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This month’s KCC K-Culture lecture – the history and making of kimchi

The upcoming lecture on the history and making of kimchi is sure to be popular. Note that the location is Le Cordon Bleu in Bloomsbury Square, but registration is required via the KCCUK in the normal way.

The KCC has provided a kimchi recipe to whet your appetite. It looks like all quantities are approximate: only about three quarters of the mustard leaf, green onion and watercress specified in the list of ingredients are actually used in the recipe, but as with all recipes you will find your own variations according to taste.


Date / Time: Tuesday 21 April 2015, 18:30 – 20:30
Venue: Le Cordon Bleu | 15 Bloomsbury Square | London WC1A 2LS

Kimchi Lecture banner

On 21st April 2015, the K-Cuisine Lecture will explore Korean Kimchi, a traditional side dish of fermented vegetables, spiced with Korean red pepper powder.

RSVP to KCCUK at 0207 004 2600 or [email protected]

How to make Kimchi

(Serves 4)

Ingredients & Quantity

4.8 kg (2 heads) Korean cabbage, 700 g (4⅓ cups) coarse salt, 4 kg (20 cups) water, 1 kg radish, 100 g watercress, 200 g small green onion, 200 g mustard leaf, 200 g (1 cup) oyster: 6 g (½ tbsp) salt, 400 g (2 cups) water.
Seasonings : 130 g (1⅓  cups) ground red pepper, 100 g (½ cup) salted anchovy juice, 100 g salted shrimps, 12 g (1 tbsp) sugar, 200 g green onion, 80 g (5 tbsp) minced garlic, 36 g (3 tbsp) minced ginger.
Kimchi liquid : 100 g (½ cup) water, 2 g (½ tsp) salt


  1. Trim the bottom and outer leaves of the cabbage (4.5 kg), put a deep knife slit lengthwise and split it into two parts by hands, marinate them in salt water in which half (350 g) of the coarse salt dissolved, and spread remained half of the salt in between the petioles. Let it sit cutting side up for 3 hours, and then another 3 hours after turn over.
  2. Rinse the cabbage under running water for 3〜4 times, drain water on a tray for about 1 hour (3.2 kg).
  3. Trim and wash the radish, shred into 5 cm-long, 0.3 cm-wide/thick. Trim and wash watercress stalks, small green onion and mustard leaf, cut them into 4 cm-long pieces. (watercress 60g, small green onion 150 g, mustard leaf 150 g).
  4. Wash the fresh oyster softly in mild salt water and drain.
  5. Mince the solid ingredients of salted shrimps finely. Soak ground red pepper in the salted shrimps juice and salted anchovy juice.


  • For the good taste and better nutrition of the winter cabbage Kimchi, it may be fermented under the ground at 10C for around 3 weeks.
  • Fresh shrimps and/or glue plants may be added into the Kimchi.


  1. Add soaked red pepper to the shred radish, mix well, add remained seasonings, and mix well again. Add vegetables and oyster, mix softly and season with salt (1.5 kg).
  2. Pack the seasonings in between each leaf of the cabbage, fold over the outer leaves to hold the seasonings.
  3. Place it in a jar one by one until 70〜80 % of the jar filled, cover the top with marinated outer leaves.
  4. Make Kimchi liquid by adding some water and salt into the Kimchi mixing container Then finish by pouring Kimchi liquid into the jar and pressing down.

The Origins of Kimchi

For as long as mankind has been cultivating they have enjoyed the nutritional elements of vegetables. However, the cold winter months, when cultivation was practically impossible, soon led to the development of a storage method knowns as ‘pickling’. Rich in vitamins and minerals, kimchi was conceived in Korea around the 7th century.

Use of Hot Red Pepper Powder

Many years ago, kimchi was merely regarded as a salted vegetable. However, throughout the 12th century, with the addition of several spices and seasonings, it grew steadily in popularity. It wasn’t until the 18th century that hot red pepper was finally used as one of the major ingredients for making kimchi. In fact, the very same kimchi as we know it today has retained the same qualities and cooking preparations that prevailed ever since it was first introduced.

Major Historical Periods of Korea

The development of kimchi is reportedly rooted in the agrarian culture that began before the era of the Three Kingdoms on the Korean Peninsula. Due to the cold Korean winters, they had to come up with the storage technology for vegetables as a means of securing food supplies.

Goryeo kimchi

Kimchi during the Goryeo Dynasty

Although there are records that clearly indicate the root of kimchi’s discovery, cabbage was first mentioned in an oriental medicine book titled ‘Hanyakgugeupbang’. There were two types of kimchi – jangajji (pickled vegetables) and sunmu sogeumjeori (salted radish). In this period, kimchi began to receive new attention as a processed food enjoyable regardless of the season as well as storage food for winter. It is suspected that the development of seasonings at that time enabled spicy kimchi to appear.

Kimchi in the Joseon Period

It was after foreign vegetables, in particular, cabbages (brassica) were introduced and used as the main ingredient that the current form of kimchi was conceived. Hot red pepper was imported to Korea from Japan in the early 17th century (after the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592), but it took roughly 200 years until it was actively used as an ingredient in kimchi. Therefore, it was only during the late Joseon period that kimchi became associated with its red colour.

Modern Kimchi

Kimchi has been scientifically proven to be high in nutrition and is often recommended as a valuable food source both at home and abroad. In fact, there has been a significant increase in kimchi exports in recent years. Korean immigrants to China, Russia, Hawaii and Japan first introduced kimchi abroad, and have continued to eat kimchi as a side dish. It gradually gained popularity even among foreigners. Accordingly, kimchi may be found wherever Koreans live. In America and Japan especially, where relatively many Koreans live, packaged kimchi is easily available. In the past, the production and consumption of kimchi was confined to Korean societies, however, in recent years it has become a globally recognized food


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