Kimchi (/ˈkɪm/; Korean: 김치, romanizedgimchi, IPA: [kim.tɕʰi]), a staple food in Korean cuisine, is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as napa cabbage and Korean radish, made with a widely varying selection of seasonings, including gochugaru (Korean chili powder), spring onions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood), etc.[1][2] It is also used in a variety of soups and stews. It is eaten as a side dish with almost every Korean meal.[3]

Kimchi (Kimchee)
Various kimchi.jpg
Various forms of contemporary kimchi
CourseBanchan
Place of originKorea
Region or stateKorea
Associated national cuisine
Main ingredientsVarious vegetables including napa cabbage and Korean radish
VariationsBaechu-kimchi, baek-kimchi, dongchimi, kkakdugi, nabak-kimchi, pa-kimchi, yeolmu-kimchi, gat-kimchi, seokbakji
Korean name
Hangul
김치
Revised Romanizationgimchi
McCune–Reischauerkimch'i
IPA[kim.tɕʰi]

There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made with different vegetables as the main ingredients.[2] Traditionally, winter kimchi, called kimjang, was stored in large earthenware fermentation vessels, called onggi, in the ground to prevent freezing during the winter months and to keep it cool enough to slow down the fermentation process during summer months.[4] The vessels are also kept outdoors in special terraces called jangdokdae. In contemporary times, household kimchi refrigerators are more commonly used.[2]

Etymology

Ji

The term ji (), which has its origins in archaic Korean dihi (디히), has been used to refer to kimchi since ancient times.[5] The sound change can be roughly described as:[6]

  • dihi (디히) > di () > ji ()

The Middle Korean form dihi is found in several books from Joseon (1392–1897).[7][8] In Modern Korean, the word remains as the suffix -ji in the standard language (as in jjanji, seokbak-ji),[9][10] and as the suffix -ji as well as the noun ji in Gyeongsang and Jeolla dialects.[11] The unpalatalized form di is preserved in P'yŏngan dialect.[12]

Kimchi

Kimchi (김치) is the accepted word in both North and South Korean standard languages. Earlier forms of the word include timchɑi (팀ᄎᆡ), a Middle Korean transcription of the Sino-Korean word (literally "submerged vegetable"). Timchɑi appears in Sohak Eonhae,[13] the 16th century Korean rendition of the Chinese book, Xiaoxue.[14] Sound changes from Middle Korean to Modern Korean regarding the word can be described as:[15]

  • timchɑi (팀ᄎᆡ; 沈菜) > dimchɑi (딤ᄎᆡ) > jimchɑi (짐ᄎᆡ) > jimchui (짐츼) > gimchi (김치)

The aspirated first consonant of timchae became unaspirated in dimchɑe, then underwent palatalization in jimchɑe. The word then became jimchui with the loss of the vowel ɑ () in Korean language, then Kimchi, with the depalatalized word-initial consonant. In Modern Korean, the hanja characters 沈菜 are pronounced chimchae (침채), and are not used to refer to kimchi, or anything else. The word Kimchi is not considered as a Sino-Korean word.[15] Older forms of the word are retained in many regional dialects: jimchae (Jeolla, Hamgyŏng dialects),[16] jimchi (Chungcheong, Gangwon, Gyeonggi, Gyeongsang, Hamgyŏng, Jeolla dialects),[17] and dimchi (P'yŏngan dialect).[18]

The English word "kimchi" perhaps originated from kimch'i, the McCune–Reischauer transcription of the Korean word Kimchi (김치).

History

Samguk Sagi, a historical record of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, also mentions the pickle jar used to ferment vegetables, which indicates that fermented vegetables were commonly eaten during this time.[19][20] During the Silla dynasty (57 BC – AD 935), kimchi became prevalent as Buddhism caught on throughout the nation and fostered a vegetarian lifestyle.[21]

The pickling of vegetables was an ideal method, prior to refrigerators, that helped to preserve the lifespan of foods. In Korea, kimchi was made during the winter by fermenting vegetables, and burying it in the ground in traditional brown ceramic pots called onggi. This labor further allowed a bonding among women within the family.[21] A poem on Korean radish written by Yi Gyubo, a 13th-century literatus, shows that radish kimchi was a commonplace in Goryeo (918–1392).[22][23][24]

Pickled radish slices make a good summer side-dish,
Radish preserved in salt is a winter side-dish from start to end.
The roots in the earth grow plumper every day,
Harvesting after the frost, a slice cut by a knife tastes like a pear.

