Posted by Tyler on 2021 Apr 13th
We now understand what Koreans have known for generations—Kimchi is the perfect food.
For generations, kimchi might have been Korea’s best kept culinary secret, but like all national (North and South) dishes, the rest of the world eventually caught on. Now you can find dishes using kimchi around the globe, which makes sense—it’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s one of the
healthiest foods a person can eat.
Like most foods with deep cultural roots, kimchi has changed over the years. Fermenting large amounts of vegetables was first developed as a method of preservation, so people could enjoy fresh and healthy vegetables during the cold winter months. This early version of kimchi was stored in earthenware containers set in the ground to keep cool, and was pretty bland by today’s standards. Over the centuries the process evolved to add a variety of spices and seasonings that give it the rich and complex flavour that’s made it so popular today. (
Here’s a nice, brief history of kimchi if you’re interested in the origins of the dish.)
There’s no single recipe you can point to and say “That is definitively kimchi“—different regions and people have their own take on the dish. The necessary components are bok choy or another Chinese cabbage, Korean radish and gochugaru chilli powder, with onion, garlic, ginger and hot peppers often included. These are combined and then fermented over days or even weeks.
Through the fermentation, the flavours combine and deepen, leaving a profile that’s simultaneously sour and salty and sweet and spicy. There’s also a subtle fizziness on the palette that is very much a part of the taste experience. This complexity is why foodies are very into kimchi—it’s delicious, versatile and unlike anything else.
People might come for the flavour, but they stay for the
health benefits. During fermentation, the vegetables in kimchi not only develop their taste, they become a playground for lactic-acid bacteria (lactobacilli)—probiotics that help with good gut health. The science on kimchi and its positive bacteria has revealed anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. It’s also rich in vitamins A and B, calcium and iron, high in fibre and low in fat. Calling it "the perfect food" might seem like hyperbole, but the truth is it's about as close as you can come.
Get started making your own kimchi with a Heyday Seoul Sister kimchi kit - doing it yourself doesn't mean doing it alone.