The Kimchi Chronicles – Part One

by | Jun 10, 2020 | Food Chemistry, Food Microbiology, Food Science, Product Development

When you think of fermented foods, there are certain foods that come to mind quite quickly – beer, wine, cheese, sauerkraut and so on. However, the list of food products that we can find on the shelves as well as make at home is almost endless!

For the next few weeks, will delve into the world of fermented foods, fermentation and the role it plays in human nutrition. However, for the next two weeks, we have decided to take a deeper look into fermented foods that aren’t often thought of straight away. On that note, welcome to;

The Kimchi Chronicles

What is Kimchi and Where did it Come From?

Kimchi (chimchae – salting vegetables) is a dish unique to Korea and it is made by salting and then fermenting Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage) or Daikon (radish) by lactic acid bacteria that occurs naturally in cabbage.
Originally, vegetables were salted for preservation purposes in order for food to last throughout the harsh winter climates in Korea. Early development of kimchi began with salting/brining radishes, but slowly over the years the types of vegetables used in as well as styles of kimchi began to diversify as trade between other countries and Korea grew. Cabbage kimchi (Tongbaechu Kimchi) with chilli flakes has now become the most popular style of kimchi after its invention in 1800 C.E.
Today there are over 200 different styles of kimchi and is a staple at any Korean meal time.

When and How is it eaten?

Kimchi can be eaten as a main dish as well as a side dish. Traditionally, it is served as a side dish with rice, noodles or soup, but can also be made into meals such as kimchi pancakes (Kimchi Buchimgae, 김치 부침개), kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae, 김치찌개) and kimchi dumplings (kimchi mandu, 치만두). Honestly, Kimchi can be eaten with almost anything your heart desires, it just depends on how adventurous your palate is!

What do I need to make Kimchi?

The recipe can be as simple or complex as you want it, but the general outline is as follows:

  • Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Korean hot pepper (Gochugaru) (the more you add, the spicier it will be – it will also intensify the red colour of kimchi)
  • Fish sauce
  • Vegetables: Carrots, yellow onion, spring onion, radish
  • Additional spices: garlic, ginger & chives

And around 4 hours of time to spare for chopping, salting, spicing, packaging and cleaning.

If you want to learn more about the Kimchi, here are some interesting reads:

Coming up soon!

  • The Food Lab Makes Kimchi
  • Kimchi: The Science of Fermentation
  • What to do with all our Kimchi?