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Le Cordon Bleu News, 07/07/2014
Kimjang: A closer look at an integral part of Korean identity
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World Culinary Traditions

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Kimjang: A closer look at an integral part of Korean identity
In December 2013, UNESCO added Kimjang to the world’s intangible heritage list. This honor demonstrates the important role played by Kimjang in Korean cultural traditions.

Kimjang, the art of making and sharing Kimchi, remains relatively unknown.  Kimchi, the end product of Kimjang, made of cabbage with spices and fermented seafood is, however, Korea’s national dish!  The Kimjang custom does, nonetheless, play an important role in encouraging greater ties between Koreans and perfectly demonstrates the Korean art of living.

Kimjang is prepared in a yearly cycle.  It is prepared before winter sets in (late November, early December) depending on the temperature which must be below zero degrees.  The ingredients however, come from the four seasons:

  • In spring, Koreans procure seafood for salting and fermenting.
  • Salt, essential for conserving, is bought in summer.
  • Red chili peppers, another key ingredient of Kimchi, are dried and ground in late summer.
  • Lastly, napa cabbage is harvested in late autumn, just before Kimjang season begins.

The ingredients that make up Kimchi have evolved with the country’s history but this is not the case for the Kimjang tradition, which has remained firmly embedded in the Korean way of life.  According to a study by the Korea Rural Economic Institute, almost 60% of Koreans made their Kimchi themselves in 2012, an increase of 6% compared with the previous year

Kimjang encourages sharing and exchange and helps to strengthen family ties.  Each family has its own methods of preparing Kimchi and therefore its own unique flavors, which are passed from generation to generation.  New family members must be willing to adapt and learn the customs of their new family.

Kimjang also encourages solidarity between neighbors.  Kimjang is a tiresome process and this is why neighbors often come to help prepare Kimchi in villages.

Kimjang, which is deeply rooted in the culture and traditions of the country, is an integral part of Korean identity and plays a major role in encouraging solidarity, sharing and exchange.

According to a study carried out in 2011 by the Culltural Heritage Bureau, nowadays 95% of Koreans eat Kimchi at least once a day.  The diversity of dishes made using Kimchi have helped to increase the popularity of this traditional dish.  Le Cordon Bleu Chefs’ Kimchi recipes perfectly demonstrate this:

Chilled cucumber and Kimchi soup Chocolate cake with Kimchi
Chilled cucumber and Kimchi soup Chocolate cake with Kimchi

These two recipes are taken from our book:  Korean Kimchi and Le Cordon Bleu.

Would you like to learn more about another Korean culinary tradition? Discover the "Temple food" by clicking here.



Temple Food

The customs and traditions of Buddhism have always strongly influenced Korean cuisine, so much so in fact that they gave rise to a new style of cuisine: “temple cuisine”. Once just for Buddhist monks, today it can be found on the menus of numerous Korean restaurants. Let’s take a closer look at this new cuisine trend!

Originating in Buddhist temples, “temple cuisine” is wholesome and healthy. Its simple vegetable dishes are light and low in calories.

It is for the most part vegetarian, with the exception of dairy products. Nearly all vegetables, except garlic, leeks, chives, onions and shallots, are used. These five ingredients are known to cause frivolity if eaten cooked and can lead to aggressiveness if eaten raw.

“Temple cuisine” demands creativity in order to produce varied, wholesome and frugal dishes. Each meal provides the opportunity for meditation, for taking ones time and for thinking about how the dish has been prepared, from harvesting the ingredients to the actual making of the dish.


 Would you like to learn more about cuisines of the world? Do not miss our entire range of Le Cordon Bleu Paris “Cuisines of the World” workshops.

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  • On December 4th 2013, traditional Japanese cuisine or ‘washoku’ became part of UNESCO’s heritage. It is more than just a type of cuisine, it is a major part of Japanese culture. ‘Washoku’ is an intangible cultural heritage which is passed on from generation to generation and encompasses a variety of know-how and techniques which are used to prepare and present different dishes.

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