Originating in ancient China before spreading across Asia, with some variants coming from Japan and Vietnam, kimchi is a spicy vegetable dish made of salted and fermented vegetables, usually cabbage and radishes. Known to be high in probiotics, kimchi is also a staple in Korean cuisine – and is the perfect side dish to go with your favorite Korean BBQ. Capable of transforming even the most mundane dish into something flavorful and exciting, these pickled vegetables make any meal a delight to the senses. But what if you have never had kimchi before? You want to experience the zesty, crunchy flavor this dish is known for, but you’re not sure how to go about it. So, what does kimchi taste like?
There are many different types of Kimchi, with the most popular having a primarily spicy flavor with a slightly sour taste due to the fermentation process. The texture is softer on the outside and crunchy on the inside.
The answer is complicated, but it’s worth the journey. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the many unspoken secrets behind this fermented dish and what makes it so delicious. So, let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
Where Does Kimchi Come From
As one of the most traditional Korean dishes, kimchi has its roots in the history of the country. Dating back to the Silla dynasty, which lasted from 57 BC until AD 935, kimchi first originated in China. But Koreans took this dish and made it their own – and it has been a part of their culture ever since. In fact, Koreans have been preserving cabbage and other vegetables in salt and spices for as long as recorded history can tell. Most historians trace the history of kimchi back to the 13th-century, to a Korean poem written by Yi Gyubo. This poem described radish kimchi as a common food at the time.
And even though people were fermenting cabbage in salty water during the Silla period, it wasn’t until the 17th century, when kimchi started to evolve and officially became a spicy dish. Throughout the centuries, kimchi became a Korean national dish. A necessary component of any meal, kimchi was served as the side dish to grilled meat and rice. But as Korea came into contact with other cultures and embraced new culinary traditions, kimchi transformed yet again, this time to become a more varied and colorful dish, while still retaining its spicy flavor.
Health Benefits of Kimchi
Kimchi is an age-old Korean dish that has been used for centuries to provide an endless array of flavorful and health-benefiting properties. Not only is it a perfect pick-me-up for those of us who have a sensitive stomach, but it’s also a powerful source of many vitamins and minerals. Its rich, spicy flavor comes from the addition of chili pepper, red pepper, garlic, ginger, and fermented vegetables like cabbage, cucumber, daikon radish, radish, scallion, etc. And these ingredients have a lot to offer – from boosting the immune system to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. If you are still wondering if kimchi is worth the hype, here are 10 amazing health benefits of kimchi to be certain you make it a part of your diet.
We all have had the pleasure of probiotics, but many of us don’t know what they do. Probiotics are simply live bacteria that produce lactic acid and help with the digestion process. One tablespoon of kimchi contains 400-500 billion probiotics. The bacteria found in kimchi help balance the level of good and bad bacteria in your digestive system, promote colon health, protect against bad breath, prevent many gut-related problems, relieve gas, and promote bowel movements. All these combined with a healthy diet lead to a healthy gut that for sure aids in your overall health.
Kimchi has been eaten for centuries to boost immunity and get over common illnesses. Studies have shown that kimchi has the ability to stimulate your immune system, which is why it can be used as a natural remedy for treating allergies, respiratory infections, skin infections, and digestive problems. So what are you waiting for? Make yourself some kimchi and enjoy it as a 100% chemical-free, organic and proven cold treatment!
Helps Lower Your Cholesterol:
You probably know that cruciferous vegetables like bok choy and broccoli are good for your heart. But if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol levels, then you might want to keep kimchi in mind, too. There’s a growing body of research that suggests that regularly consuming this Korean-style fermented cabbage can significantly lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within a normal range.
Supports Your Liver:
Kimchi is a nutritional powerhouse and an excellent source of liver-protective antioxidants. Research indicates that it’s rich in vitamins B6, B2, C, and E and other nutrients that can nourish the liver and help it function at peak levels. Kimchi also contains a wide range of beneficial vitamins and minerals that can enhance the body’s natural detoxification process. It contains calcium, which is needed for bone formation, as well as potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, and manganese – all of which can improve liver function.
Can Help with Inflammation:
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to tissue damage, infection, or irritation of any kind. It helps protect us by drawing blood vessels to the affected area, creating heat, and increasing blood flow so that our immune system can deal with what’s happening. However, inflammation is also painful and can lead to several different issues. Kimchi has been used for centuries to reduce gut inflammation and support liver function. How does it do this? Kimchi is rich in good bacteria, which can help with reducing the level of “bad” bacteria in the digestive system and promote a healthy digestive tract. Plus, it’s high in glutamine, which can help heal inflamed tissue and reduce inflammation as well.
Helps Prevent Yeast Infections:
Numerous factors cause yeast infections and they are often difficult to treat. Yeast infections are a very common occurrence, affecting an estimated 70 percent of women at some point in their lives. Many people don’t know that yeast infections, also known as candidiasis, can be caused by taking antibiotics or birth control pills. They can also be caused by stress, pregnancy, or diabetes. Yeast infections affect the vagina, the throat, skin folds (like under the breasts), and the mouth and are often characterized by itching and pain when urinating, or vaginal discharge in the case of candidiasis. But have no fear! This spicy Korean delight contains lactic acid bacteria, which will balance your vaginal flora and help reduce your risk of getting a yeast infection. So next time you feel something off down there – grab some kimchi!
