What is Kimchi? (And 5 reasons to fall in love with it)

Kimchi, a beloved staple in the Korean Diet, has been on the rise lately, for good reasons too.

I discovered Japanese culture at a young age and shortly after, my interest in Japanese culture led to the discovery of other Asian cultures, such as the Korean Culture. And thanks to my amazing Korean Friends,  I was introduced to Korean food. There’s so much to love about Korean Culture, but in this post, we are going to focus on food. In particular, Kimchi.

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is fermented and seasoned cabbage. At nearly every Korean meal, you can find this tasty side dish. If it’s not offered as a side, it’s probably in your food somewhere. Before you shriek at the word “fermented”, lets dive into how Kimchi was originally cultured back in the day, before mass-productions of this tasty side dish became a thing.

Historical records show that Kimchi has been around for about 4000 years (That’s longer than pizza has been around)! Kimchi was typically made using Napa cabbage, and seasoned with various flavors, such as red pepper, garlic, ginger, and other savory flavors. The process to make Kimchi was long and tedious. In order to ferment and preserve it, Kimchi would be stored in large clay pots and buried deep in the cool soil for several months. This gave the cabbage plenty of time to ferment and absorb all those amazing flavors. Mmm, my mouth is watering just writing about it.

Alright, that’s enough history for today. Let’s look at 5 reasons you should adopt this side dish as a staple in your diet.

5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Kimchi

  1. It’s Delicious
    Don’t be afraid of the bright red color, the smell, or even the thought that it’s fermented cabbage. Give kimchi a taste with a bite of rice and enjoy as it changes your meal from boring to authentic and exciting.
  2. It’s Extremely Diverse
    The whole reason I came up with this blog post was because I was in the midst of moving and had no food, except kimchi. So what did I do? I made Kimchi Jjiggae (Kimchi soup), because literally all you need to make this dish is Kimchi and water. And it’s the best. soup. ever.
    Kimchi by itself is an amazing side dish, but what makes it even better is that there are endless amounts of recipes you can make with Kimchi. Kimchi Jjigae, Kimchi Guksu, Kimchi-jeon are just a few to make the list.
  3. All the Health Benefits
    Not only is this a healthy, low-calorie, high fiber, high in vitamins A, B and C side dish, it’s great for your gut! Our gut needs certain bacteria in order to function healthily, and eating fermented foods, such as kimchi, is one sure way to ensure that you’re getting the bacteria you need.
  4. It’s an Ice Breaker
    I still remember the first time I brought kimchi to work in my lunch box. Why? Because Kimchi is very aromatic, to say the least. Needless to say, I drew attention to my lunch. I began to hear, “Oh, what did you bring for lunch today? I can smell it..” My lovely co-workers trying to be kind and accepting of me. Shortly after that, another co-worker popped his head in the room and said, “I smell cabbage!”. He had lived in Korea for some time and said he could never forget the smell.. I still don’t know if that was meant to comfort me, or passively tell me he was scarred for life (hah!). But we all had a great time talking about it, and I had a great time letting people taste it for the first time. Shared food experiences are always good experiences! If a strange food-tasting experience doesn’t bond you with someone, I don’t know what will.
  5. It Basically Never Expires
    If you’re anything like me, you go grocery shopping with great ambitions to cook elaborate healthy meals, and then realize soon after that you are much too lazy to spend 3 hours preparing your lunches for the week, 80% of your food goes bad, and you have to dump it out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that, and as a frugal person who hates to waste, I die a little inside every time. But the fact is, I like easy food, and I like healthy food. A perfect meal for me consists of snack foods that require little to no preparation: almonds, organic non-processed turkey lunch meat, grapes, bell peppers, etc. I like foods that can be eaten just the way they are and still taste great. That’s why kimchi is great to have around, and I never have to worry about it expiring… Only fermenting more…When I get bored of my snack-like meals, I venture to make something with Kimchi. It livens up my meal and makes my life more exciting. Truly.

Now what are you waiting for? Go find your nearest Asian Market and buy some Kimchi!

Sources:
Discussion on the Origin of Kimchi
Health Benefits of Kimchi
Photo: Kimchi

XOXO

Sisi

 

 

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