A meal without kimchi is almost impossible in North Korea. A family needs up to 100 kg of Chinese cabbage per person so that the stock lasts until spring time. The cabbage is harvested in autumn before the first frost – by the beginning of November there is the main season. In the kitchen mostly the women make kimchi, but the men mostly carry the cabbage from the kitchen to the pots and then to the cellar.
The cabbage halves are drenched in salty water for two days, then spread with a red pepper sauce and, according to different (clandestine) family recipes, enriched by additional ingredients such as crabs, fish sauce, oysters, garlic and, according to the region, also by apples or pears. Then the marinated cabbage halves are pressed with power into the pot in order to avoid air bubbles. The lactic acid fermentation conserves the cabbage just like the sauerkraut.
The pot with kimchi is stocked in the cellar because it does not froze completely there. It is important that the fermentation gases can escape and that the cabbage be covered with liquid. Instead of Chinese cabbage white beets, radishes or different vegetables can also be conserved this way.
My favourite kimchi is the radish kimchi. Our cook adds big (raw) slices of fish smelling then slightly like rollmops.