Supports Eye Health:
The high level of lutein in kimchi can help protect your eyes against age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. It’s also a very good source of Vitamin A, which aids in the prevention of macular degeneration – a condition that can lead to blindness. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that can help to remove free radicals from the body, which can lead to the slowing of the growth of cancer cells and other diseases.
Can Help Lower Your Blood Sugar:
Kimchi is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. All of these things are important for maintaining a healthy blood sugar level. This is because they help regulate the digestion process and release sugar into the bloodstream at a more constant rate. This in turn keeps your blood sugar level stable and helps prevent insulin resistance. Eating kimchi with your meal also helps you feel fuller longer, which makes you less likely to reach for unhealthy snacks later on.
May Aid Weight Loss:
Kimchi contains a good amount of probiotics, which help digest food better and promote regular bowel movements. This is one of the main reasons why it’s used for weight loss. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, it is used as a great way to shed pounds as well as regulate digestion and bowel movements. Moreover, the red pepper and spicy flavor of kimchi can help burn fat and kick-start your metabolism, making you burn more calories. So next time you plan on having a big meal, be sure to have some kimchi as well, it may just help you lose weight and feel more full.
May Support Heart Health:
Your gut plays a major role in your overall heart health. Inflammation can lead to cardiovascular problems, and kimchi contains healthy bacteria that can help reduce inflammation. Also, kimchi contains isoflavones, which can promote the production of good cholesterol and improve blood flow, keeping your heart healthy and strong. Further being fermented kimchi which is rich in lactic acid helps balance blood sugar levels, which keeps cholesterol levels under control – all of which help prevent plaque formation and protect against cardiovascular issues.
How to Eat Kimchi
Koreans consume kimchi in many different ways, but the most popular way is in a dish called Kimchi Jjigae. Made of kimchi, broth, and tofu, it is a popular dish among Koreans that is sometimes served as an appetizer, sometimes as a side dish, and sometimes as a main course. Kimchi is also eaten with grilled meat or used as a side dish to sandwiches or burgers. Often used as a garnish, it can be added to almost any meal to create a unique taste that only kimchi can deliver. Even if you’ve never had it before, you can try it today!
Koreans often eat kimchi every day, and the majority of Koreans enjoy eating kimchi at least once a day. In addition to being used as a side dish, kimchi can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Kimchi is even often eaten alone or served on its own as a snack. But although it can be eaten at any time of the day, it is usually served in a small amount, because it is quite spicy. To get a real taste of what does kimchi taste like, make sure to eat kimchi slowly, taking your time to fully experience its amazing flavor and unique aroma.
Is Kimchi the Same as Sauerkraut?
Though the ingredients may be similar, sauerkraut and kimchi are two different fermented products. While sauerkraut originated in China, kimchi has its roots in ancient Korea and remains an integral part of Korean cuisine. A traditional Korean dish made of fermented vegetables, cabbage, radish, and hot peppers, kimchi is known for its unique and spicy flavor. Sauerkraut, on the other hand, consists of similar ingredients (cabbage, coriander, and caraway seeds) but takes on a different flavor profile thanks to extended Lacto-fermentation.
What Is the Best Store-Bought Kimchi
The market is flooded with different kinds of kimchi so it’s hard to find the best store-bought kimchi. There are many different types, flavors, and qualities of kimchi. It is essential to look for brands that are organic and high-quality kimchi that can provide the same benefits as homemade kimchi.
Here is our list of the Best store-bought kimchi:
This is a vegan, non-fermented Kimchi. Made of a blend of cabbage, red pepper, radish, onions, ginger, and garlic. Bringing you unique Korean flavors without a strong spicy taste this kimchi offers you a great alternative to every other offering on the market.
Lucky Food’s kimchi is a healthy mix of Napa Cabbage and red pepper. It contains no animal products or MSG, making it an all-natural recipe perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and those with food allergies.
Korean Kimchi is made from cabbage, a bit of radish, and various spices. It is a great source of fiber and is chock full of probiotics. This variety is milder than other types but that does not mean it doesn’t have a great flavor. It is the perfect addition to any meal.
Another amazing product from Mother In Law’s is their Kimchi. This kimchi is made with cabbage, carrot, cucumber, ginger, onion, garlic, and chili. This product is an all-natural food, so it is vegan and vegetarian friendly. It does not contain any artificial colors or flavors and has that great traditional Kimchi taste.
How to Make Kimchi At Home
Most things taste much better when you make them yourself and Kimchi is no exception. Have a look at this great video on how to make Kimchi at home.
In summary, kimchi is a spicy, delicious food with a long history. And it has lots of secrets to go along with it. These pickled vegetables are a great way to add some extra nutrition and flavor to your favorite dishes. While simultaneously improving the general health of your body.