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How To Make Kimchi

How To Make Kimchi

Image Credit: koreanbapsang.com

A staple of Korean cuisine, Kimchi is a traditional side dish to accompany almost any main meal. It consists of fermented vegetables, mostly cabbage and radish. The superfood is rich in Vitamin A, promotes clearer skin, aids with weight loss, and strengthens your immune system. One serving also provides over 50% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C and Carotene, which is essential to good health.

With so many health benefits, such a unique flavour and so easy to make, how could you not add this to your next meal?

Traditional Kimchi

Traditional Kimchi is significant both historically and culturally on the Korean Peninsula. It dates as far back as 40-30 BCE, and was popularised from the 7th century onward in light of the food's durability.

To preserve food for greater periods of time and last through colder weather, vegetables like cabbage were fermented and pickled. Large quantities were stored underground in jars, to maintain the right temperature and ensure fermenting occurred correctly.

Over time, additions and alterations to traditional recipes have changed the way the dish smells and tastes. Very traditional recipes, prior to the 17th century, do not include garlic or chilli, despite these ingredients now defining the dish.

Kimchi is produced by placing cabbage and radish into a brine, amongst spices like Korean sea salt (not unlike Kosher Salt), gochugaru (chilli powder), scallions, garlics, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood).

The overall flavour is both sour and spicy. The fermentation process produces lactic acid that gives it a powerful tangy flavour, not unlike sauerkraut. In recent centuries, with the addition of chilli and garlic, the dish has become increasingly spicy. As a result of these additions, kimchi gets its classically red appearance.

Modern/Hybrid Variations

With more than 200 variations within the Korean cuisine, not including hybrid dishes, kimchi is an ever-changing dish with infinite combinations and alterations. Modern takes on the dish remove the chilli, add in new variations of radish, combine trendy ingredients like kale, and even the addition of fruit!

Baek-kimchi (otherwise known as white kimchi) is a Korean cuisine variation made without chilli pepper, as a mild-spicy alternative. Chonggak-kimchi is cubed chonggak or "ponytail" radish, a popular spicy kimchi, made with white radish for a crisper, spicier finish. Yeolmu-kimchi is a popular choice during hotter months, and is made with young summer radishes. It has a sweeter taste and is faster to prepare since it doesn't need to be fermented.

Fruit Kimchi is a combination of fresh fruit and mixed nuts, salted and submerged in brine to pickle overnight. The result is a strikingly odd balance of sweet and sour. Common fruits used include pears, pineapple, and grapes. It is mostly served as a breakfast accompaniment and can maintain its flavour, like a regular kimchi for weeks on end.

A more popular variation is Kale Kimchi. It is not dissimilar to kimchi made with cabbage, but has a stronger, more resounding bitter flavour. As fermentation takes place, kale breaks down to produce a very strong kimchi with innumerable healthy benefits.

The traditional flavours of kimchi, are often difficult to reproduce and require years of experimentation with the fermentation process. Make it with easy and home, and skip the days of fermenting, with our Korean Kimchi Soup!

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