Infobox Korean name

hanja=linktext|沈|菜 (archaic; see article)

Kimchi, also spelled gimchi or kimchee, is a traditional Korean fermented dish made of vegetables with varied seasonings, most commonly referring to the spicy baechu variety. Kimchi is the most common banchan, or side dish eaten at every Korean meal with rice. Kimchi is also a common ingredient and combined with other ingredients to make dishes such as kimchi stew ("kimchi jjigae") and kimchi fried rice ("kimchi bokkeumbap"). Kimchi is so common in Korea cuisine that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) developed space kimchi to accompany the first Korean astronaut to the Russian-manned space ship Soyuz. [ [ Kimchi goes to space, along with first Korean astronaut] ]


The history of kimchi can be traced back to ancient times. References to kimchi can be found as early as 2600–3000 years ago. [ko icon [ The origin of the etymology on Kimchi] from Kimchi Expo 2003 website] The first text-written evidence of its existence can be found in the first Chinese poetry book, "Sikyeong" (hangul:시경 hanja:). In this book, kimchi was referred to as "“Ji”". The term "Ji" was used until the premodern term "“Dimchae”" was adopted. [ko icon [ 김치의 이름(명칭)] from Hankyorei21]

Early kimchi was made of only cabbage, and in the 12th century people began to include other spices to create different flavors, such as sweet and sour flavors, and colors such as white and orange. [ Kimchi Museum Official Website] ]

Chili peppers, now a major ingredient in most forms of kimchi, were unknown in Korea until the early 17th century. Chili peppers originated from the New World and were introduced to East Asia through trade. [ko icon cite web|url= =46|title=고추|work=Encyclopedia of Korean national culture|accessdate=2006-12-09] , specifically, the Portuguese trading in Nagasaki. This particular style of kimchi made with chili peppers and "baechu", a variety of Korean cabbage, gained popularity in the 19th century and "baechu kimchi" continues to be the most common and popular form of kimchi today. [ [ History and Development of Kimchi as Korean Food] from Tour2Korea]


Kimchi varieties are determined by the main vegetable ingredients and the mix of seasonings used to flavor the kimchi. The most popular type of kimchi is the baechu (a type of Chinese cabbage) variety but there are many regional and seasonal varieties. Popular variants include "ggakdugi" which is a kimchi made with cubed radishes, "pa kimchi" (made with scallions),"chonggakkimchi" and "oisobaegi" (hangul: 오이소박이), a cucumber kimchi with hot and spicy seasonings. "Ggaennip" (hangul: 깻잎) kimchi features layers of perilla leaves marinated in soy sauce and vinegar and other spices. "mukenji" which is bachukimchi's kind is good at "kimchijjigae"

The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has documented 187 historic and current varieties of kimchi. Although the most common seasonings include brine, garlic, scallions and ground chili pepper, seasonings and ingredients can be replaced or added depending on the type of kimchi being made. Common seasonings also include ginger, onions, low-sodium "aekjeot" (hangul: 액젓, fish sauce) as well as fruit or fresh seafood. "Aekjeot" has replaced high-sodium "myeolchijeot" (salted fermented anchovies) and "saeujeot" (salted fermented small shrimps) since the early 1970s.

Kimchi varieties

Kimchi can be categorized by main ingredients, regions or seasons. Korea's northern and southern sections have a considerable temperature difference. [ "Kimchi." Yahoo Korean Encyclopedia] ] Northern regions tend to have longer winters compared to the southern regions of Korea. Kimchi from the northern parts of Korea tend to have less salt as well as less red chilli and usually do not have 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" (hangul: 멸치젓, brined anchovy allowed to ferment) or "saeujeot" (hangul: 새우젓, brined shrimp allowed to ferment), "myeolchi aekjeot" (hangul: 멸치액젓," kanariacjeot" 까나리 액젓, liquid anchovy jeot, similar to fish sauce used in Southeast Asia, but thicker). In the Seoul area "saeujeot" is preferred.

"Saeujeot" (hangul: 새우젓) or "meyolchijeot" (hangul: 멸치젓) is not added to the kimchi spice-seasoning mixture, but is simmered to reduce odors, eliminate tannic flavor and fats, and then is mixed with a thickener made of rice or wheat starch (hangul: 풀). This technique has been falling into oblivion for the past 40 years.

Other brined dog meat "jeot" can be used, but are no longer common as modern commercialization has made 액젓 (either 멸치젓 or 새우젓) more affordable and convenient.

