Kimchi - A Taste Of Korea By Ji Young Kim

The first thing my mother does when she flies over from Korea to see her daughter and her family is to make kimchi. She knows that I make two big containers of kimchi every other month, but she wants to make her own kimchi so cooks all day to fill the kimchi refrigerator with 3-4 different kinds of kimchi for us. ( many Koreans have special kimchi refrigerator.) Kimchi is one of Korea’s most traditional and representative foods. We Koreans serve kimchi at almost every meal, and few Koreans can last more than a few days before cravings get the better of them. During the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, thousands of foreigners were introduced to it for the first time. Despite a reputation for being spicy, most people usually develop a taste for it, and many foreigners also find themselves missing it after returning to their home country. Kimchi is made by salting cabbage, and adding radishes, red-pepper powder, garlic, ginger, scallions and fish sauce. The flavor depends on ingredients, condiments, the amount of salt, and level of spice used. There are about 100 kinds of different Kimchis.

Types of Kimchi

Different types of kimchi were traditionally made at different times of year, based on when various vegetables were in season and also to take advantage of hot and cold seasons before the era of refrigeration. ( Types of kimchi also differ from region to region, depending on harvest and weather conditions. Each family has its own recipe handed down from generation to generation. There are over 100 specific types of kimchi. I would like to introduce some of the popular kimchis here.

- Cabbage kimchi (Baechu kimchi): the most popular winter kimchi made by cabbages, radishes and the blended stuffing materials between the layers of salted leaves of uncut, whole cabbage.
- Hot radish kimchi (Kkaktugi) : the most popular preserved side dish made by cube-cut radish, red pepper powder, and salted shrimps.
- Stuffed cucumber kimchi (Oi sobagi) : usually made during the spring and summer time. You need cucumber, shredded radish, and other vegetables.
- Radish water kimchi (Dongchimi) : Cool tastes of pear with high saccharinity and of radish combine to make the best taste of dongchimi.
- Radish and cabbage kimchi (Nabak kimchi) Use radishes and cabbage and pour a great deal of kimchi stock. The less spicy, the better the taste. It is a year-round kimchi available at all seasons. Fermented fish is not used.

Benefits of Kimchi

Kimchi is one of the most famous fermented foods. Fermented foods contain live beneficial bacteria which aids in digestion. Also well-fermented kimchi has numerous anti-biotic functions. In the process of fermentation, lactic acid bacteria help build resistance in the body by suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria. The lactic acid is also efficient for preventing adult diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and even gastrointestinal cancers. Selenium from the garlic works to scoop cholesterol off of arterial walls. Juices from the vegetables and salt in kimchi help the intestines remain clean as well. Kimchi’s function (Korea tourism org.)

Making of Kimchi

I have been making kimchi for over 15 years, yet I have not been able to make kimchi taste exactly the same every time. I would like to introduce one of my mother’s favorite recipe which is named as “Pre-cut Cabbage Kimchi”.


6 pounds or 3 medium-sized Korean cabbages
1 medium sized Korean radish
3 cups coarse salt
12 cups water
2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
5 tablespoons green onion, cut to 1- inch lengths
11/2 cup red pepper powder
1/2 cup fish sauce (made by anchovy )
¼ cup salted shrimps
½ cup fresh shrimp, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sugar

1) Cut cabbages lengthwise in half. Mix 2 cups of coarse salt in 12 cups water. sprinkle 1 cup of salt between the leaves and soak them in the salted water and let stand for 4-5 hours. Change the place of the cabbages from time to time so that the cabbages will be evenly salted.

2) Shred radish into 3-4 inch lengths. Crush or chop garlic and ginger. Cut green onions into about 1-inch lengths. Chop fresh shrimp finely.

3) When cabbages are limp rinse thoroughly 3 times and drain, Cu into about 1- to 1 ½ - inch squares.

4) In a large bowl, mix the cabbage squares with red peper powder. Then add fish sauce, salted shrimps, garlic, ginger, and fresh shrimps and mix. 5) Add green onion and sugar. Mix again. Do not put in the refrigerator at first. You can wait a day or two before you put it in the refrigerator to give it a chance to start ripening. Kimchi will get “frost-bitten” and become unpalatable if refrigerated before it starts to ferment.(Chang Sun-young, 1997) After you put kimchi in the refrigerator, allow it to ferment for about 3-4 days. Enjoy your healthy, delicious kimchi with cooked rice !

Works Cited

Chang Sun-Young, translated by Kim Miza. “A Korean Mother’s Cooking Notes.” Ewha Womans University Press (1997): 135-143
Official Site of Korea Tourism Org.: Kimchi ( (

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