Kimchi: A Beginner’s Guide

A centuries-old staple of Korean culture and cuisine, kimchi has been known to delight the taste buds and also be a dish of great nutritional value since it is rich in fiber, low in fat, and packed with essential vitamins. Whether you’re a long-time fan, heard about it in your online cooking classes, or just want to know a little bit more about some tastiest and healthiest foods you can eat, making and eating kimchi is a satisfying experience.

A brief history of kimchi
The ancient peoples were preserving food since the advent of the agricultural age, but the concept of kimchi was conceived around the seventh century. The ancient word for kimchi was “ji,” and Chinese words were later adopted and translated into chim-chae, meaning “immersing vegetables (in salt solution)”.  Since the region’s main food supply was fish and cabbage, the preservation of such food during the winter months when game was scarce and was critical to survival in that period, and with that kimchi arrived.

Types of kimchi
​Kimchi as a dish has evolved since its early days of being simply pickled fish and cabbage. There are literally dozens of different types of kimchi that have cropped up throughout the varying regions of Korea. There is baechu kimchi, or whole cabbage kimchi, which is one of the most popular types of kimchi. A whole cabbage is stuffed with different vegetables, pickled fish and fresh oysters. Baek, or white kimchi, is enjoyed in the northern regions of Korea and is prepared with ginger and garlic strips instead of red pepper powder, which provides a unique flavor to vegetables like watercress, mustard leaves, chestnuts, dates, and mushrooms. Vegetables wrapped up in cabbage leaves constitute bossam kimchi, which uses similar ingredients as the baek tradition, but adds nuts and red peppers to add texture and flavor.

Preparation of kimchi
​The traditional process of making kimchi is quite simple. Prepare your vegetables (Chinese or Napa cabbage and radishes are fine for beginners) by cutting them up in the desired dimensions and immersing the bits into a saltwaterbrine for 12 to 24 hours. Remove the veggies from the solution and rinse thoroughly. Mix in your red chili paste, garlic, ginger, seafood and fish sauce (seafood and fish sauce both optional). Place in a jar or bottle for 24 hours at room temperature to begin the initial fermentation process. Open your jar or bottle to release the accumulated gasses, reseal and refrigerate for another 48 hours before eating.

Share with family, friends and your online culinary school buddies and enjoy!

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