White kimchi ("baek kimchi") is baechu seasoned without chili pepper and is neither red in color nor spicy. White radish kimchi ("dongchimi") is another example of a popular kimchi that is not spicy. The watery white kimchi varieties are a popular ingredient in a number of dishes such as cold noodles in "dongchimi" brine ("dongchimi guksu") and is eaten widely during the summer months.

By region

(The entire section's reference)This regional classification dates back to 1960s and contains plenty of historical facts but the current kimchi-making trends in Korea are generally different than mentioned below.

* "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 "Hwanghaedo" can be best described as "moderate" — not bland but not overly spicy. Most kimchi from this region has less color since red chili flakes are not used. The typical kimchi for Hwanghaedo is called pumpkin kimchi ("bundi").
* "Gyeonggi-do" (Lower Midwest of "Hwanghaedo") "Gyeonggido" kimchi is known for its eye-catching decorations.
* "Chungcheong-do" (Between "Gyeonggido" and "Jeollado")Instead of using fermented fish, people in the region rely on salt and fermentation to make savory kimchi. "Chungcheongdo" is known for the greatest varieties of kimchi.
* "Gangwon-do" (MidEast)In Gangwondo, kimchi is stored for longer periods of time. Unlike other coastal regions in Korea, kimchi in this area does not contain much salted fish.
* "Jeolla-do" (Lower Southwest)Salted yellow corvine and salted butterfish are used in this region to create different seasonings for kimchi.
* "Gyeongsang-do" (Lower Southeast)This region is famous for salty and spicy flavors in its dishes and their kimchi is no exception. The most common seasoning components includes myeolchijeot (멸치젓) which produce a briny and savory flavor.

Unlike French wine, kimchi is not commercially classified in terms of vintage and district or Appellation d'origine contrôlée but classification of kimchi by region may seem gradually outdated and lose significance for a variety of reasons.

By season

Traditional means of kimchi storage and availability of produce has resulted in different kinds of kimchi being made and consumed at different seasons of the year. In spite of modern kimchi refrigerators specifically designed with precise controls to keep different varieties of kimchi at optimal temperatures for various stages of fermentation, consumption of seasonal kimchi persists in Korean food culture. [cite news|url=|title=High-tech kimchi refrigerators keep Korea's favorite food crisp|publisher=Hong Kong Trade Development Council|date=2002-03-14|accessdate=2008-02-14] (The entire section's reference) [ko icon [ "Kimchi in Korea: By Season." Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp.] ]

* Spring Traditionally, after a long period of consuming "gimjang kimchi" (hangul: 김장김치) during the winter, fresh potherbs and vegetables were popular for making kimchi. These kinds of kimchi were not fermented or even stored for long periods of time but were freshly consumed.
* SummerYoung summer radishes and cucumbers are popular summer vegetables made into kimchi, "yeolmu kimchi" (hangul: 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 the most common type of kimchi in the fall. It is prepared by inserting blended stuffing materials, called "sok" (literally meaning inside), between layers of salted leaves of uncut, whole Napa cabbage (also widely called Chinese cabbage). The ingredients of "sok" (hangul: 속) can vary, depending on the different regions and weather conditions. Generally, "baechoo kimchi" used to have a strong salty flavor until late 1960s when a large amount of "myeolchijeot" or "saeujeot" had been used. Since the advent of "aekjeot" (액젓, Korean fish sauce) in the early 1970s, however, low-sodium kimchi is preferably made both at homes and at factories.
* Winter Traditionally, the greatest varieties of kimchi were available during the winter. In preparation for the long winter months, many types of kimjang kimchi (hangul: 김장 김치) were prepared in early winter and stored in the ground in large kimchi pots. These days, kimchi refrigerators offering precise temperature controls are used to store kimjang kimchi. It is often November or December when people begin to make kimchi; women often gather together in each others' homes to help with winter kimchi preparations. White kimchi ("baek kimchi"), is a common and popular kimchi to make during the wintertime. "Baechu kimchi" is made with salted baechu (a type of Chinese cabbage) filled with thin strips of radish, parsley, pine nuts, pears, chestnuts, shredded red pepper, manna lichen (석이버섯), garlic, and ginger.

