Whenever you walk into a Korean restaurant, you will no doubt find kimchi on the menu. Kimchi is a Korean staple and is served as a side dish or is added to the main meal due to its explosion of flavour.
What is Kimchi?
In a nutshell, kimchi is fermented vegetables. The main ingredients include Chinese cabbage or salted napa cabbage, radish, onion, garlic, and spices. This dish can be quite spicy due to the red pepper flakes and can give a meal a good kick!
History of Kimchi
Kimchi originated in South Korea when the Koreans first started learning the concept of agriculture. Because of the cold temperatures in Korea, they learnt that it was important to save food for the winter and they did this by preserving food with salt. Korea became famous for their food preservation skills and during the period of the Three Kingdoms (57 BCE – 668 CE), other kingdoms were noticing how well Korea was preserving their food. The first writing about kimchi appears in the Koryeo Period (918 – 1392). The original kimchi was made from radishes since this was the local product at the time.
At the time, because of all the trading, new vegetables found their way to Korea, including Chinese cabbage. The kimchi recipe changed a lot of this period as the Koreans were also being introduced to spices and garlic at the time. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910), the Japanese had a big influence on the kimchi recipe as they started to add soy sauce, which was another great way of preserving food. The Japanese also introduced Korea to chili peppers and this changed the kimchi dish even more. In the past 200 years, around 200 varieties of kimchi have been created.
Health benefits of Kimchi
In general, Korean food is said to be one of the healthiest cuisines in the world and kimchi is no exception. Due to its primary ingredient, napa cabbage, the dish is a good source of vitamins K, C, and B6. The fermentation of the vegetables also provides excellent probiotic qualities. It is believed that kimchi can help with conditions such as digestive issues, inflammation, and general gut health. The dish is also high in fibre, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Where to find Kimchi in Singapore
The majority of Korean restaurants in Singapore serve kimchi – for Koreans, it is the equivalent of a side of fries with a burger! Danny Oppa’s Korean & Japanese Cuisine (Oxley Bizhub) does a delicious kimchi fried rice and you can order a side of kimchi at SBCD Korean Tofu House (Tanjong Pagar Centre). Find more of the Korean cuisine on foodpanda!