Kimchi? What is it?
Have any of you heard of kimchi, the Korean fermented food that many doctors all over the world named as one of the “top five healthiest foods in the world?”
There are many varieties of Kimchi, but to be honest, Jjigae ( gimjjigae ) also known as Kimchi stew or Kimchi soup is probably the most common way to consume some.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish, and we would add, one of the most emblematic Korean traditions, made of fermented vegetables, the most frequent of which are the two-pack coleslaw and daikon radishes .
It can be eaten alone or with white rice, but it is also incorporated into other traditional dishes, such as porridges, soups and pastries. Kimchi fried rice is also a great way to use a few remaining steamed rice.
North Korean variety is less spicy and red than the kimchi of South korea. One can serve it with Korean tacos, sandwiches, bibimbap rice bowls, or as a side dish with any food.
Kimchi is known mainly as a spicy fermented cabbage dish worldwide, but currently there are more than 200 varieties and the list continues to grow. There are hundreds of varieties of this dish made with various vegetables as the main ingredients.
Types of Kimchi
Mak kimchi, or the simple kimchi, is made with sliced cabbage, radishes and shallots and a spicy paste of red pepper, garlic, ginger, sugar and fish sauce, salted shrimp or kelp powder.
But Tongbaechu-kimchi, also knows as napa cabbage kimchi, is the iconic Kimchi that Koreans love most. When no other name is added to it and is referred to just as “kimchi”, then it’s all about Tongbaechu-kimchi. Compared to the Mak Kimchi, Tongbaechu Kimchi uses whole cabbages and has the other ingredients stuffed in between leaves, while Mak kimchi has the cabbage leaves cut into pieces and mixed together with the rest of the ingredients and seasoning.
But no matter which recipe we are talking about one thing is certain, and that is the Kimchi is crazy popular. To figure out just how much, keep in mind that South Korea uses more than 2 million tons per year, or nearly 80 pounds/ ~36 kg per person. I think that says it all.
You can buy kimchi at Korean or Asian grocery stores, but it is actually relatively easy to do it at home. There are so many recipes all over the internet, you just need to pick one and give it a try. We will also present a Tongbaechu Kimchi recipe towards the end of this article.
Keep in mind that many Korean side dishes presented as part of a meal can also be used in a wide range of boiled foods such as fried rice or kimchi quesadillas. And yes, do not forget that Kimchi is all about condiments. Gochujang is a common condiment for foods such as : Korean grill, which includes pork and beef, and of course for Kimchi.
If you like to experiment and for more creative dishes, consider filling a hamburger or sandwich with kimchi or mixing some kimchi into scrambled eggs for a little kick. I am sure you will love it!
How is made?
Kimchi is for people in South Korea just as ketchup is for the rest of the world. You can eat a meal without it, but it tastes so much better when you add it in the mix. Of course, some people might not like the garlic stinky smell of it from the beginning, but they just need to try it once to realize just how addictive it is. And let’s not forget, how healthy!
Kimchi, no matter the recipe, is fully stuffed with vitamins A, B and C, as well as many phytochemicals which are like steroids for the immune system. It also contains lactic acid and more importantly, lactobcillus bacteria, which helps with digestion and prevents developing infections of the gastrointestinal tract.
But enough with the chit-chat and let’s see how we can make it at home. In order to do that, MYKSOUL.com picked up one of the best recipes available on the internet, courtesy of Mrs. Hyosun Ro, the amazing lady behind koreanbapsang.com.
- 1 large napa cabbage about 5 to 6 pounds, or 2 small (about 3 pounds each)
- 1 cup Korean coarse sea salt for making kimchi
- 5 cups of water
- 1 pound Korean radish mu/moo
- 1/4 Asian pear optional
- 3 – 4 scallions
- 1 tablespoon glutinous rice powder* 찹쌀가루
- (*Mix it with 1/2 cup water simmer over low heat until it
- thickens to a thin paste and cool. Yields about 3 – 4 tablespoons.)
- 1/2 cup Korean red chili pepper flakes gochugaru, 고추가루, (adjust to your taste)
- 1/4 cup saeujeot salted shrimp, 새우젓, finely minced
- 3 – 4 raw shrimp about 2 ounces, finely minced or ground
- 3 tablespoons myulchiaekjeot fish sauce, 멸치액젓
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds optional
- 1/2 cup water or dashima dried kelp broth
- 2 large bowls or pots 7 – 8 quarts
- a large colander
- kitchen gloves
- 3/4 – 1 gallon airtight container or jar
For further instructions about how to prepare this amazing dish, please visit koreanbapsang.com
정말 고맙습니다 효선!