So What is the Korean Kimchi?
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Kimchi (김치) is the main staple in Korean cuisine and you can say all of the Korean cuisines revolve around Kimchi.
Kimchi is a collective term for fermented vegetable dishes that have been seasoned, and it is usually fermented with spices.
Annual Family Kimchi Making Event (김장)
Almost all Korean households are looking forward to having this event. Sometimes it is a village event in the community.
Kim-Jang(김장) is an annual kimchi-making event preparation for the cold winter months. Most of the time, relatives come together and making a large quality of kimchi while family members are having a good time together in the house.
You can often see over 100 to 500 cabbages delivered by the truck to Korean households and neighborhood or relatives rotated their Kim-Jang making schedules to help each other.
In Korean homes, there can never to too much kimchi because many of the dishes are made with kimchi such as kimchi jjigae, kimchi, mandu, kimchi bibimbap, kimchi friend rice, and any more.
I usually make it with 10 cabbages at a time because it is easy to keep them in the refrigerator.
The history and origin of kimchi go back to the early period of the Three Kingdoms (37 BC - 7 AD).
According to a Chinese historical text published in 289 AD, it mentions that ' The people of Goguryeo (고구려) are very skilled in making fermented food such as fermented wine, fermented soybean paste, fermented fish and salted fermented vegetable dishes.
Also according to the Korean history book, Samguk Sagi (삼국사기), indicated that people of the Korean peninsula often enjoyed the fermented pickle during these times.
Throughout human history, the pickling of vegetables was an ideal method to preserve the lifespan of foods.
What are the Ingredients of Kimchi?
Depends on the region where it made from, the ingredients of kimchi can differ greatly.
There are many types of Kimchi in Korea. Because it was originated from pickled vegetables, kimchi varieties are determined by the main vegetable ingredients and the mix of seasoning used to flavor the kimchi.
Each Korean household has its own kimchi recipes and an often spicy meal is a source of pride. The Kimchi recipes are driven by the regional flavors of their hometown and local ingredients.
Baechu (배추), known as Napa Cabbage
But main ingredients of kimchi is made with Baechu (배추), known as Napa cabbage, hence the name Baechu kimchi (배추 김치). They are the most commonly used kimchi vegetables.
Korean Brining Salt (왕소금, 굵은소금)
It is also known as the Korean Sea Salt is used mainly for the initial salting of Napa Cabbage. The main purpose of salt is to develop flavors in fermented the vegetable.
Seasonings - Gochugaru- Chili Powder (고추가루)
Korean Chili powder or flakes are used in making a Kimchi. It usually refers to the seedless and vibrant red in color. Traditionally made from sun-dried Korean red chili peppers and it has complex flavors with spicy, sweet, and slightly smoky tastes.
Salted Seafood - Jeotgal (젓갈)
To add extra flavor, people use salted seafood known as Jeotgal.
But depends on the region, Korean use fermented salted seafood (젓갈), fermented salted shrimp (새우젓), and fermented fish with anchovies(멸치액젓) to aid the fermentation process.
Other Kimchi Vegetables
Napa cabbage often replaces with Korean Radishes and Ponytail Radishes.
Other Main Ingredients
Commonly used seasoning includes scallions, garlic, gingers and sugar are added to flavor the kimchi.
Different Varieties of Kimchi
- Baechu-Kimchi (배추김치): This is often called Kimchi. Baechu-Kimchi is mostly served as Ban-Chan (Side dish), made with whole Napa cabbages that are coated with a mixture of rice pastes, chili peer flakes, garlic, onion, fermented seafood, fish sauce and ginger.
Bossam-Kimchi (보쌈 김치)
- Baek-Kimchi (백김치): Baek-Kimchi means white Kimchi. This kimchi is unique among the kimchi family because it is not added with Gochu-Garu (Red Chill flakes) which are traditionally used in the making of kimchi. All the ingredients are the same as typical Kimchi but it is left to ferment in a salty brine.
- Kkakdugi (깍두기) : Kkak-dugi is one of the common ban-chan (side dishes) served in Korean restaurants. This kimchi is made using radishes (Mu) as the main ingredients instead of cabbage. The radishes are cut into little cubes and coated in a spicy chili powder, onion, and ginger before left to fermentation.
Yang-Baechu-Kimchi (양배추 김치)