Kimchi is a Korean side dish that consists of spicy, fermented vegetables, usually Napa cabbage and radishes. Due to the high levels of salt, garlic and ginger, the dish has a sour and tangy flavor. Peppers and chili powder are often added, which gives kimchi a nice kick of spice.

Kimchi History

Cabbage kimchi has been around for about 1,500 years as a staple in the Korean diet. It was the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, that originally gave rise to kimchi consumption on a more global scale. While Olympics organizers thought that the strong odor of kimchi might be a turn off to visitors not accustomed to it, the food became a hit with Olympic-goers.. Now kimchi has become a foodie favorite worldwide, and its uses have expanded. In particular, it has become a popular add-on to burgers and sausages.

Types of Kimchi

cabbage being boiled down

The original kimchi consisted of only salt and cabbage, but as time passed more ingredients were introduced, including fish paste, garlic and other vegetables.

Whole Cabbage Kimchi

Whole cabbage kimchi is the most popular variety and can be served as part of breakfast, lunch or dinner. The cabbage is trimmed, cut into four pieces and brined, leaving huge chunks of cabbage whole. Whole cabbage kimchi is typically milder, which may account for its level of popularity.

Kkakdugi Kimchi

kkakdugi kimchi in a bowl

Kkakdugi kimchi, or kimchi made of radish cubes, is another common type. It's made from white radishes and finished off with fine red chili powder to give it a strong red coloring. Despite the red chili powder, this type of kimchi also has a mild flavor.

Green Water Kimchi

Green water, or Yeolmu-kimchi, is another variety that is made of radishes mixed with green and red chili peppers. This variety is known to be spicier than Kkakdugi kimchi.

Ponytail Kimchi

Ponytail kimchi, known as Chonggak kimchi in Korea, is known for its spiciness. It is made from whole radishes, ginger, garlic and spicy red pepper powder.

Health Benefits of Kimchi

kimchi in a jar

Kimchi contains a long list of health benefits as a probiotic. The fermentation process and other ingredients included in kimchi such as garlic, chili powder and ginger allow kimchi to provide anti-cancer and anti-obesity properties, mental health benefits and help eliminate bad bacteria in the digestive system.

How To Make Kimchi

man preparing kimchi in jars

Kimchi can take a couple of weeks to ferment properly, but the flavor is worth it the wait. This recipe is a great start to a simple and delicious kimchi. First, a kimchi paste is made of ginger, sugar, garlic, Korean red pepper flakes and seafood flavoring. This is combined with chopped and salted cabbage, julienned radish and sliced scallions. Everything is then thoroughly mixed together and packed into a mason jar. The jar should sit at room temperature for a few days and then be refrigerated once the kimchi tastes to your liking. The longer the kimchi sits, the stronger the flavor will be.

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