— Yi Gyubo, Donggukisanggukjip (translated by Michael J. Pettid, in Korean cuisine: An Illustrated History)

Kimchi has been a staple in Korean culture, but historical versions were not a spicy dish.[25] Early records of kimchi do not mention garlic or chili pepper.[26] Chili peppers, now a standard ingredient in kimchi, had been unknown in Korea until the early seventeenth century due to its being a New World crop.[27] Chili peppers, originally native to the Americas, were introduced to East Asia by Portuguese traders.[26][28][29] The first mention of chili pepper is found in Jibong yuseol, an encyclopedia published in 1614.[19][30] Sallim gyeongje, a 17‒18th century book on farm management, wrote on kimchi with chili peppers.[19][31] However, it was not until the 19th century that the use of chili peppers in kimchi was widespread.[32] The recipes from early 19th century closely resemble today's kimchi.[33][34]

A 1766 book, Jeungbo sallim gyeongje, reports kimchi varieties made with myriad ingredients, including chonggak-kimchi (kimchi made with chonggak radish), oi-sobagi (with cucumber), seokbak-ji (with jogi-jeot), and dongchimi.[19][35] However, napa cabbage was introduced to Korea only at the end of 19th century,[32] and whole-cabbage kimchi similar to its current form is described in Siuijeonseo, a cookbook published around that time.[36]

During South Korea's involvement in the Vietnam War the industrialization and commercialization of kimchi production became increasingly important because the Korean government wanted to provide rations for its troops. The Korean government requested American help to ensure that South Korean troops, reportedly "desperate" for the food, could obtain it in the field.[37][38]

in 2008, South Korean scientists created a special low-calorie, vitamin-rich, and bacteria-free (although on Earth they are essential for the fermentation to take place, they feared that cosmic rays might mutate them) “Space Kimchi,” for Yi So-yeon, the very first astronaut, to take it to space with her.[39]

Ingredients

 
Basic ingredients for kimchi: napa cabbage, radish, carrot, salt, garlic, fish sauce, chili powder and scallions. A sticky, glutinous paste of rice flour is also needed to make the seasoning of the kimchi.
 
Salted napa cabbage before making kimchi. Cabbage is usually marinated twice to help maintain the salt in the dish.
 
Drying chili peppers for kimchi. These peppers are then made into gochugaru, or chilli pepper powder. This powder is added to the rice flour paste to make a seasoning paste for spicy kimchi.

Kimchi varieties are determined by the main vegetable ingredients and the mix of seasoning used to flavor the kimchi.

Vegetables

For many families, the pungent and often spicy meal is a source of pride and recalls the taste of a good home.[40] Cabbages (napa cabbages, bomdong, headed cabbages) and radishes (Korean radishes, ponytail radishes, gegeol radishes, yeolmu radishes) are the most commonly used kimchi vegetables.[1][2] Other kimchi vegetables include: aster, balloon flower roots, burdock roots, celery, chamnamul, cilantro, cress, crown daisy greens, cucumber, eggplant, garlic chives, garlic scapes, ginger, Korean angelica-tree shoots, Korean parsley, Korean wild chive, lotus roots, mustard greens, onions, perilla leaves, bamboo shoot, momordica charantia, pumpkins, radish greens, rapeseed leaves, scallions, seaweed, soybean sprouts, spinach, sugar beets, sweet potato vines, and tomatoes.[41]

Seasonings

Brining salt (with a larger grain size compared to kitchen salt) is used mainly for initial salting of kimchi vegetables. Being minimally processed, it serves to help develop flavours in fermented foods.[42] Cabbage is usually salted twice when making spicy kimchi.

