Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine and dates back over 3,000 years. Technically the word “kimchi” means any fermented vegetable with seasoning, but the variety many think of today became popular in the 1600s. Most kimchi sold in stores is made with cabbage, carrots, garlic, ginger, peppers, scallions, fish sauce, and salt. Originally, the process for making kimchi was used as a means of preservation where large batches would be prepared in the fall and stored underground in large pottery jars to last throughout the winter. Today, this fermented favorite is widely popular as a condiment or side dish to compliment the main meal. Look for kimchi at any well-stocked grocery store or health food store.
Flavor and Texture of Kimchi
Thanks to the creation of lactic acid during the fermentation process, kimchi has a deliciously sour and tangy flavor. Another characteristic of kimchi’s flavor profile is a spicy kick, but the amount of heat can vary depending on the amount of pepper used in the recipe. The length of fermentation will also alter the flavor profile bringing a more pungent taste with a longer fermentation time. Typically, kimchi has a crunchy texture from the vegetables and a thin saucy juice. For a lighter kimchi, look for one made with cucumbers or radishes, which gives it a refreshing bite, and for a more umami-rich version, look for fish sauce or anchovies among the list of ingredients.
Storage and Usage of Kimchi
Keep kimchi fresh for about six months by storing it in the fridge once opened. After that, it’s still fine to eat, but the flavor could become intense as it continues to ferment. Kimchi can also be kept at room temperature on the counter, but will only be good stored like this for about a week.
Kimchi works great any time of day and with almost any dish. Fry up white rice with a heap of kimchi and top it off with a fried egg for breakfast or try our Kimchi Egg Bites for an easy on-the-go morning meal. Serve up some Beef Bulgogi for dinner and use kimchi as a side dish to add a refreshing crisp component that pairs perfectly with the meat. For a vegan-friendly meal, try these Bibimbap-Style Rice Bowls With Spicy Tofu.