Experiences - Asia

Kimchi-Lovers Guide to Korea

There’s no denying that kimchi is the flavour of the month in Australia. Most keen home cooks would have experimented with this pungent side dish, and local chefs are using kimchi in everything from tacos to toasted cheese sandwiches.

But did you know there are more than 180 types of kimchi, with myriad regional and seasonal variations? To help you explore some of these authentic styles, we’ve created a kimchi-lover’s guide to Korea, including 10 must-try varieties.

Baechu kimchi: whole cabbage kimchi

The most popular style of kimchi, baechu is known as a winter kimchi, as it is prepared before the onset of the cool weather, and then lasts until spring. It is made by brining hunks of whole napa cabbage, then layering the leaves with a mixture of chilli, garlic, ginger and pickled seafood. In the abundant Cholla province, stronger flavours are favoured, so they add anchovies for a savoury hit.

Baechu kimchi

Image Courtesy: Catherine Ling used under the Creative Commons Licence

Pa kimchi: spring onion

One of the easiest kimchis to make, pa kimchi is found in Jeolla-do, in Korea’s lower southwest, where a hefty dose of salted fish is mixed with green onions, red pepper powder, garlic and ginger. It makes a great addition to a kimchi pancake.

kimchi buchim

Oi sobagi: cucumber

A favourite in spring and summer, oi sobaki kimchi originates in the bountiful Cholla province. This crunchy, refreshing kimchi features cucumbers stuffed with garlic chives and chilli flakes.

Gak dugi: cubed radish

A popular winter kimchi, gak dugi is dice-shaped cubes of Korean radish, seasoned with salt, sugar, chilli powder, garlic, ginger and salted shrimp. Why not try and make your own gak dugi at home?

five simple ways you can add kimchi to your diet

Bossam kimchi: rolled kimchi

Popular around Seoul and Chungchong in the south, this elaborate kimchi is a special winter treat, filled with mushrooms, salted fish, Korean pear and chestnuts, wrapped in softened cabbage leaves.

Bossam kimchi rolled kimchi

Image Courtesy: Republic of Korea used under the Creative Commons Licence

Bae kimchi: white cabbage kimchi

Originally hailing from North Korea, this watery ‘white’ kimchi is generally made with less chilli powder, resulting in a milder flavour.

Chonggak kimchi: ponytail kimchi

Heat seekers will love this fiery winter variation, made using whole, young ponytail radishes, garlic, ginger, pickled baby shrimp and piquant red pepper powder.

Hobak: pumpkin

This mildly sweet style from Chungchong uses autumn-harvested pumpkins for this golden-hued side dish.

Nabak: red water kimchi

From Cheju island, off the southern tip of Korea, this highly prized kimchi was originally enjoyed in spring, but is now savoured year-round. Crunchy squares of radish and mixed with cabbage, spring onions, watercress, chilli, garlic and ginger, preserved in brine.

nabak kimchi

Image Courtesy: Catherine Ling  used under creative commons licence.

Dolgat: mustard leaf

When the green leaves of spring appear, locals in the Kyongsang province whip up fresh kimchi, such as the dolgat or peppery mustard leaves, ggaetip (sesame leaves) and k’ongip (bean leaves).

Here are more authentic Korean recipe ideas  for you to explore.

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