Commonly used seasonings include gochugaru (chili powder), scallions, garlic, ginger, and jeotgal (salted seafood)[1][2] Jeotgal can be replaced with raw seafood in colder Northern parts of the Korean peninsula.[43] If used, milder saeu-jeot (salted shrimp) or jogi-jeot (salted croaker) is preferred and the amount of jeotgal is also reduced in Northern and Central regions.[43] In Southern Korea, on the other hand, generous amount of stronger myeolchi-jeot (salted anchovies) and galchi-jeot (salted hairtail) is commonly used.[43] Raw seafood or daegu-agami-jeot (salted cod gills) are used in the East coast areas.[43]

Salt, scallions, garlic, fish sauce, and sugar are commonly added to flavour the kimchi.[44]

Microorganisms present in kimchi

The microorganisms present in kimchi include Bacillus mycoides, B. pseudomycoides, B. subtilis, Lactobacillus brevis, Lb. curvatus, Lb. kimchii, Lb. parabrevis, Lb. pentosus, Lb. plantarum, Lb. sakei, Lb. spicheri, Lactococcus carnosum, Lc. gelidum, Lc. lactis, Leuconostoc carnosum, Ln. citreum, Ln. gasicomitatum, Ln. gelidum, Ln. holzapfelii, Ln. inhae, Ln. kimchii, Ln. lactis, Ln. mesenteroides, Serratia marcescens, Weissella cibaria, W. confusa, W. kandleri, W. kimchii. W. koreensis, and W. soli.[45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52] Archaea and yeasts, such as Saccharomyces, Candida, Pichia, and Kluyveromyces are also present in kimchi,[53][54] with the latter being responsible for undesirable white colonies that sometimes form in the product as well as food spoilages and off-flavors.[53][55]

In early fermentation stages, the Leuconostoc variety is found more dominantly in kimchi fermentation because of its lower acid tolerance and microaerophilic properties; the Leuconostoc variety also grows better at low salt concentrations.[53] Throughout the fermentation process, as acidity rises, the Lactobacillus and Wessellia variety become dominant because of their higher acid tolerance. Lacto bacillus also grows better in conditions with a higher salt concentration.[53]

These microorganisms are present due to the natural microflora provided by utilizing unsterilized food materials in the production of kimchi.[56][57] The step of salting the raw materials as well as the addition of red pepper powder inhibit the pathogenic and putrefactive bacteria present in the microflora, allowing the lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to flourish and become the dominant microorganism.[56][58] These anaerobic microorganisms steadily increase in number during the middle stages of fermentation, and prefer to be kept at low temperatures of about 10℃, pH of 4.2-4, and remain in the presence of 1.5% - 4% NaCl.[53][56] A faster fermentation at a higher temperature may be chosen as well to accelerate the growth of bacterial cultures for a faster decrease in pH level.[53]

Since the raw cruciferous vegetables themselves are the source of LAB required for fermentation, no starter culture is required for the production of kimchi; rather, spontaneous fermentation occurs.[59] The total population of microorganisms present at the beginning of processing determine the outcome of fermentation, causing the final product to be highly variable in terms of quality and flavour.[56] Currently, there are no recommended approaches to control the microbial community during fermentation to predict the final outcome.[59] In the industrial production of kimchi, starter cultures made up of Leu. Mesenteroides, Leu. Citreum, and Lb. plantarum are used, which are often unsuccessful because they fail to outcompete the naturally occurring cultures on the raw materials.[53]

By-products of microorganism metabolism

The LAB bacteria produce lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and carbon dioxide as by-products during metabolism. Lactic acid quickly lowers the pH, creating an acidic environment that is uninhabitable for most other microorganisms that survived salting.[57] This also modifies the flavour of sub-ingredients and can increase the nutritive value of the raw materials, as the microbial community in the fermentation process can synthesize B vitamins and hydrolyze cellulose in plant tissues to free nutrients that are normally indigestible by the human gastrointestinal tract.[57] Hydrogen peroxide is formed by the oxidation of reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and provides an antibiotic to inhibit some undesirable microorganisms.[57] Carbon dioxide functions as a preservative, flushing out oxygen to create an anaerobic environment, as well as creating the desired carbonation in the final product.[57]

Varieties

 
Tongkimchi, gulgimchi (kimchi with additional oyster) and other banchan

Kimchi is one of the most important dishes in Korean cuisine. The Korean term "Kimchi" refers to fermented vegetables, and encompasses salt and seasoned vegetables.[40] It is mainly served as a side dish with every meal, but also can be served as a main dish.[60] Kimchi is mainly recognized as a spicy fermented cabbage dish globally.[21]

