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What Is Kimchi, And How Do You Cook With It?

When you walk into the local Asian grocery store, you'll find an array of jars of kimchi from different brands. Each option depicts a bright red color against varying vegetables. This Korean staple is eaten with many meals like soup, rice, pancakes; you name it!

So, what is kimchi, and what can you make with it?

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a condiment that starts with a delicious mixture of vegetables like napa cabbage and daikon radish. These vegetables are combined with seasonings like spicy chilis, garlic, ginger, salt, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce. Some stores offer a kimchi paste option if you don't want to mix this seasoning up at home. This paste has the flavoring already combined. Then, the whole mixture is fermented.

The result is a unique combination of vegetables and spices beloved by many. The exact ingredients in kimchi vary based on what region in Korea you're eating it. Another factor that affects the ingredients is which vegetables are in season.

Part of the reason this food is so popular is because of its affordable price. Fermented kimchi is also easily found in many Asian and non-Asian stores now. Affordable, available, and delicious are more than enough reasons to start adding kimchi to everything.

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

You already know this pickled food offers a yummy spicy flavor to dishes. The other flavors you’ll find in kimchi include a tanginess and sour taste. It also has an umami taste, like soy sauce. Because the ingredients in kimchi vary, the final flavor will also vary.

Some kimchi recipe options are saltier and include items like salted shrimp, and some are sweeter. Regardless of the origin of this food, you can count on most kimchi options to be spicy, sour, and “meaty”/ umami tasting.

History of Kimchi

How did this incredible food come about? Kimchi has been around for about 3,000 years. During the winter, food was scarcer, and it was more challenging to grow. Koreans began pickling vegetables to eat during the colder months in response to this.

In the beginning, this pickled food was not spicy. However, when chilis were introduced to Korea in the 1500s, they were added to kimchi. This was when the modern form of this pickled food was born.

How Is Kimchi Made?

Homemade kimchi may seem like a complicated food to make. However, an easy kimchi recipe only requires a few steps. The first step is cutting the vegetables of choice (like cabbage) lengthwise and soaking them in saltwater. Afterward, the seasoning (including the chilis) is added to the vegetables, and it's left to ferment for a few days at room temperature. The final step is refrigerating this tangy food.

How Do You Cook With Kimchi?

Now that you know all about Korean kimchi, it's time to create some tasty dishes with it! Here are some ways that you can incorporate kimchi into recipes.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is a favorite for many – especially because the complex flavors of this fermented food work so well with rice! You can make a version from scratch. Or, try the Jongga Kimchi Fried Rice Kit. This fried rice kit comes with yummy kimchi packets to add. All you need is some tasty toppings like seaweed, and it's ready to go!

Jongga Kimchi Fried Rice Kit

Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi jjigae is a traditional Korean food and a common way to eat kimchi. It's a tasty beef kimchi stew that is filling and fiery. If you're craving this dish but are pinched for time, try Daebak Habanero Kimchi Jjigae. This instant noodle cup has the same tangy, spicy flavor as kimchi yet is ready in only a few minutes.

Daebak Habanero Kimchi Jjigae

You can use fermented cabbage kimchi or radish kimchi for an extra flavorful topping.

Other Ways To Enjoy Kimchi

Try these yummy options when you want that spicy, umami taste of kimchi.

Just Plain

Don't be afraid to eat it by the spoonful if you really enjoy the flavor! Grab your favorite brand of kimchi like Wang Tinned Napa Cabbage Kimchi and get eating. You can even practice your chopstick skills as you enjoy this pickled condiments’ complex flavors.

 Wang Tinned Napa Cabbage Kimchi

Over Rice

A popular option is adding some kimchi over rice to spice it up. Try an option like Wang Tinned Stir-Fried Kimchi, add it to a bowl of rice, and enjoy.

Wang Tinned Stir-Fried Kimchi

Looking for more inspiration for kimchi recipe options? Head to Bokksu Grocery, an online market for Asian grocery items. Try some new Asian snacks and sweets with the opportunity to order groceries online easily.

By Krystina Quintana

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