What Is Kimchi and Why You Should Eat It

Kimchi: a probiotic-rich fermented Korean staple. 

Homemade Probiotic Rich Fermented Napa Kimchi
Homemade Probiotic Rich Fermented Korean Kimchi

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a traditional, slightly spicy Korean sauerkraut made from lacto-fermented vegetables like napa cabbage, daikon radish, carrots, garlic, ginger, and Korean chili (gochugaru). It is served with almost every meal in Korea as both a side dish and a condiment, making it a Korean staple. The complex flavors, acidity, and spiciness of kimchi can enhance even the dullest of dishes and bring them to life. Additionally, lacto-fermentation helps preserve the vegetables, preserving shelf life. It’s important to note that while kimchi can be made with any vegetable, cabbage and daikon radishes are the most common.

What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

Kimchi has a unique and complex acidic flavor and can be challenging to describe. Since kimchi is lacto-fermented, the fermentation process adds a softness to the crunchy vegetables, leaving their texture similar to a traditional sauerkraut. From there, the softened crunchy texture is backed by the pleasant acidity and subtle spiciness of the gochugaru. Also, through fermentation, the flavors of the herbs and veggies combine to develop kimchi’s robust and bold flavor, ranging from sweet to sour. Some people find kimchi to be an acquired taste similar to bleu cheese, vegemite, or anchovies. If you find yourself in this group, once the taste is acquired, it is hard to stay away.

What is Gochugaru?

Gochugaru is a dried Korean chili flake or powder. This is what gives kimchi its slightly smoky and spicy flavor. Gochugaru is also the same pepper used to make gochujang, a spicy Korean chili paste. To make gochugaru, chili peppers are typically dried in the sun and then processed into either powder or flaked form. In addition to the smoky and spicy flavor, these peppers give kimchi its signature red color. The versatility of kimchi ingredients is further showcased by the seemingly endless variations. Combining the chilis with garlic, ginger, and a variety of others herbs – with some recipes calling for fish sauce or seafood – gives kimchi its umami flavor.

Kimchi Ingredients
Kimchi Ingredients

What are the Health benefits of kimchi?

For starters, kimchi uses healthy ingredients 

Kimchi is made with vegetables, so rightly so; it’s packed with nutrients, and with nutrients come health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B, and C, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Kimchi is also a low-calorie, high-fiber option to add to your diet.

Kimchi, Fermentation, and Gut Health

Kimchi is a prebiotic and probiotic. 

Kimchi contains lactic acid bacteria, which helps promote digestion and may boost the immune system. Stanford University researchers ran a study on fermented foods and found that individuals who ate a diet high in fermented foods such as kimchi increased the diversity of their gut microbes, which is associated with improved health (1). Another Harvard study notes that fermented foods are linked to improved heart health and better digestion. Additionally, the fermentation process breaks down certain components of the vegetables that can be difficult to digest, making it easier for your body to absorb all of its healthy nutrients.

Fermented foods like kimchi are both prebiotic and probiotic. As kimchi has gained global recognition, we have found that it is a great source of probiotics, such as lactic acid bacteria, which are linked with many health benefits.

How to Eat Kimchi?

Remember, kimchi is both a condiment and a side, so you don’t have to do anything; eat it right out of the jar.

Eat it right out of the jar

Besides this, there are endless ways to cook with kimchi, and your only limit here is your imagination.

How to Cook With Kimchi?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Add it to rice (Bibimbap)
  • Make dumplings (Kimchi Mandu)
  • Top off a grain bowl
  • Make a soup (Kimchi Jjigae)
  • Eat it with eggs
  • Make Savory Pancakes or Fritters (Kimchi Buchimgae)
  • Add to sandwiches
The Complete Wide Mouth Mason Jar Fermentation Kit

How to Make Kimchi?

It’s easy; once you know the basics of lacto-fermentation, you just need to gather supplies. Be sure to check out our Complete Wide Mouth Mason Jar Fermentation Kit. This includes everything you need to get four separate ferments going simultaneously, minus recipe ingredients and the mason jars. 

Now that you have the tools ready, simply follow our recipe below.

Traditional Napa Kimchi Recipe

How to Make Kimchi Step by Step

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