New variations of kimchi continue to be created,[61] and the taste can vary depending on the region and season.[62] Conventionally, the secret of kimchi preparation was passed down by mothers to their daughters in a bid to make them suitable wives to their husbands.[63] However, with the current technological advancement and increase in social media use, many individuals worldwide can now access the recipe for kimchi preparation. It is highly nutritious and offers deeply-flavored and spicy meals favorable to many classes of people, and illustrates the Korean culture as well.[63]

Kimchi can be categorized by main ingredients, regions or seasons. Korea's northern and southern sections have a considerable temperature difference.[64] There are over 180 recognized varieties of kimchi.[65] The most common kimchi variations are

  • Baechu-kimchi (배추김치) spicy napa cabbage kimchi, made from whole cabbage leaves
  • Baechu-geotjeori (배추겉절이) unfermented napa cabbage kimchi
  • Bossam-kimchi (보쌈김치) wrapped kimchi
  • Baek-kimchi (백김치) white kimchi, made without chili pepper
  • Dongchimi (동치미) a non-spicy watery kimchi
  • Nabak-kimchi (나박김치) a mildly spicy watery kimchi
  • Chonggak-kimchi (총각김치) cubed chonggak "ponytail" radish, a popular spicy kimchi
  • Kkakdugi (깍두기) spicy cubed Korean radish strongly-scented kimchi containing fermented shrimp
  • Oi-sobagi (오이소박이) cucumber kimchi that can be stuffed with seafood and chili paste, and is a popular choice during the spring and summer seasons
  • Pa-kimchi (파김치) spicy green onion kimchi
  • Yeolmu-kimchi (열무김치) is also a popular choice during the spring and summer, and is made with yeolmu radishes, and does not necessarily have to be fermented.
  • Gat-kimchi (갓김치), made with Indian mustard
  • Yangbaechu-kimchi (양배추 김치) spicy cabbage kimchi, made from "headed" cabbage leaves (as opposed to napa cabbage)

Kimchi from the northern parts of Korea tends to have less salt and red chili and usually does not include brined seafood for seasoning. Northern kimchi often has a watery consistency. Kimchi made in the southern parts of Korea, such as Jeolla-do and Gyeongsang-do, uses salt, chili peppers and myeolchijeot (멸치젓, brined anchovy allowed to ferment) or saeujeot (새우젓, brined shrimp allowed to ferment), myeolchiaekjeot (멸치액젓), kkanariaekjeot (까나리액젓), liquid anchovy jeot, similar to fish sauce used in Southeast Asia, but thicker.

Saeujeot (새우젓) or myeolchijeot is not added to the kimchi spice-seasoning mixture, but is simmered first to reduce odors, eliminate tannic flavor and fats, and then is mixed with a thickener made of rice or wheat starch (). This technique has been falling into disuse in the past 40 years.

Color

White kimchi are neither red nor spicy. It includes white napa cabbage kimchi and other varieties such as white radish kimchi (dongchimi). Watery white kimchi varieties are sometimes used as an ingredient in a number of dishes such as cold noodles in dongchimi brine (dongchimi-guksu).

Age

  • Geotjeori (겉절이) are fresh, unfermented kimchi.
  • Mugeun-ji (묵은지), also known as mugeun-kimchi (묵은김치), aged kimchi

Region

 
Empty traditional jars; aka onggi (옹기), used for storing kimchi, gochujang, doenjang, soy sauce and other pickled banchans (side dishes).

This regional classification dates back to 1960s and contains plenty of historical facts, but the current kimchi-making trends in Korea are generally different from those mentioned below.[64]

  • Pyongan-do (North Korea, outside of Pyongyang): Non-traditional ingredients have been adopted in rural areas due to severe food shortages.
  • Hamgyeong-do (Upper Northeast): Due to its proximity to the ocean, people in this particular region use fresh fish and oysters to season their kimchi.
  • Hwanghae-do (Midwest): The taste of kimchi in Hwanghae-do is not bland but not extremely spicy. Most kimchi from this region has less color since red chili flakes are not used. The typical kimchi for Hwanghae-do is called hobakji (호박지). It is made with pumpkin (bundi).
     