Nutrition and health

Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fiber, while being low in calories. One serving also provides up to 80% of the daily required amount of vitamin C and carotene. [ [ Bae, Christina. "Kimchi?Korean Fermented Food." University of Bristol.] ] Most types of kimchi contain onions, garlic, and peppers, all of which are salutary. The vegetables being made into kimchi also contribute to the overall nutritional value. Kimchi is rich in vitamin A, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, and iron,cite web|url=||title=Food in Korea|accessdate=2007-01-30] cite web|url=||title=Kimchi|accessdate=2007-01-30] and contains a number of lactic acid bacteria, among those the typical species "Lactobacillus kimchii".] [Jung-Sook Leea, Gun-Young Heoa, Jun Won Leea, Yun-Jung Oha, Jeong A Parka, Yong-Ha Parka, Yu-Ryang Pyunb and Jong Seog Ahn; Analysis of kimchi microflora using denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis. International Journal of Food Microbiology Volume 102, Issue 2, 15 July 2005, Pages 143-150 ] [Myungjin Kim and Jongsik Chun; Bacterial community structure in kimchi, a Korean fermented vegetable food, as revealed by 16S rRNA gene analysis. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 103, Issue 1, 15 August 2005, Pages 91-96 ]

Kimchi has a reputation of being a healthy food. The magazine Health named kimchi in its list of top five "World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly retarding cancer growth. [Raymond, Joan "World's Healthiest Foods: Kimchi (Korea)" Health Magazine. ] However, some research focused on high-sodium dietary dependence has found overconsumption of kimchi and doenjang ( hangul: 된장) to be a risk factor in gastric cancer (most likely due to nitrates and salt) while unfermented alliums and unfermented seafood were found to be protective factors.Nan et al., Kimchi and soybean pastes are risk factors of gastric cancer ] One oncological study found one type of kimchi to be a protective factor against gastric cancer while two other types of such high-sodium kimchi as dongchimi (hangul: 동치미) were risk factors. [Kim et al., Dietary factors and gastric cancer in Korea: A case-control study. International Journal of Cancer 2001; Volume 97, Issue 4, Pages 531-535]

per 100 g of edible portion

Kimchi in popular culture

*When taking photographs, South Koreans often will use the word "kimchi" in the same way as English speakers tend to use the word "cheese". [ [ Food in Korea (Basic Sauces, Kim Chi, Ceremonial Food, Table Manners and Table Settings, Traditional Korean Meal, Traditional Ceremonial Meal) ] ]

*"Gwangju Kimchi Festival" is an annual event held in Gwangju city in southern Korea and is open to locals and tourists. [cite web|url= |title=Mouth-watering kimchi festival underway |publisher=The Korean Overseas Cuture and Information Service (KOIS)|author=Han Aran |date=2007-10-17]

*In 20th century U.S. slang, "kimchi" was occasionally used in the phrase "in deep kimchi", a euphemism for "in deep trouble" and was used in a number of awkward situations. [] ["War Slang: American Fighting Words and Phrases Since the Civil War" By Paul Dickson ISBN 1574887106 pages 240 and 247]

ee also

*Kimchi jjigae
*Kimchi bokkeumbap
*Korean cuisine
*Foods containing tyramine
*List of Korea-related topics
*List of English words of Korean origin
*Fermentation (food)
*Chowder (TV series)




*cite web|url= |title=Kimchi > Overview |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS)|accessdate=2008-05-18
*cite web|url= |title=Kimchi > Kimchi and Koreans |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS)|accessdate=2008-05-18
*cite web|url= |title=Kimchi >The History of Kimchi |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS)|accessdate=2008-05-18
*cite web|url= |title=Kimchi >The Ingredients for Kimchi and Their Characteristics |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS) |accessdate=2008-05-18
*cite web|url= |title=Kimchi >The Scientific Nature and Nutritional Aspects of Kimchi |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS) |accessdate=2008-05-18
*cite web|url= |title=Bulgogi |publisher=The Korean Culture and Information Service (KOIS) |accessdate=2008-05-18

Further reading

*cite web|url=,M1 |title=Handbook of Vegetable Preservation and Processing |publisher=CRC Press |accessdate=2008-05-18 |isbn=0824743016 |pages=p. 189-222 |author=Park, Kun-Young |coauthors=Cheigh, Hong-Sik |date=2003
*cite web|url=,M1 |title=Understanding Global Cultures |publisher=Sage Publications Inc |accessdate=2008-05-18 |isbn=0761929800 |pages=p. 123-130 |author=Martin J. Gannon |date=2004

External links

* [ The A to Z's of Kimchi] - The Official Korea Tourism Guide Site
* [ History and general information about kimchi] from The Korean Overseas Information Service (KOIS)
* [ Korean traditional kimchi] site sponsored by the Korean Agro-Fisheries Trade Corp.
* [ Kimchi > History] at the Korea Tourism Organization official site
* [ Information about Kimchi and museum] Kimchi Field Museum
* [ Korea Food Research Institute]
* [ General information about kimchi] from Life in
* [ A detailed analysis of Kimchi's influence on Korean life] The Walrus
*ko [ How to make Kimchi (video)] at youtube

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