Stories from the Lab: Discovering Kimchi—and Some New Ingredients Too!

Hi everyone! When last we met, my classmates and I learned how to make homemade sausage.

This time round, we explored Korean cuisine by making kimchi in one of our lab experiments. This was the first time I had made kimchi—and I learned a lot about Korean culture and spices along the way.

Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, and there are more than 300 different types and varieties in the country! It consists of cabbage and pickled vegetable and spices, and is eaten at nearly every meal, year-round. Kimchi has been in existence for thousands of years, and fermenting techniques and recipes have been passed down for centuries. It has several health benefits from its fermentation and superfood properties, including anti-aging, skin health, and brain health promotion.

To make the Kimchi, we used traditional Korean ingredients and spice blends.

  • 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder
  • ½ cup Gochugaru
  • 1/3 cup Saeujeot
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons Myulchiaekjeot
  • Korean coarse sea salt
  • 1 large Baechu
  • 3-4 Scallions
  • 1 Pound Moo

Some of these ingredients may be new or foreign to you (as they were to us), so here’s a quick rundown:

Gochugaru (고추가 Korean translation) is a form of Korean red chili pepper flakes. It has a sweet, spicy, and smoky flavor profile.

Saeujeot (새우) is salted and fermented mini-shrimp.

Myulchiaekjeot (멸치젓) is a salted and fermented anchovy fish sauce.

Baechu (배추김치) is Napa cabbage.

Moo () are Korean radishes.

First we cut the cabbage lengthwise and salted it overnight. The salting process is a delicate technique. If not salted properly, the cabbage becomes runny and goes sour. The next day, the seasoning and liquids were mixed, the scallions and the radishes were cut and added, and the mixture sat in a bowl for 30 minutes.

We then spread it onto the leaves of the cabbage and put them into fermentation storage containers.

making kimchi

We let the kimchi “ripen” for a couple of days, and that was it. Kimchi is actually pretty easy to make. I was surprised at how simple the process was. Plus I got to learn some Korean translations of foods along the way.

Next time, I put the finishing touches on the culinary science degree with my senior thesis project. Can’t wait to tell you all about this amazing experience!

Majestic Lewis-Bryant