    Kimchi-buchimgae, a savoury Korean pancake with kimchi
  • Gyeonggi-do (Lower Midwest of Hwanghae-do)
  • Chungcheong-do (between Gyeonggi-do and Jeolla-do): Instead of using fermented fish, people in the region rely on salt and fermentation to make savory kimchi. Chungcheong-do has the most varieties of kimchi.
  • Gangwon-do (South Korea)/Kangwon-do (North Korea) (Mideast): In Gangwon-do, kimchi is stored for longer periods. Unlike other coastal regions in Korea, kimchi in this area does not contain much salted fish.
  • Jeolla-do (Lower Southwest): Salted yellow corvina and salted butterfish are used in this region to create different seasonings for kimchi.
  • Gyeongsang-do (Lower Southeast): This region's cuisine is saltier and spicier. The most common seasoning components include myeolchijeot (멸치젓) which produce a briny and savory flavor.
  • Foreign countries: In some places of the world people sometimes make kimchi with western cabbage and many other alternative ingredients such as broccoli.[66][67]

Season

Different types of kimchi were traditionally made at different times of the year, based on when various vegetables were in season and also to take advantage of hot and cold seasons before the era of refrigeration. Although the advent of modern refrigeration – including kimchi refrigerators specifically designed with precise controls to keep different varieties of kimchi at optimal temperatures at various stages of fermentation – has made this seasonality unnecessary, Koreans continue to consume kimchi according to traditional seasonal preferences.[68]

 
Dongchimi (동치미) is largely served during winter. Dongchimi is also used to make Donchimi noodles, a popular dish within hot months.

Spring

After a long period of consuming gimjang kimchi (김장김치) during the winter, fresh potherbs and vegetables were used to make kimchi. These kinds of kimchi were not fermented or even stored for long periods of time but were consumed fresh.

Summer

 
Yeolmukimchi, a cold, watery kimchi that is usually eaten with oily foods, is consumed mostly in the summer.

Yeolmu radishes and cucumbers are summer vegetables made into kimchi, yeolmu-kimchi (열무김치) which is eaten in several bites. Brined fish or shellfish can be added, and freshly ground dried chili peppers are often used.

Autumn

Baechu kimchi is prepared by inserting blended stuffing materials, called sok (literally inside), between layers of salted leaves of uncut, whole Napa cabbage. The ingredients of sok () can vary, depending on the regions and weather conditions. Generally, baechu kimchi used to have a strong salty flavor until the late 1960s, before which a large amount of myeolchijeot or saeujeot had been used.

Gogumasoon Kimchi is made from sweet potato stems.

Winter

Traditionally, the greatest varieties of kimchi were available during the winter. In preparation for the long winter months, many types of kimjang kimchi (김장 김치) were prepared in early winter and stored in the ground in large kimchi pots. Today, many city residents use modern kimchi refrigerators offering precise temperature controls to store kimjang kimchi. November and December are traditionally when people begin to make kimchi; women often gather together in each other's homes to help with winter kimchi preparations.[69] "Baechu kimchi" is made with salted baechu filled with thin strips of radish, parsley, pine nuts, pears, chestnuts, shredded red pepper, manna lichen (Korean석이 버섯; RRseogi beoseot), garlic, and ginger.

Korean preference

A 2004 book about vegetable preservation said that the preference of kimchi preparation in Korean households from the most prepared type of kimchi to less prepared types of kimchi was: baechu kimchi, being the most prepared type of kimchi, then kkakdugi, then dongchimi and then chonggak kimchi. The book said that baechu kimchi comprises more than seventy percent of marketed kimchi and radish kimchi comprises about twenty percent of marketed kimchi.[70]

Trade

South Korea spent around $129 million in 2017 to purchase 275,000 metric tons of foreign kimchi, more than 11 times the amount it exported, according to data released by the Korea Customs Service in 2017.[71] South Korea consumes 1.85 million metric tons of kimchi annually, or 36.1 kg per person.[72] It imports a significant fraction of that, mostly from China, and runs a $47.3 million kimchi trade deficit.[73]

