To Koreans, life without kimchi is unthinkable. You may have heard of kimchi, but maybe you don’t know what it means to Koreans. Kimchi is a traditionally fermented Korean side dish, which is more than just vegetables made with various seasonings. Kimchi represents the identity of a nation and has become a symbol for Koreans.
If you ask Koreans whether they can serve meals without kimchi, 9 out of 10 people will answer with a big no, because kimchi has become such a big part of all Koreans’ lives. When they travel overseas, many Koreans take some packs of kimchi in their suitcase. Even the South Korean national football team brings their own kimchi to enjoy before an international match.
Fermentation is what gives kimchi its healthy properties. (Credit: CSU Extension FSHN/ Flickr)
Kimchi develops its unique flavour through fermentation, which involves letting the cut cabbage and radish sit fully submerged in brine for one or two on the countertop, or at least a few days in the fridge. Water is drawn out of the vegetables through brining, which preserves the food through a long period of seasoning. Wild cultures which naturally occur on the vegetables then are then fermented to make kimchi, a healthy probiotic which aids digestion and gets rid of the bad bacteria in one’s body.
Enjoy kimchi and let your taste buds enjoy Korea!