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Kimchi – spicy, fermented vegetables from Korea

One of Korea’s national dishes is finding its way onto European menus.


Kimchi is a mix of vegetables, with chilli so that it’s hot and spicy, that has been fermented in lactic acid. The main ingredient is usually Chinese cabbage, but you can add other vegetables, such as carrots, radishes and sweet peppers. Kimchi is extremely good for you and – like German sauerkraut – contains a lot of vitamin C, as well as vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Make it yourself

You can buy ready-to-eat kimchi in many Asia stores, but homemade kimchi tastes far better. It’s not difficult to make, but it does take a fair amount of time. Here’s a basic recipe that you can vary as you like. Start with Chinese cabbage, wash it, discard any inedible leaves and cut it into thin strips. Add salt and massage it in for several minutes. Put it into a big container, press it down well and weight it down with a plastic bag filled with water so that no oxygen gets to the vegetables as they ferment. Alternatively, simply cover the cabbage in salt water. Leave it for 12 hours in a cool place.


You can add grated carrot, peppers, spring onions, ginger, chilli and garlic. You decide for yourself how much chilli you want to add. There are also variations with fish and seafood. Mix it all up by hand – wearing disposable gloves, will make sure the chilli doesn’t burn your skin. Then fill the whole mixture into a large kilner jar, pour in any saltwater still left, make sure the vegetables are completely submerged and close it loosely. Stir the mix once a day making sure it’s always submerged. After a week the kimchi is ready to eat, from then on keep the jar tightly closed.

A unique taste that takes some getting used to

Stored in the fridge your kimchi will last about six months. The aromas developed during fermentation give the mixture a unique flavour. Some people find it takes some getting used to. Use kimchi on a sandwich or in a wrap, add it to soups and salads and as an exotic side dish for tofu, meat and fish.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de