Kimchi is no longer a stranger to this country.
A simple google search will lead you to numerous results about this crunchy and tangy pickled vegetable. Despite its relatively recent arrival in the US, kimchi is off to a fast start, surging to popularity and beginning to appear on the shelves of major grocery chains and health stores.
When there’s kimchi involved, I seem to have this endless hole in my stomach that keeps wanting more and MORE. After all, how can you say No to this scrumptious super food that’s not only addictive but also super good for you in the upcoming hot summer days?
Let’s talk about kimchi first
A study of kimchi history reveals that people were enjoying kimchi as early as the 7th century. Because of the extreme cold winters in Korea, agricultural cultivation was nearly impossible in early eras. Food preservation became a priority and the only way for people to enjoy vegetables was to preserve them or “pickle” them. (source)
According to wikipedia, there are 180 variety of kimchi available today. In the States, the five most popular are –
1) Kimchi napa cabbage – baechu kimchi 배추김치
2) Chopped radish cubes – ggakdugi kimchi 깍두기
3) White kimchi – baek kimchi 백김치
4) Green water kimchi – yeolmumul kimchi 열무물김치
5) Cucumber kimchi – oisobagi 오이소박이
Kimchi = Happy food in Korea
So what makes kimchi so exciting? Does it owe its popularity to hipsters? Or perhaps it’s the endless possibilities in which kimchi can be transformed. (Or maybe a bit of both?) From soup stew to cold appetizers, the combination of crunchy, spicy, and tangy will charm your taste buds in an instant.
Similar to sauerkraut, kimchi is also packed with tons of natural probiotics that it’s no wonder Dr. Raphael Kellman, M.D. and the author of The Microbiome Diet: The Scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss, called kimchi “the new generation of Superfood.”
Summary of the Benefits of Kimchi:
- Contains billions of live bacteria, which help improve the health of the digestive system.
- Helps lower cholesterol, prevents constipation, and combats colon cancer.
- Has impact on weight loss and body fat and affects overall improvement of the immune system and skin problems. (source)
- Finally, it can help to reduce stress, relieve depression, combat osteoarthritis, and fight liver disease. (source)
Still not convinced?
Years ago when I first discovered H-mart on 32nd street and Broadway in Koreatown, I often saw girls lugging home 4-5 pound kimchi jars so large they made a noticeable impact on their balance. The spectacle left me wondering how much kimchi a girl that size could really put away in a week. (Maybe they were cooking for large families?) Either way, I needed to find out what the fuss was about.
Out of curiosity, one day I decided to put a mini jar in my basket and little did I know the love affair would begin the moment the jar came home with me.
Since then, I use kimchi in just about everything – from hot dogs, tacos, and hamburger patties, to ramen noodle soup. Whenever food tastes bland or boring, kimchi will come to the rescue.
There are endless possibilities for kimchi preparation.
If you are not a fan of spicy food, I’d recommend that you start with a non spicy version – white kimchi – first.
What’s your secret food to combat this hot summer? Share it below or shoot me an email at IHeartUmami.email@example.com I’d love to hear your recipe.
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Until next time.