Koreans have that fermented red stuff nearly everyday, and when tasting some it is easy to see why. It’s sugar, salt, and spice soaked into one big, addicting cabbage. A popular Korean saying states that “a man can live without a wife, but not without kimchi.” When the price of kimchi and kimchi ingredients spiked in 2010 due to shortened harvest times, it was considered a “national tragedy” by Korean newspapers.
When you decide to eat something, and think about what you want to eat specifically, you imagine the tastes of different foods and how they would go together. Kimchi stands out with its unique flavour and ability to go with everything.
So what exactly is kimchi? Well, it is a very diverse traditional dish– the Kimchi Field Museum in Soeul documents 187 historic and modern varieties of it. Every Korean region and family has their own kimchi recipe and distinct taste. However, kimchi in general is made with a few main ingredients and procedures. First, Napa Cabbage or radish is seasoned and fermented for about 3 weeks in a marinade of salt, a special Korean chilli powder, sugar, and possibly fish sauce, shrimp, onions, or garlic. It is then stored in a jar or in a large refrigerator specially reserved for kimchi.
Kimchi can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a side dish, a stew, a soup, in fried rice, or just simply to admire its rich red colour and smooth texture in awe.
My best friend is Korean, and he’s the one who first introduced me to this wonderful food. Thanks to him, my mom has started making our own kimchi! Our kind neighbours are Korean also, and recently they gave us a jarful of it. We’re not sure what to give back though– fried rice? Dumplings? Congee?
If you are interested in making your own kimchi check out this website: http://gastronomyblog.com/2010/11/13/how-to-make-kimchi/.
So whenever you’re hungry, and have that craving for a unique, exciting flavour, try kimchi, a dish that has been loved by Koreans and people around the world for centuries. It’ll make you smile too!