As I lived in the Southern part of Japan for quite some time, South Korea was very accessible. For around $200 I could fly to Seoul, South Korea or even less by boat to Pusan, South Korea. My first trip was eye-opening to all the new foods that Japan did not offer. Southern Japan is known for having a deep culture with its’ international ties with Europe and South Korea. In fact, during World War II many Japanese families sent their children to South Korea for freedom from the war and even the aftermath of it. Many Japanese families were forever split apart between the two countries and still remain this way today.
My Japanese host grandmother was one of those children sent over to South Korea, she in fact told me about this historical occurrence. She still today goes a few times a year to South Korea because she calls it her second home. She has family ties and friends that still live there. Personally I think it was a Grande adventure to go over there to chat with old friends but more so to go discount shopping and eat spicy Korea food.
It was for these two reason I went to South Korea too – besides the fact that I have always wanted to travel there. I went with a friend from Canada that worked for the same company I did. It was his first time there too – so we were really tossed out of our realm but we both are adventurous seekers so it didn’t matter to us. Thankfully we both really fell in love with the country, it’s people and it’s food! Yum!!! I still remember all the foods that we ate while there and I could probably walk to each and every place I went before on the first trip.
One thing I fell in love with is very important to Korean culture – that is of course Kimchi. Many people hear “fermented spicy cabbage” and think “yuck” but I love kimchi! There was not one thing I disliked about South Korea and would totally move back there if asked by a company. It was just an amazing country and I can’t wait to take my family there someday.
For now though, I make my own Korean food, especially kimchi. We used to purchase kimchi from a local Korean grocery store whose owner makes fresh each week. Thankfully I found a recipe on my favorite Korean blogger Maangchi. I love watching her YouTube videos and love making her recipes into vegan options. (See my Vegan Korean Bulgogi) I have made this recipe both non-vegan and vegan and it really doesn’t matter either way, it’s amazing! My mouth waters just thinking about the kimchi sitting in our fridge. The best part is the price. In stores a small jar is very pricy but when you make it yourself, you make a bunch for a small amount. It really doesn’t take that much effort, just down time waiting.
You can find the original recipe HERE.
Here’s the Vegan Version:
1 medium Napa cabbage
1 Korean radishes (I use Japanese Daikon), peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
½ c salt
¼ c soy flour (I didn’t have anything else)
1/8 c sugar
1 ½ c water
2-4 c Korean hot pepper flakes (I had to use 1 c Korean flakes and ½ c gochujang because I didn’t see we were out of flakes and nothing was open…)
½ c vegan fish sauce (otherwise known as vegetarian oyster sauce)
½ med white onion
½ c fresh garlic
½ tbsp ginger
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
1 c shredded Asian Radish (again I used Daikon)
Asian chives, coarsely chopped
You can follow the directions on Maangchi’s website but these are my general directions. Hers are much more indepth.
1. Slice cabbage in half. Dip in water to get wet.
2. Sprinkle with ¾ of the salt. Sprinkle between all the leaves and all that you plan to eat.
3. Let sit for 2 hours. Flip them over. Let sit for another 2 hours.
4. While the cabbage is going sprinkle the rest of the salt on the radish cubes in another bowl. Let sit for the same time as the cabbage.
5. Whirl the white onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor. Place in a large bowl.
6. Put flour and water in a pot on med-high heat. Stir continuously until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat. Let it cool. Add to ground mixture from #5. Add the green onions, Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, chives and daikon. Mix well.
7. After the four hours of patient waiting. Rinse all the salt off the cabbage and daikon. This is important to reduce the sodium level in the kimchi.
8. Chop up the cabbage and toss along with the radish cubes into the large bowl with the other ingredients. Mix well. All the pieces will be completely covered.
9. Place in a sealable container and let sit out for one day on the counter to ferment. Then place in your fridge and eat as you like.