Kimjang (김장 ) is the traditional process of preparing big quantity of kimchi at once. In order to prepare kimchi for the winter, a big gathering of people takes place, involving family members or neighbors.
This event is an important Korean tradition and its origins are very well rooted in the past when it was hard to find fresh vegetables during winter (such as chinese cabbage). Because of that and because the importance that kimchi has in the Korean food tradition, people used to prepare huge quantity of it before the cold season.
Kimchi is prepared usually towards the end of October or beginning of November, before the cold weather starts and it is a demanding job that involves many people. Because of the amount, family and neighbors help each other and this makes Kimjang an important event of Korean social life.(picture from http://soomyland.com/reserve/view.php?no=92)
Koreans are very organized and most of the times the task are divided equally among people involved. These tasks include washing and salting the cabbages, preparing spicy sauce (made by chopped radish with chilly powder and fish source that is named 속 /Sok/ which means ‘inside ‘ ) and spreading the spicy sauce between the cabbage leaves.
Nowadays families organize small scale gathering (with less people and cabbages involved!) but the original spirit is still intact: helping each other and share the kimchi among friends and relatives.
In the next post we will give the recipe for a perfect kimchi to try at home!