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What is Kimchi?

Learn how kimchi can be a flavorful way to add some spice and fermentation to a diet.

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What is kimchi?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables, typically Napa cabbage, mixed with spices and seasonings. It is a staple of Korean cuisine and is often served as a side dish, but it is also used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.

Kimchi is also used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes, such as stews, soups, and stir-fries. It is a popular and beloved part of Korean cuisine, and it is enjoyed by many people around the world.

What does kimchi taste like?

Kimchi has a tangy and spicy flavor, with a combination of sour, salty, and spicy notes. The main ingredient in kimchi, fermented vegetables, typically has a sour and slightly sweet taste, and the spices and seasonings used in the recipe can add a spicy and savory flavor. The specific flavor of kimchi can vary depending on the ingredients and the fermentation time, but it is generally known for its distinct and bold taste.

What is the history/origin of kimchi?

The origins of kimchi can be traced back to the early days of Korean civilization when it was known as "kyeongkuk" or "kyeongkukjang," a dish made of salted and fermented vegetables. During this time, kimchi was made in large quantities and stored in earthenware jars, which were buried underground to keep them cool and preserve the fermentation process.

As time passed, the ingredients and methods used to make kimchi evolved, and it became a more complex and flavorful dish. Today, there are many different types of kimchi, with each region of Korea having its own unique recipe. Despite its long history and regional variations, kimchi remains an integral part of Korean culture and cuisine. 

How is kimchi served?

Kimchi is typically served as a side dish or condiment, and it is often enjoyed with rice and other dishes. However, there are many different ways to serve kimchi, and it can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. Some popular ways to serve kimchi include:

  • A side dish with dumplings or other types of Korean pancakes
  • In soups and stews: Kimchi can be added to soups and stews to give them a spicy and flavorful kick. Popular dishes that use kimchi as an ingredient include kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) and kimchi soup
  • Added to stir-fries to give them a spicy and sour flavor. It is often used in dishes such as kimchi fried rice or kimchi noodles.
  • A topping for sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs

How do you make kimchi?

Here is a basic recipe for making kimchi, although there are many ways to prepare it:

  1. In a large bowl, combine cabbage and salt. Add enough cold water to cover the cabbage and let it sit for 2-8 hours.
  2. Rinse the cabbage well and drain it. In a small bowl, mix together the chili flakes, sugar, fish sauce, garlic, and ginger.
  3. In a large jar or container, layer the cabbage, scallions, radish (if using), and chili flake mixture. Press down firmly.
  4. Cover the jar or container and let it sit at room temperature for 1-2 days. The kimchi should start to ferment and become slightly bubbly.
  5. After 1-2 days, transfer the kimchi to the refrigerator and let it continue to ferment for at least another week before serving. The kimchi will keep for several months in the refrigerator.

Pro tip- make kimchi in mason jars to make sure it’s tightly compact. Leave about 1 inch at the top to create space for fermentation. 

Whether enjoyed on its own or as a part of a larger meal, kimchi is a flavorful way to add some spice and fermentation to a diet.

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