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Kimchi is a staple Korean pickled vegetable dish, served with every meal. There are many different types, but in essence kimchi is made from sliced vegetables, sometimes fruit that has been fermented in brine by lactic-acid forming organisms, and then the pickled vegetables are flavoured with spices, especially chillis and fresh ginger.

Kimchi-making is an ancient practice, originating in AD 700, with chillis added to the recipes following the Japanese invasion of Korea in the sixteenth century. This method of preserving food for winter is still an annual task that is followed in autumn by traditional Korean families. In warm weather, fermentation takes little more than a day, but in cold weather is takes somewhat longer. The kimchi jar is buried underground and taken out when needed - it usually has a dodgy smell. Like all traditions, however, more civilised and homogenous-tasting kimchi is found in sterilised jars on supermarket shelves nowadays.

Kimchi is popular as a healthy food, because of its high levels of lactobacillus bacteria (a healthy gut bacteria)[1].

Kimchi Recipe

There are many kimchi recipes but a good standard is[2]:

  1. Cut 450 g (1 lb) of white cabbage into 2½ cm (1 inch) squares, and salt them for 15 minutes, using about 2 tablespoons of salt.
  2. Wash the salt off the wilted cabbage with fresh water, drain and mix with 4 shredded spring onions (including the green part), 2 - 3 cloves of garlic, and a small chopped fresh chilli.
  3. Add a small piece of fresh ginger, sliced finely, and 1 tablespoon of salt.
  4. Put the kimchi mixture into a jar and cover with cold water. Shake the jar to dissolve the salt and stand it in the sun for a day.
  5. If the weather is warm, fermentation is finished in 24 hours, but in colder weather it will take much longer - perhaps 5 days.
  6. When fermentation is completed, store kimchi jar in fridge for several weeks.


  1. Raymond, J. (2016) World's Healthiest Foods: Kimchi (Korea),, 11 March 2016, accessed 7 June 2016 [1]
  2. Lebovitz, D. (2008) Kimchi Recipe, David Lebovitz, 2 January 2008, accessed 7 June 2016 [2]

Further Reading

  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.