Kimchi: How To Make Korea’s National Dish


(Re)introducing The Kimchi
Did you know that the average South Korean consumes about 40 pounds of kimchi each year? Made by salting and preserving fermented napa cabbage in brine and spices, kimchi is the beloved side dish on every Korean table. It has been around for about 2,000 years, since the Shilla Dynasty, and today, the Kimchi Field Museum has documented 187 current and historical varieties of kimchi.


Kimchi can be enjoyed on its own, or used as an ingredient in a main dish. Kimchi can be categorized by ingredients, regions and seasons. While nappa cabbage is the most familiar main ingredient of kimchi, did you know kimchi can also be made with a base ingredient of radish, cucumber or scallion?

When it comes to region, Kimchi from the northern parts of Korea tend to have less salt, less red chilli and are often more watery. Kimchi made in the southern parts of Korea uses salt, chili peppers and brined anchovy (Myeolchijeot), brined shrimp (Saeujeot), or liquid anchovy.


Finally, depending on the season, different types of kimchi are made depending on the type of vegetables available during that season. Traditionally, before refrigeration was invented, a big factor for making different types of kimchi during each season is to take advantage of the temperature change. This is because different temperatures are required at various stages of fermentation. While the invention of the kimchi refrigerators, specially designed for precise temperature control, made making different types of kimchi during different season uncecessary, Koreans generally continue to consume kimchi according to traditional seasonal preferences.

Despite the complex flavour, kimchi is actually easy to make. Here are some recipes you can try.

Kimchi, the easy version
TYM-Month4-Article1-Korean-Pic3This an easy to follow recipe for the basic napa cabbage kimchi, complete with step-by-step photos.
The site even comes with a print-friendly set of instructions, simply scroll till the end of all the step-by-step photos to see the recipe nicely presented in 1 neat sheet.

Kimchi Pickling 101 with Chef EJ Jeong of Cham Korean Bistro
TYM-Month4-Article1-Korean-Pic4Presented at a kimchi pickling workshop in a Pasadena Korean restaurant, this kimchi is flavoured with both anchovy and fish sauce. (Chef EJ Jeong is very popular with her kimchi. Just google her name and you can see for yourself.)

Baechu Kimchi (Napa Cabbage Kimchi)
TYM-Month4-Article1-Korean-Pic5Salted seafood is used in kimchi for the distinct pungency and depth of flavour, and to aid in the fermentation process. This recipe uses both raw and salted shrimp.

Dongchimi (Radish Water Kimchi)
TYM-Month4-Article1-Korean-Pic6Traditionally made right before winter starts in Korea, dongchimi (literally, winter kimchi) is made with crispy and sweet palm-sized radish.

Radish Water Kimchi
TYM-Month4-Article1-Korean-Pic7Nabak kimchi is made from both napa cabbage and radish. It has a refreshing and mild taste perfect for those who can’t handle the intense spiciness of regular kimchi.

Further Reading:


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Author: Song Lianyi

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