Want to learn how to make Kimchee? This chef holds classes in Logan Square to pass on his family recipe

LOGAN SQUARE — Korean-American home chef Haejung Kim has hosted kimchee-making classes in Los Angeles for years, sharing his family’s recipe with anyone who wants to learn — and now she’s bringing them to Logan Square.

During the class, students learn how to prepare cabbage for kimchee, chop the ingredients, and make a spicy paste that mixes together at the end. They leave class with a quart-sized pot of homemade kimchee and the knowledge they need to make it themselves, Kim said.

Kim’s first class in Chicago will be on September 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at 1825 N. California Ave. You can register online here for $65. The seats are limited. Information about future classes will be shared on his Instagram.

Kim provides all the utensils and ingredients she buys the night before or the morning of a class. In addition, it offers Korean snacks. She only asks that students bring their own aprons, she said.

Kim walks students through every step and every ingredient, and she lets them know where they can get it all on their own.

“When I looked around, no one else is teaching a kimchee class in Chicago,” she said. “If someone wants to learn, there’s really no one else teaching it.”

Kim grew up making kimchee with her family on her grandmother’s farm in Korea, and the food gives her a “nostalgic feeling,” she said.

“They used to bury it in the soil at my grandmother’s farm to slowly ferment in the winter,” said Kim, 48. “I just have a lot of fond memories of cooking with my aunts and my grandmother.”

Kim’s classes will be “very intimate and warm” as they will be held in her home with a maximum of six people.

“Most people can look online and get a recipe. But with ingredients you don’t know, it really helps to have someone guide you through the process,” she said. “Kimchee could be one of those things.”

Kim asked her mother to teach her how to make kimchee about 10 years ago. She would also invite friends over to practice making kimchee, which led to more formal classes at her home and at a communal kitchen in Los Angeles.

Kim moved to Chicago about a month ago and wants to continue her job.

“I found this really cool thing that was passed on to me, and I just wanted to pass it on to other people,” Kim said. “When you cook ethnic foods, there is a blockage, a bump that you have to get over. And I kind of want to hold your hand and help you get over this hump if you have any curiosity about kimchee.

Kimchee is traditionally a community food. The Korean word “kimjang” describes the act of making and sharing kimchee with a group of people.

“That’s kind of the heart of the community aspect,” Kim said. “Doing it together and then giving it away.”

Learning to make kimchee is a craft, and it doesn’t happen the same way every time, Kim said. But once you learn how to do it, you can do it forever, she said.

“Some people like it fresher. Some people like to let it ferment longer,” she said. “The flavors will evolve. That’s the interesting thing too. It’s always a little bit different.

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