If you are a fan of K-Pop, I am sure you must have heard about the famous Korean dish ‘Kimchi.’ This staple food of Korea has gained worldwide recognition. But why is it so popular, and what is Kimchi exactly? We are going to answer all your questions.
What is Kimchi?
Simply put, Kimchi is a dish made from fermented vegetables, such as carrots, napa cabbage, and daikon radish. It is seasoned with different flavors including garlic, gochugaru, ginger, spring onions, jeotgal, and so on. Kimchi is a versatile dish and can also be used in stews and soups.
What is Kimchi? Is it a side dish? Well, it is a side dish but is used as a condiment too, and almost every Korean meal is bound to have Kimchi. It is spicy and flavorful and is hands down one of the best dishes.
This succulent dish is not only tasty but healthy and nutritious too. So, now that we know ‘what is Kimchi?’, let us take a look at the health benefits this dish offers.
What are the benefits of kimchi?
Kimchi is one of those dishes that you can eat regularly without any regrets, all because it is healthy and nutritious.
1. It aids digestion
People with weak digestion often feel relieved after eating fermented foods. Kimchi too is a fermented food and a good source of probiotics. To keep the gut healthy, one must consume healthy bacteria, and the same can be achieved by eating kimchi. It contains lactobacilli bacteria that are also present in yogurt and fermented dairy products. Consuming good bacteria aids digestion and may also relieve the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems such as inflammation, IBS, etc. All in all, it is a great food for your gut health, so eat your kimchi and keep your stomach happy.
2. It is good for your immune system
Various studies indicate that eating kimchi can help you boost your immune system. Kimchi contains good bacteria that may be helpful in fighting inflammation and strengthening the immune system. In addition, kimchi contains Vitamin C which helps a lot in boosting immune health.
3. Kimchi can keep your heart healthy
Kimchi is prepared with ingredients like ginger, garlic, and red pepper, all of which are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants help in protecting us from chronic foods like health diseases. Apart from that, kimchi also helps support healthy cholesterol levels, thereby promoting heart health.
4. It can reduce inflammation
Chronic inflammation in the body can cause lots of serious health problems such as joint pain, stomach pain, and so on. It is best to eat an anti-inflammatory diet on a regular basis to steer clear of health problems. Probiotics present in this Korean dish have an anti-inflammatory effect on the gut, which in turn prevents lots of health problems.
5. Kimchi is good for the eyes
Kimchi is usually prepared with different vegetables including a cabbage that is a good source of beta carotene antioxidants and boosts eye health.
As we grow older, it is essential to eat a balanced meal filled with nutrients to keep our eyes healthy. So, add kimchi to your diet and keep your eyes healthy.
6. Kimchi is good for the brain
Good gut health means a healthy-functioning brain. If your digestion is weak, it somehow affects your brain and the entire nervous system. When you eat your kimchi, you are not only nourishing your gut but also improving your brain health.
7. Kimchi can make you shed some pounds
Although this popular Korean dish won’t magically make you lose weight, it can be helpful in weight loss. It is a low-calorie, spicy food and is a good option for those trying to lose weight. When you add a good portion of spices and vegetables to a dish, it makes them filling and tasty. Eating such foods can make you feel satisfied and also help you control portion size, thereby making you shed some pounds.
8. It may help you keep your cholesterol levels in check
Although it is not clear how kimchi helps in lowering cholesterol, several studies have found that people who eat this dish on a regular basis tend to have lower levels of LDL (bad cholesterol).
So, now that we have understood all about ‘what is kimchi’, and the health benefits of eating this Korean side dish, let us know something more about this delicious Korean dish.
What is kimchi and what does it taste like?
Kimchi is a wonderful dish rich in flavors. It is made from fermented vegetables, and during the process, the vegetables become a bit softer, which makes them easy to digest. This is a dish that needs a perfect blend of flavors, veggies, and acidity to get a perfect taste.
Most kimchi recipes include Korean chili, which is medium hot and has a fruity and smoky flavor. Korean chili is also known as gochugaru and is sun-dried, and then made into powdered form.
This chili and other herbs such as ginger and garlic are added to kimchi to make it spicy. A few kimchi recipes also include fish sauce to give them an “umami” flavor.
What is kimchi exactly? It is a dish with a perfect amount of fermented veggies and flavors and is spicy, and tangy.
All in all, you can’t ever be bored of this dish!
How to make kimchi?
We have understood all about ‘what is kimchi’, so let’s take a look at the kimchi recipe now.
Kimchi ingredients to be used:
Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese cabbage. This is used as the base of this Korean dish.
Daikon radish – If you want to prepare it the traditional way, then use daikon radish, or carrot can also work fine.
Korean pepper flakes – Traditionally known as gochugaru, this is an important ingredient used to prepare kimchi.
Garlic – This brings an extra flavor to the dish, but it is highly recommended to not overuse it.
Ginger – Just like garlic, this also brings freshness to kimchi.
Green onions – These are used for extra flavor.
Sugar – Just a pinch of sugar and you are good to go with the fermentation process.
Non-iodized salt – Last but not least, you must have kosher or iodine-free salt. After all, which dish is complete without salt, right?
Method to prepare kimchi
First of all, wash your hands thoroughly before you start preparing the dish. Listen up folks, this is an important thing to do before preparing any dish! Wash supplies too with hot water.
Then, take napa cabbage and rinse it properly. Cut it into small quarters and put the chopped pieces of cabbage in a large bowl with salt and toss properly to make sure all cabbage pieces are coated well with salt. Add enough water to cover the cabbage and keep stirring until the salt is dissolved. Keep it aside for two hours, giving a stir every half an hour to make sure the cabbage has wilted down properly.
After two hours, rinse it well, and drain out the excess water.
While napa cabbage is sitting in saltwater, you can prepare the paste. Take a food processor and add raw sugar, Korean pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic to it with some water. If you want an umami taste, you can also add a little amount of miso paste to it. Blend until smooth.
Then take the well-rinsed napa cabbage and mix it thoroughly with daikon radish, pepper paste, and green onions in a large bowl. Mix them well with your hands, or you can even wear gloves for this process.
The last step is fermentation, which is actually a very crucial step and can make or break your kimchi.
Take a clean glass jar and put the mixture into it. Press it down gently so that the vegetables are properly submerged in the juices. Leave a bit of empty space at the top of the glass jar, and then seal shut with a lid. Keep this glass jar at room temperature, away from direct sunlight for three to five days to allow it to form. Check on it daily and push the cabbage down to prevent leaks.
How to know if your kimchi is prepared? When the cabbage becomes a bit soft and the taste is sour, that’s when you know the kimchi is done!
If you like your kimchi softer and sour, then you should ferment it for a long period of time. You can taste it every day, and keep it in the refrigerator when it’s the perfect amount ripe. That is because once you refrigerate it, the fermentation process will stop, and you can use it for weeks to months.
This was all about ‘what is kimchi’, its benefits, and the method of preparation. It is such a delicious taste that one can’t get enough of it definitely. So, add kimchi to your diet and add flavor to your life.
Also Read: Top 10 tasty & traditional Chinese food dishes