Import and export of kimchi[74]
Year Volume (tons) Value (thousand USD)
Export Import Export Import Surplus
2020 39,748 281,187 144,511 152,426 −7,915
2019 29,628 306,050 104,992 130,911 −25,919
2018 28,197 290,742 97,456 138,215 −40,759
2017 24,311 275,631 81,393 128,679 −47,286
2016 23,490 253,432 78,900 121,485 −42,585
2015 23,111 224,124 73,543 113,237 −39,694
2014 24,742 212,938 84,033 104,396 −20,363
2013 25,631 220,218 89277 117,431 −28,154
2012 27,664 218,845 106,608 110,842 −4,234
2011 27,429 230,078 104,577 120,874 −16,297
2010 29,672 192,936 98,360 102,019 −3,659

Nutrition

 
Kimchi jjigae, a stew made of kimchi, vegetables, broth, and other ingredients, is a popular dish within the cold months.

Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fiber,[75] while being low in calories. The vegetables used in kimchi also contribute to intake of vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron.[76][77]

Nutritional composition of typical kimchi[78][not specific enough to verify]
Nutrients per 100 g Nutrients per 100 g
Food energy 32 Moisture 88.4 g
Crude protein 2.0 g Crude lipid 0.6 g
Total sugar 1.3 g Crude fiber 1.2 g
Crude ash 0.5 g Calcium 45 mg
Phosphorus 28 mg Vitamin A 492 IU
Vitamin B1 0.03 mg Vitamin B2 0.06 mg
Niacin 2.1 mg Vitamin C 21 mg
Vitamin contents of common kimchi and average vitamin contents of 4 kimchi during fermentation at 3–7°C
Fermentation
time (week)
Carotene
(μg%[clarification needed])
Vitamin
B1
(μg%)
Vitamin
B2
(μg%)
Vitamin
B12
(μg%)
Niacin
(μg%)
Vitamin C
(mg%)
0 49.5a 41.7 66 0.17 740 28.9
1 44.0 (35.4)b 41.6 (40.1) 47 (54) 0.09 (0.09) 781 (747) 25.0 (25.3)
2 32.0 (30.4) 70.9 (61.9) 110 (99) 0.19 (0.20) 928 (861) 27.8 (28.5)
3 26.6 (26.9) 79.1 (87.5) 230 (157) 0.25 (0.33) 901 (792) 23.6 (22.3)
4 21.0 (25.3) 62.7 (70.8) 35 (95) 0.20 (0.26) 591 (525) 16.7 (16.0)
5 24.2 (20.1) 53.3 (49.1) 40 (37) 0.10 (0.16) 11.16 (11.0)
aNaturally fermented baechu kimchi
bAverage levels of four kimchis; common kimchi +3 different starter inoculated kimchis
Source: Hui et al. (2005) who cited Lee et al. (1960)[79]
General components of kimchi (per 100g of edible portion)
Components Baechu-kimchi Kaktugi Gat-kimchi Pa-kimchi Baek-kimchi Yeolmu-kimchi Dongchimi Nabak-kimchi
Calorie (kcal) 18 33 41 52 8 38 11 9
Moisture (%) 90.8 88.4 83.2 80.7 95.7 84.5 94.2 95.1
Crude protein (g) 2 1.6 3.9 3.4 0.7 3.1 0.7 0.8
Crude lipid (g) 0.5 0.3 0.9 0.8 0.1 0.6 0.1 0.1
Crude ash (g) 2.8 2.3 3.5 3.3 1.5 3.2 2 1.5
Carbohydrate (g) 3.9 7.4 8.5 11.8 2 8.6 3 2.5
Dietary fiber (g) 3 2.8 4 5.1 1.4 3.3 0.8 1.5
Source: Tamang (2015) who cited Lee (2006)[80]
Vitamin content of kimchi (per 100g of edible portion)
Vitamins Baechu-kimchi Kaktugi Gat-kimchi Pa-kimchi Baek-kimchi Yeolmu-kimchi Dongchimi Nabak-kimchi
Vitamin A (RE) 48 38 390 352 9 595 15 77
Vitamin A
(β-carotene) (μg)
290 226 2342 2109 53 3573 88 460
Vitamin B1 (mg) 0.06 0.14 0.15 0.14 0.03 0.15 0.02 0.03
Vitamin B2 (mg) 0.06 0.05 0.14 0.14 0.02 0.29 0.02 0.06
Niacin (mg) 0.8 0.5 1.3 0.9 0.3 0.6 0.2 0.5
Vitamin C (mg) 14 19 48 19 10 28 9 10
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.19 0.13
Folic acid (μg) 43.3 58.9 74.8
Vitamin E (mg) 0.7 0.2 1.3
Not detected: vitamin A (retinol), pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin K
Source: Tamang (2015) who cited Lee (2006)[80]

A 2003 article said that South Koreans consume 18kg (40lbs) of kimchi per person annually.[81] Many credit the Korean Miracle in part to eating the dish.[37] A 2015 book cited a 2011 source that said that adult Koreans eat from 50 grams (0.11 lb) to 200 grams (0.44 lb) of kimchi a day.[80]

Dishes usually served with kimchi

Kimchi is known to be a traditional side dish as it is almost always served along with other side dishes in most Korean family households and restaurants. Kimchi can be eaten alone or with white or brown rice, but it is also included in recipes of other traditional dishes, including porridges, soups, and rice cakes. Kimchi is also the basis for many derivative dishes such as kimchi stew (김치찌개; gimchijjigae), kimchi pancake (김치전; gimchibuchimgae), kimchi soup (김칫국; gimchiguk), and kimchi fried rice (김치볶음밥; gimchibokkeumbap).

Army base stew (부대찌개; Budae-jjigae) is a popular dish made with spam, sausage, and kimchi. It originated after the Korean war with ingredients that would be scrounged from the army.

Procedure

The first step in the making of any kimchi is to slice the cabbage or daikon into smaller, uniform pieces to increase the surface area.[82] The pieces are then coated with salt as a preservative method, as this draws out the water to lower the free water activity. This inhibits the growth of undesirable microorganisms by limiting the water available for them to utilize for growth and metabolism.[82] The salting stage can use 5 to 7% salinity for 12 hours, or 15% for 3 to 7 hours.[57] The excess water is then drained away, and seasoning ingredients are added.[82] The sugar that is sometimes added also acts to bind free water that still remains, further reducing free water activity. Finally, the brined vegetables are placed into an airtight canning jars and left to sit for 24 to 48 hours at room temperature.[82] The ideal salt concentration during the fermentation process is about 3%.[57] Since the fermentation process results in the production of carbon dioxide, the jar should be "burped" daily to release the gas.[82] The more fermentation that occurs, the more carbon dioxide will be incorporated, which results in a very carbonated-drink-like affect.

Food regulations

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has regulations for the commercial production of kimchi. The final product should have a pH ranging from 4.2 to 4.5.[83] Any low-acidity ingredients with a pH above 4.6, including white daikon and napa cabbage, should not be left under conditions that enable the growth of undesirable microorganisms and require a written illustration of the procedure designed to ensure this available if requested.[83] This procedural design should include steps that maintain sterility of the equipment and products used, and the details of all sterilization processes.[83]

Recent history

1996 kimchi standard dispute with Japan

In 1996, Korea protested against Japanese commercial production of kimchi arguing that the Japanese-produced product (kimuchi, キムチ) was different from kimchi. In particular, Japanese kimuchi was not fermented and more similar to asazuke. Korea lobbied for an international standard from the Codex Alimentarius, an organization associated with the World Health Organization that defines voluntary standards for food preparation for international trade purposes.[81][84] In 2001, the Codex Alimentarius published a voluntary standard defining kimchi as "a fermented food that uses salted napa cabbages as its main ingredient mixed with seasonings, and goes through a lactic acid production process at a low temperature", but which neither specified a minimum amount of fermentation nor forbade the use of any additives.[85] Following the inclusion of the kimchi standard, kimchi exports in Korea did increase, but so did the production of kimchi in China and the import of Chinese kimchi into Korea.[38]

1998 to 2007 motherland tours

South Korea developed programs for adult Korean adoptees to return to South Korea and learn about what it means to be Korean. One of these programs was learning how to make kimchi.[86]

