I never thought I would ever make kimchi from scratch. I never thought I would have to. I was a girl in love with the big city, and I was certain that in any of those big cities would also be a Korean market with fresh kimchi to buy. Fate laughingly sent me to rural Germany not once but twice in my life.
From some inner uncontrollable urge, shortly before my second child I was born (nesting perhaps?), I decided to try making kimchi by myself. It was a bit of a disaster. The second time wasn’t much better. Too much salt then too little salt. But by the third and fourth time, I got closer to what kimchi should taste like. For all Korean recipes, my mother was my main source. Funny enough, although she is a great cook, she was never a great kimchi maker. I asked her several times for instruction on how to make kimchi until she finally pawned me off onto the internet: “You know, Jane, if you google kimchi, there are lots of recipes there. I’m sure you can find a good one.” That’s how I found Maangchi. She revolutionised my Korean culinary world. At this point, I had lived in Europe for eight years and my Korean taste buds had been heavily muted. I couldn’t handle the heat anymore and instead of cooking regularly with doenjang and gochujang, I was learning how to cook with cream and deglazing pans with butter and wine.
I initially found cooking Korean too exhausting. To me, it was an all or nothing proposition. A “fix it and forget it” crock pot or casserole approach wasn’t possible. Instead, it would always become an intense daily affair of replenishing banchan (side dishes) plus making soup and rice, until I declared defeat. My family and I moved shortly thereafter to San Diego, California in the US of A. I could finally fulfill my dream of finding a banchan ajuma, a woman who cooked Korean food for us on a weekly basis. When we picked up our oldest daughter at Korean School every Saturday, we would also collect our five or six Glassware containers full of Korean delights. Ever the resourceful friend, I got all of my other Korean friends to order from our banchan ajuma as well.
That was great, especially since my oldest daughter has developed a strong, near fascist preference for Korean food, just as I guess some kids eat only beige foods or carbs-only. I found this amusing until we moved back to rural Germany and left our banchan ajuma along with the big Korean grocery store and store bought fresh kimchi behind.
I have since found a new banchan ajuma and she cooks with more love for my kids than anyone else I know, except maybe my own mother. Yes, you are looking at her right now, or at least her words. I cook Korean food nearly five days a week for my family, and in this blog, I wanted to share the challenges and triumphs in doing so in southern Germany. I’ll be sharing some tips, some queries, some discoveries along with some reviews.
I’m curious as to know who you are and why you are reading this blog, so please do leave me a comment or send me an email at expatkimchi (a) gmail.com!