Kimchi is undoubtedly one of the tastiest fermented dishes. The flavorful blend of vegetables, salt, and seasonings has become one of the most popular side dishes in recent years due to its unique taste and health benefits; joining the explosion of Korean cuisine, culture, and entertainment. But how was kimchi invented, and what makes it so good?
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When the first Koreans started using agriculture they had huge problems with the weather because the winters were extremely cold. It was important to save food for the winter and the most popular way to preserve food was using salt on different kinds of foods.
During the period of the Three Kingdoms, before modern day Korea became a country, other kingdoms noticed the way the Koreans preserved their food and this is where we find the first writings about the skills of the Koreans in preserving food.
The first writings about kimchi originate from the Goryeo Period. During this time, trade exploded with other kingdoms and new vegetables found their way to Korea, including napa or Chinese cabbage. As a result, the way kimchi was prepared changed a lot. The original kimchi was made from radishes since this was a local product; but over hundreds of years, new kinds of vegetables and spices were used to prepare different variations of the dish.
Now, there are many types of kimchi. Since roughly 200 years ago, there have been around 100 different kinds of kimchi. Now, over 200 types of kimchi take over the market! This huge variety has made kimchi one of the most popular side dishes internationally, as there is a kind of kimchi for every occasion.
Some of the different types of kimchi include kkakdugi (cubed radish kimchi), mul kimchi (water kimchi), and chonggak kimchi (ponytail radish kimchi). These different types of kimchi are also used in popular Korean dishes; such as kimchi friend rice, spicy pork stir fry, kimchi pancakes, and kimchi stew.
Pictured above: kimchi stew (left) and kimchi fried rice (right).
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Kimchi has also played a huge role in a Korean eating trend: the mukbang. Learn more in our blog: