Seoul Lantern Festival & Kimchi Festival
I walked along Cheonggyecheon (청계천) stream last Wednesday night, to see the colorful lanterns on display for the Seoul Lantern Festival. Alex and I went last year, on a Friday, and it was CROWDED! Wednesday wasn’t too bad, except it was very cold and windy (the temperature plummeted last week). My favorite display was of … pandas! There were actually several displays related to China.
Friday, I attended the Seoul Kimchi Festival and learned how to make kimchi! First you have to quarter, wash and soak the vegetable (usually cabbage, but can be turnip, cucumber, etc.) in salt water, and then let that sit for a few days. Then you make the red pepper paste and marinate your cabbage (this step is very messy and involves wearing plastic, disposable kimchi gloves). Next, you bundle up the cabbage, put it in a container, and put it in your kimchi fridge (yeah… we don’t have one) for at least five days (for it to ferment), before eating. You can leave the kimchi longer, depending on if you like fresh or older kimchi (apparently everyone has a different preference). Luckily, I was going to an event, so I was able to store my kimchi in my friend’s kimchi fridge (thank goodness! The smell definitely permeates into everything in the fridge AND whenever you open the refrigerator door, you get a strong whiff of kimchi. We learned this the hard way, last year! That is why most Koreans have a special, designated kimchi fridge!).
After making kimchi, we made some seasoned rice balls and ate those with already-made kimchi.
Fall is THE time to make kimchi. Grocery stores have piles of cabbage and turnip, containers and gloves. It’s a very Korean tradition, and I’m glad I had the chance to make kimchi!