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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Want To Learn How To Make Kimchee? This Chef Is Hosting Classes In Logan Square To Pass Along Her Family Recipe

"I found this really cool thing passed down to me, and I just wanted to pass it along to other people," home chef Haejung Kim said.

Haejung Kim is hosting her first Chicago class Sept. 24 in Logan Square.
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LOGAN SQUARE — Korean-American home chef Haejung Kim has hosted kimchee-making classes in Los Angeles for years, sharing her 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 prep cabbage for kimchee, chop ingredients and make a spicy paste that gets mixed in at the end. They leave class with a quart-sized jar of homemade kimchee and the knowledge they need to make it themselves, Kim said.

Kim’s first Chicago class is 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 24 at 1825 N. California Ave. You can sign up online here for $65. Spots are limited. Information about future classes will be shared on her Instagram.

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

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

“When I’ve looked around, nobody else is teaching a kimchee class in Chicago,” she said. “If anybody wants to learn, there’s nobody else teaching it, really.”

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

“They would bury it in the ground at my grandma’s farm so that it would slowly ferment in the winter,” said Kim, 48. “I just have a lot of fond memories of cooking with my aunts and grandma.”

Kim’s classes will be “very intimate and cozy” because they’ll be at her home with a maximum of six people.

“Most people can look online and get a recipe. But with ingredients you’re not familiar with, it’s really helpful to have someone walk you through the process,” she said. “Kimchee might be one of those things.”

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

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

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

Kimchee is traditionally a communal 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 of it,” Kim said. “Making it together and then giving it away.”

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

“Some people like it more fresh tasting. Some people like letting it ferment for longer,” she said. “The flavors will evolve. That’s also the interesting thing. It’s always slightly different.”

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