To read this story in Korean, click here.
A national holiday dedicated to Korean kimchi? Why not?
The spicy fermented vegetable dish is a staple of Korean cuisine in both South Korea and the United States.
The campaign was picked up by the Korean American Association of New Jersey, which launched this Saturday on Jan.
For the spicy side dish, vegetables such as napa cabbage, radishes or cucumbers are fermented and then seasoned with spices made from red pepper powder, garlic, ginger and spring onions.
The story continues under the gallery
“Kimchi is our traditional food,” said Han Ik Son, the association’s president, who said the dish is considered the national dish of South Korea.
The group based in Palisades Park wants November 22nd to be declared Kimchi Day in the Garden State.
More than 168,000 New Jersey residents can claim Korean ancestry, according to the association, although Son estimates the number could be closer to 200,000 if students and other visa visitors are included. Approximately 70% of the state’s Korean population resides in Palisades Park, Fort Lee, and other communities in Bergen County.
37,000 pounds a week
Next door in Passaic County, Kim Chee Pride Inc., based in Prospect Park, produces over 37,000 pounds of the groceries for sale each week in supermarkets in the eastern United States
According to company president James Lee, kimchi is becoming increasingly popular as a healthy menu alternative beyond Korean consumers. Fermentation produces bacteria that are believed to be good for the digestive system, he noted.
“Our main customer is non-Koreans,” said Lee. “You know the benefit of kimchi: you have lots of good probiotics.”
California lawmakers passed a resolution commemorating the food in August, according to the Korea Herald. The measure promoted and championed by kimchi makers by California MP Steven Choi, which was introduced as “Kimchi Day” on November 22nd, according to the World Institute of Kimchi, a trade group. South Korea celebrated its first Kimchi Day last year.
Kimchi is made through lacto-fermentation, the same biological process used to make sauerkraut and cucumber. Vegetables are soaked in brine, which draws water out of the food and helps in preserving and seasoning.
Asian cinema:Marvel’s “Shang-Chi” arouses pride and controversy among Asian film fans Maria Chao
Harvest moon:Overjoyed with Chinese moon cakes – a staple of the mid-autumn harvest festival
The dish is more than 3,000 years old when it was fermented in pots and then buried underground. When Koreans started urbanization, there was no place to bury and store kimchi, so they started using separate refrigerators to mimic subterranean temperatures and ensure the vegetables lasted longer.
Kimchi is served in restaurants and with daily meals and is available in Asian markets such as Korean chain H Mart, which has several variations in their kimchi bars. Many Korean households have a separate kimchi refrigerator specially designed to meet temperature storage requirements and aid the fermentation process.
Korean festival schedule
Visitors to the Bergen County Festival, which runs from 10 am to 10 pm, have the opportunity to make their own kimchi. The event is free and public.
The congregation celebrates Chuseok, a South Korean holiday that falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar on the full moon, which this year was on September 22nd. It’s a Korean and Asian Thanksgiving that is celebrated by eating moon cake.
The event features cultural performances, K-pop dance and singing competitions, and performances by The Korean singers Changhwan Lee and Na Unha. I Love Dance, the K-pop group, will also perform.
This is the 20th year Koreans are celebrating a fall festival in New Jersey, Son said. Last year’s celebrations were muted with about 200 attendees due to COVID-19, he said. More than 1,000 are expected this year, with kimchi making being the new twist.
The goal is to celebrate Korean culture, said Michelle Song, executive vice president of KAANJ. It is a voluntary commitment in which around 50 members contribute their time and expertise. The organization is keeping the event open to the public while charging sellers fees, Song said, adding that the board would be happy to be financially balanced.
Korean culture is very fashionable right now, she said, pointing to the popularity of K-pop, K-beauty, and K-drama. Kimchi’s day also seems to have come.
Mary Chao 趙 慶 華 covers the Asian community and real estate for NorthJersey.com. For full access to the latest North Jersey news, subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: [email protected]