2010 Kimchi ingredient price crisis

Due to heavy rainfall shortening the harvesting time for cabbage and other main ingredients for kimchi in 2010, the price of kimchi ingredients and kimchi itself rose greatly. Korean and international newspapers described the rise in prices as a national crisis.[87] Some restaurants stopped offering kimchi as a free side dish, which The New York Times compared to an American hamburger restaurant no longer offering free ketchup.[69] In response to the kimchi price crisis, the South Korean government announced the temporary reduction of tariffs on imported cabbage to coincide with the kimjang season.[88]

2012 effective ban of Korean kimchi exports to China

Since 2012, the Chinese government has effectively banned Korean kimchi exports to China through government regulations. Ignoring the standards of kimchi outlined by the Codex Alimentarius, China defined kimchi as a derivative of one of its own cuisines, called pao cai.[89] However, due to significantly different preparation techniques from pao cai, kimchi has significantly more lactic acid bacteria through its fermentation process, which exceeds China's regulations.[90] Since 2012, commercial exports of Korean kimchi to China has reached zero; the only minor amounts of exports accounting for Korean kimchi are exhibition events held in China.[89]

Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Kimchi-related items have been inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by both South and North Korea. This makes kimchi the second intangible heritage that was submitted by two countries, the other one being the folk song "Arirang" which was also submitted by both the Koreas.[91]

Submitted by South Korea (inscribed 2013)

Kimjang, the tradition of making and sharing of kimchi that usually takes place in late autumn, was added to the list as "Gimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea". The practice of Gimjang reaffirms Korean identity and strengthens family cooperation. Gimjang is also an important reminder for many Koreans that human communities need to live in harmony with nature.[92]

Submitted by North Korea (inscribed 2015)

North Korean kimchi-making was inscribed on the list in December 2015[91] as "Tradition of kimchi-making in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea".[93] North Korean kimchi tends to be less spicy and red than South Korean kimchi.[94] Seafood is used less often and less salt is added. Additional sugar is used to help with fermentation in the cold climate.[95]

Boycott in China

A 2017 article in The New York Times said that anti-Korean sentiment in China has risen after South Korea's acceptance of the deployment of THAAD in South Korea, government-run Chinese news media has encouraged the boycott of South Korean goods, and Chinese nationalists have vowed to not eat kimchi.[96] The move was criticized by other Chinese nationalists, who noted that China officially considered Koreans an integral ethnic group in the multinational state, and that kimchi is also indigenous to the Koreans in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture.[97] Chinese nationalists have also criticized Korean kimchi, by calling them "merely pickles",[98] whereas Chinese kimchi pao cai's literal meaning is "pickled vegetable".[citation needed]

2020 kimchi origin dispute with China

In November 2020, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) posted new regulations for the making of pao cai.[99] The same month, BBC News reported that Chinese Communist Party-owned tabloid Global Times claimed the new ISO standard was "an international standard for the kimchi industry led by China".[100] This sparked condemnation from South Korean media and people[101][102][103][104][105][106][107][108] However, as reported in the Dong-A Ilbo, the Global Times explained the controversy "as a misunderstanding in translation"[109] and stated that "Kimchi refers to a kind of fermented cabbage dish that plays an integral role in Korean cuisine, while paocai, or Sichuan paocai, refers to pickled vegetables that are popular originally in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, but now in most parts of northern China."[109]

The Korea Herald subsequently reported that the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism presented new guidelines stating that kimchi's proper Chinese translation is "xin qi." A previous guideline had stated that "pao cai" was an acceptable translation for kimchi.[110]

2021 Chinese kimchi production quality controversy

In March 2021, a man claiming to be working for the kimchi industry in China posted a controversial scene of kimchi production in China on Weibo.[111] In the posted photo, cabbages for kimchi are being processed in an open pit. The fork of an excavator is dipped in the pool of cabbages, and a person with no clothes on is sorting the Chinese cabbages. The Chinese authorities explained to the South Korean Ambassador to China that these "picked cabbages" are for the Chinese domestic market and not for exports.[112] In response, South Korean authorities heightened inspections on kimchi imports from China.

Gallery

See also

References

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Further reading