Happy New Year!


The Art of Making Kim Chee 김치

Kim chee is one of my favorite side dishes, or as they say in Korean “banchan.” It goes so well with so many foods, enhancing and accenting the flavors of hot rice, noodles, fried rice, soups, stews and meat dishes. I have been buying bottles of them at the supermarket all these years. My favorite type is the Korean style kim chee. I like won bok, cabbage, daikon, cucumber, you name it. So when I heard that my church was having a fundraiser by making traditional kim chee and selling it to our members, I jumped at the opportunity to learn how to make authentic kim chee. What an experience! Patience and perseverance needed. We made over thirty jars of won bok (baechu) and daikon kim chee (ggattugi) and the whole process took a whole day, about eight hours including a lunch break of my favorite Korean pancake with chives, buchim or jijim (chijimi in Japanese).

Some of the ladies of Eden Presbyterian have been making kim chee for thirty years. Sorry, no measuring cups were used. It’s “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” kind of recipe. Only veteran kim chee makers can make enough for that many jars by adding ingredients based on intuition. The key is the kim chee sauce. Of course you also need carefully prepped fresh vegetables too.

Let me tell you a bit about the origin of kim chee before I show you the process through my pictures. Kim chee is also spelled kim chi or gimchi. It is Korea’s pickled dish made with varied seasonings and vegetables. I think we are most familiar with the spicy baechu with the red chili pepper sauce. I was told that Japan makes the most kim chee for export. Of course they have adapted their flavors to the Japanese palate and they even call it by a different name...kimuchi. The taste has similarities but it is definitely different. Apparently there may be some controversy on the authenticity and quality of the products made in Japan according to the Korean community. I can understand the pride that the Korean community has for their product. There is a very long history.

Kim chee has a history that goes back about 3,000 years in Korea. The original kim chee was made with cabbage and beef stock. It wasn’t until the 1500s that red chili pepper was introduced from Europe to make it spicy. And the rest is history. According to the Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul there are some 187 varieties of kim chee. Common seasonings are brine, scallions, red chili pepper, fish sauce, ginger, chives and garlic (you gotta have garlic!)

Kim chee can be categorized by the ingredients that are used, where it is made (region) and the time of year (season). Kim chee made in northern Korea use less salt and red chili. The winter is longer which means that their kim chee will have to last longer and be pickled longer. Salted seafood is not used in the seasoning and the consistency is watery. The kim chee of southern Korea where the winters are shorter use more salt, red chili and salted seafood and fish sauce. It’s thicker. Okay, so based on what I learned, we made kim chee “southern style” (Seoul, actually) because we used salted shrimp paste and fish sauce. Some even had chopped fresh oysters.

I learned that in the old days before refrigerators existed, the vegetables would be harvested in the fall and then families would make enough kim chee to last through the severe winter. Plenty of kim chee would be made in huge clay pots, sealed and then stored in the ground so that it will not freeze. So smart, don’t you think?

And did you also know that kim chee is one of the world's healthiest foods? It is rich in vitamins C, A, B, calcium and iron. They say that it also prevents gastric cancer and aids digestion.

Preparation of the Vegetables

Lots of won bok

Many buckets, daikon and onions

Salt water, brine for won bok

Cut won bok in halves

Clean won bok, add salt in between the leaves

Fill the buckets with salted won bok to be brined

Look at all of this!

Let it sit for a bit, I think a few hours

Rinse three or four times


Process of Making the Sauce

Pot of water and mochiko to make sauce thick over heat

Red chili pepper, fish sauce

Salted shrimp paste

Rock salt


Garlic...plenty, forgot to take photo

Add all ingredients to base sauce

Green onions


Prepping daikon for sauce and ggattugi

Daikon thinly sliced for sauce

Add daikon, onions and chives to sauce

Oops, almost forgot a bit of apple to sweeten sauce

Get the brined and drained won bok and put the sauce in between the leaves.

This is a tedious task but keeps the flavors in tact

Clean the jars

Pack the jars with won bok

Ready to sell!

Ggattugi (Daikon Kim Chee)

Cut daikon in cubes, brine in salt and sugar. Rinse. Drain.

Add sauce before thinly sliced daikon is put in

Lunch is Buchim (Korean Pancake with chives)

This was so good!

I hope that I have been able to share some wonderful insight into kim chee and the art of making it…the authentic way!

By the way, these jars of kim chee were all sold as soon as they were made. They were reserved! Amazing. And very inexpensive, less than twenty for the larger jar of baechu and even cheaper for the smaller jar of ggattugi.

Aloha and Kamsa hamnida. (That’s "thank you" in Korean.)

Honolulu Festival


Start your day walking the trail near Makapu'u Lighthouse, you might see some whales

Oh what a beautiful morning
Oh what a beautiful day
I've got a beautiful feeling
Everything's going my way

These are lyrics from a song from the musical “Oklahoma”. Pardon me for going down my memory lane (long, long ago) but I have fond memories learning all these musical songs in elementary school for a school program during my years in Okinawa. Yes, Mrs. Germany, third grade, she looked like Barbie, real pretty and super nice. And to think that I still remember the songs! Well, I thought of this song when I went on a hike recently to Makapu'u Lighthouse/Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline Trail.

This hike is about 2 miles, it is paved and may be steep in certain areas. The view is majestic. There’s a spot that is designated for whale watching. Humpback whales come to Hawaii for their “vacation.” Actually they breed, give birth and nurse their young in Hawaii. Unfortunately we couldn’t see the whales the day we went out hiking but there’s just so much to see. It’s wonderful!

The Makapu'u Lighthouse, built in 1909, is one of Hawaii’s famous landmarks. Not only is there a whale watching spot, the views highlight the coastline, Molokai and Windward O'ahu. All of this in a short and easy hike!

From Waikiki, go towards Hawaii Kai, past Hanauma Bay and it's on the right. There’s plenty of parking but no restrooms.

You can see Pele’s Chair. Pele, the volcano goddess, is said to have departed Oahu from this point to work on the other islands.

Manana Island (67 acres) or Rabbit Island because rabbits used to inhabit this island.

Moku Hope (11 acres) is a bird sanctuary.

Sealife Park with Ko'olau Mountains as the backdrop is our favorite ocean life attraction.

Makapu'u Lighthouse/Ka Iwi Scenic Shoreline Trail, visit this beautiful place and catch a glimpse of the humpback whales! Aloha.

Honolulu Festival