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Since before the invention of modern refrigeration, pickling and fermenting seafood, meat and vegetables have been an Asian tradition to preserve food stock for many families. Among these techniques, the Korean Kimchi is perhaps the most wholesome, versatile and delicious. Dating back to the legendary Three Kingdoms from 37BC to 7AD, and made popular thanks to the spread of Buddhist veganism since the Silla dynasty in the 500s; the Kimchi had evolved through the ages to become an essential staple in both North and South Korean cuisine. The earliest versions weren’t spicy, and though chilli peppers were introduced by Portuguese traders in the 17th century, it wasn’t until 200 years later that chilli was incorporated into Kimchi, for the unique blend of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavour known and enjoyed today. You can even find premade Kimchi and Kimchi paste in supermarkets and Korean grocers.
While Kimchi is often served as an appetizer in a typical Korean meal, it’s also a key ingredient for a myriad of savoury dishes, including fried rice, Budae Jjigae stew, dumplings and Buddha bowl. The most common type you’ll find in Korean restaurants is the napa cabbage Kimchi, but did you know other veggies can be made into Kimchi too? The secret is in the basic mix of salt, fish sauce and Gochugaru chilli powder; fermented for about 2 days. You can keep any type of Kimchi for up to 3 months in your fridge.
Kimchi is also a nutritious superfood – high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, low in calories; and with natural benefits to your digestive health. Many Koreans also attribute their smooth skin and general wellness to eating Kimchi on a daily basis.
So, ready to add this wonder dish to your home-cooked meals? Here are 8 yummy recipes you can easily make in your kitchen!
Perhaps the most common type known and served around the world, napa cabbage Kimchi gives a crunchy mouth-feel and a savoury piquant flavour, sure to spice up your appetite.
Dial down the spiciness with this Water Kimchi – made with napa cabbage, radish and Korean pear or apple for a sweet fruity touch.
Prefer no chilli? Go sweet with the traditional white Kimchi instead, also made with Wombok/napa cabbage.
Rich in potassium with a crispy mouth-feel, radish Kimchi is another popular Korean side dish to go with warm stews or meaty dishes and rice.
An aromatic Kimchi with a distinct herbal flavour, this garlic chive delight is best enjoyed as a side dish or a spicy vegetarian snack.
Perilla leaves make a minty-flavoured Kimchi to go with your salads or as a savoury side to your meat and seafood dishes.
Fragrant with an oniony taste and a lightly bitter note blended with the zesty umami flavour of Kimchi, this spring onion special makes a perfect complement for your meal, or as a green dish on its own; served with rice.
Get crunchy and zesty with this stuffed cucumber favourite that blends the ‘cool’ with Kimchi ‘heat’.