Salty, tangy and fiery, kimchi is a staple on the Korean table. This deliciously different condiment has been eaten in Korea since the 13th century. Originally created as a means of preserving harvesttime cabbage for the winter, kimchi is now an anchor dish in Korean cuisine. It’s served at every meal, as a palate-cleansing side salad or incorporated into other dishes.
The classic version is a crunchy, fermented mix of napa cabbage, salt, ground red chile peppers, garlic, ginger, onion and brined shrimp, although anchovy paste or fish sauce is sometimes used in place of the shrimp. As the kimchi ferments, it develops its signature aroma and intense flavor. Other ingredients that are a great addition to kimchi include daikon radishes, baby bok choy, Asian pears, cucumbers, cauliflower, carrots and even oysters.
Kimchi is healthy, easy to make and amazingly versatile. It not only adds a zesty twist to traditional tacos, it also tastes terrific folded into savory pancakes, stuffed inside homemade dumplings, steamed along with fish or stirred into a comforting stew.
In South Korea, there is a kimchi research institute and a kimchi museum, along with an abundance of kimchi festivals. The beloved national dish has even been sent into space with Korean astronauts.
In the U.S., kimchi’s popularity got a boost when trendy Korean food trucks began popping up in cities across the country. St. Louis’ Seoul Taco got its start as a food truck and now has restaurant locations in St. Louis and Columbia, MO, as well as Champaign and Chicago, IL. The Korean-Mexican menu offerings at Seoul Taco include a burrito with kimchi fried rice. Here’s an easy Quick Kimchi recipe to try at home.