I decided to take a stab at making it myself. I turned this into my project with my daughter, who thoroughly enjoyed washing the napa cabbage, soaking it in salt water and ringing it out like there was no tomorrow.

Allyson, 3, washes sliced napa cabbage.

Allyson, 3, washes sliced napa cabbage.

After three days of fermentation, we finally got to taste the fruit of our labor. The result? It was awful. It was so salty that it was inedible. It had to be thrown out. One bite would have landed you in the hospital for dehydration. Somewhere in the process, I or my daughter, may have spilled a container of salt into the spices. It was a great experience with my daughter nonetheless, but in the future, I will stick to getting my kimchi from the supermarket for instant consumption rather than waiting a few days.

Allyson mixes the napa cabbage with salt.

Allyson mixes the napa cabbage with salt.

Allyson rings out the salty napa cabbage.

Allyson rings out the salty napa cabbage.