I still remember my very first taste of kimchi. I received a jar of homemade kimchi from my friend, Trish for my birthday. The pungent aroma was followed by its deep, funky flavour. I was hooked and soon after I made my very own batch.
Kimchi is a fermented Korean sidedish. It is ubiquitous in their diet – they eat it with almost every lunch and dinner and sometimes breakfast. . Kimchi is a regular part of Korean banchan, small side dishes that are served along with meals. It is estimated that Koreans eat 40lbs each per year of kimchi. There are over 160 seasonal and regional varieties of kimchi! In North America, however, we are most familiar with the deep red, spicy variety. Each year, when the napa cabbage crops are ready families and communities come together for Kimjang, an annual kimchi-making celebration. Kimjang may last for 2-3 days and families may go through as many as 100-200 cabbages. Many Koreans even have special fridges just to store their kimchi.
In 2010 there was a kimchi crisis in Korea due to weather conditions that damaged the napa cabbage crops. This impacted their culture greatly – napa cabbage was brought in from China and they even used the less desirable European cabbage in desperation. I can’t think of any one food in Canada that is so important and ubiquitous in our diet.
Traditionally kimchi was fermented in large ongi (earthen pots) that were buried in backyards. Today, with fewer people having space or land to ferment in the traditional way, new vessels for fermenting kimchi are emerging. At STIR we use 1.9 litre glass jars to make our kimchi. The glass allows you to see how the ferment is progressing and is a safe, easy to clean vessel.
In addition to its deep, spicy flavour, kimchi is loaded with probiotic bacteria and enzymes. Try a few forkfuls with your next meal or incorporate it into your everyday dishes.
Some ideas to get you started…
- kimchi fried rice
- kimchi soup
- kimchi grilled cheese
- kimchi pancakes
- kimchi quesadilla
- kimchi slaw
- savory kimchi oatmeal