Is there any side dish or banchan (반찬) known better than Kimchi when you talk about Korean food ?
The answer is definitely no, Kimchi is the best known fermented Korean food. Almost every dish comes with Kimchi, in many different ways.
People associate Kimchi with a red color which comes from the red powder named Kochugaru. But did you know that in the beginnings of Kimchi, during Koryo dynasty, cabbage was fermented in salted water or soybean paste ?
Adding red pepper was a new process that started after red pepper came to Korea after the invasions of the Japanese at the end of 16th century. The introduction of red pepper drastically changed the appearance and fermentation of Kimchi and contributed to the present day Kimchi.
It says that there are more then 200 different varities of Kimchi these days. However the common used Baechu Kimchi is still my favorite. Over the years I became addicted to Kimchi, and it`s difficult to stay one day without eating Kimchi since Kimchi makes every meal taste better. Koreans even developed their own Kimchi Nengjanggo (refrigerator) to store and preserve Kimchi all year round.
Kimchi is not only delicious but also very healthy. It is scientifically proven that Kimchi is very healthy since it is low in calories, but rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. According to an article in American`s magazine Health, Kimchi belongs to the top 5 of the healthiest food.
It took me some time to find out how to make Kimchi that comes close to the real Korean kimchi taste. However the fermentation and preserving process was the most difficult. The purchase of our own Kimchi Nengjanggo helped a lot.