The FirePit: Kimchi

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안녕하세요 여러분! Hello everyone, and welcome to this post on Korean food.  This time it’s kimchi (김치), Korea’s ubiquitous spicy, fermented cabbage.

One can call kimchi the cornerstone of Korean cooking- eaten by all Korean’s since they could chew, this pungent, strikingly red side dish is often one of the first Korean foods that foreigners are introduced to.  The most easily recognizable form of kimchi is that of fermented Chinese cabbage (particularly napa cabbage) sprinkled with red chili peppers and other various seasonings such as garlic.   However, other vegetables are used to make kimchi, such as radishes, cucumbers, and scallions (of these I have only had the radish variety).   There is no standard way of making kimchi and each region of Korea is said to have a special way of making the dish.  Kimchi contains several vitamins and minerals (A, C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, iron, carotene) and as such is often purported to have several health benefits, such as lowering one’s cholesterol and weight, aiding the digestion process, and even reducing the risk of and/or preventing cancer (although too much can increase your risk of stomach cancer).  Although usually a side dish, kimchi often is the base of other Korean foods like kimchi jjigae (김치찌개 kimchi stew) and kimchi pancake (김치전).

Personally, I like my kimchi red, hot, and spicy (though some may think it’s already spicy enough).  One should always have a couple of  glasses (preferably several) of water when eating kimchi-this is for your own safety and well-being.  If you choose not to heed this warning, you may find yourself with heartburn, a persistent cough, or in extreme cases a stomach virus (all have happened to me before).

So go out to a Korean restaurant and eat some kimchi!

Credits: “Kimchi” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimchi), “Kimchi to Your Health!” (http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/OO/OO_EN_13_1_2.jsp?cid=347478)

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