For Asians, side dishes play a very significant role, they bring out the flavours of the main dishes and make the meal more delightful. In Korean cuisine, ‘Kimchi’ is one of the quintessential Korean side dishes that has now become a global phenomenon now for its gut-friendly attributes. Kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable that accompanies almost every traditional meal in South Korea. The most popular kind of kimchi is usually made with the Chinese cabbage but there are a lot of other vegetables which are also used. This side dish is probably the best way to understand about the Korean cuisine and how it developed into a rich culinary style over the centuries.

Tale Of Kimchi

Over the last decade Korean food has gained a vast popularity worldwide for its sapid flavours. Some even argue that the diversity of the kitchen and the focus on fresh, local vegetables makes it one of the healthiest kitchens in the world. In ancient times this was a necessity for the Korean people who had to depend upon their agriculture produce to sustain themselves from harsh cold winters. For them, vegetables were the most apt choice, to preserve for a longer period of time by using the method of fermentation. Gradually, Koreans mastered the art of fermentation using salt. The history of kimchi dates back to the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD. There are over 300 kinds of kimchi in Korea and each province has a different kind of variation to it. Moreover, there are different kinds for each season. For instance, in spring, Chinese cabbage is popular. Then in summer, young radish kimchi (chong kak) and cucumber kimchi rule the roost. As it can be seen from the numerous variations, Kimchi is a versatile side dish. The value of balance inherent in Kimchi beautifully reflects the philosophy of the Five Elements theory. The five flavors of kimchi (sour, bitter, salty, sweet, and spicy) represent the Korean culinary tradition rooted in harmony.

How Kimchi Is Prepared

The most common kimchi that is served with every Korean meal is the classic pogi kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi). In this dish, a medium to large cabbage is used for making kimchi, which is then fermented with various tantalizing seasonings and most importantly salt. In Korea cheonilyeom (coarse sea salt) is used for brining. It’s natural salt with a coarse texture that is minimally processed, which helps to develop flavors in the kimchi, without bitterness. Once kimchi is placed into an earthenware pot, it undergoes an active fermentation process very quickly. It easily ferments within 3–4 days at room temperature.

Why Kimchi Is Healthy

Besides being super delicious in taste, Korean kimchi has also gained a global recognition as a healthy probiotic food. Kimchi is a good source of lactobacilli that removes germs and harmful bacteria while promoting numerous health benefits.

Korea’s fermented food, ‘Kimchi’ is a stellar example of delightful fermented dish that you should definitely experience by yourself.