Fight Off Colds & Flu With Kimchi

 

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Kimchi is the traditional Korean dish of salted and fermented vegetables, a staple in the cuisine of the Korean peninsula since antiquity. This delicious and deceptively simple side dish has crossed over, and is gaining in popularity year after year. And for good reason, especially this season. Kimchi is regularly included in flu & cold fighting listicles. Never underestimate the power of prebiotics, chiles, and cabbage!

There are over a hundred and eighty officially recognized versions of kimchi, the national dish of Korea, each with its own distinct ingredients and subtle variations. The term kimchi simply means fermented vegetables in Korean, so that leaves a lot of wiggle room. Most versions utilize nappa cabbage and daikon or Korean radish, and variations usually involve the addition of cucumbers, spicy green onions, carrots, garlic and a variety of chilies, chili pastes and seasonings.

 

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Different regions in Korea gave rise to different ingredients and characteristics; Northern Korea, for example, typically produces a kimchi that is a little more watery than its southern counterpart, and often uses less salt and chili, and coastal areas closer to the sea will likely have shrimp and or anchovy added as well. And salt, of course, lots of salt in all versions, which keeps the vegetables from spoiling while they ferment. It is the fermentation process that gives rise to the variety of micro flora and microorganisms and lactic acid bacteria that give kimchi its famous variety of flavours and adds to its impressive health benefits. 

Delivering a jolt of immune-boosting and circulation-increasing garlic, onions, and ginger, kimchi is a raw, fermented food full of beneficial enzymes and probiotics, which make for a happy and healthy digestive tract. – Grist

 

Onggi jars

Onggi jars

 

Regional kimchi recipes also adapt to fit the seasons, as different vegetables come into season at different times of the year. Traditionally kimchi was stored in the ground in large earthenware jars called onggi pots: in the winter months this kept the kimchi from freezing, and in the summer it keeps it nice and cool and slows down the fermenting process. This method is still used in many cases, though most producers now use kimchi refrigerators.

 

Bibimbap with kimchi

Bibimbap with kimchi

 

If you want to find the best variety of kimchi in the city look no further than Toronto’s own Koreatown, just a few blocks south of Fiesta Farms, on Bloor between Christie and Bathurst. And while we’re on the subject, why not have a go at making your own? Making kimchi at home is not a daunting task at all, and you don’t need an onggi pot or need to bury it. Your fridge will work fine. Here is an easy recipe to get you started on the basics, and in all likelihood, after trying it out you will likely begin to get more and more adventurous in your tinkering, perhaps opting for longer fermentation, and different levels of heat and texture and flavour profiles. But one thing is likely; expect kimchi to start replacing that chow-chow or side of pickles that usually graces your table. This stuff is habit forming!

 

Koreatown Tiger

Koreatown Tiger

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