Chatelaine Kitchen

Kimchee: The hot (and spicy) condiment we're seeing everywhere

Often described as Korean sauerkraut, kimchee is really much more — it's hot, sour, sweet, salty and spicy all at once. Just one bite will have your mouth singing with flavours of garlic, ginger, onions and chilies.

Homemade napa cabbage kimchee recipe Photo by Erik Putz

Homemade napa cabbage kimchee recipe
Photo by Erik Putz 

Jars of kimchee disappear as fast as peanut butter in my house. Though it’s often described as Korean sauerkraut, kimchee is really much more — because it’s hot, sour, sweet, salty and spicy all at once. Take one bite and your mouth sings with flavours of garlic, ginger, onions and chilies.

What is Kimchee?
Kimchee is the result of pickling cabbage, radishes or cucumbers in salt and seasonings and then allowing them to ferment. In South Korea, there are more than a hundred kinds of kimchee — and more than 400 tons is consumed every year — more than any other vegetable! They even have a museum, foundation and research institute dedicated to kimchee.

Making kimchee has evolved from using only salt for preservation, to include the addition of chili and shrimp paste. Years ago, it would take days to ferment underground in earthenware jars. Fast forward to the present day, where there’s less time to make kimchee in the traditional way, and it’s mass-produced, ready to eat right from a refrigerated container, year-round.

As a result, a bacon and kimchi omelet regularly appears at my weekend brunches and my sons love making chicken and kimchi rolls for lunch or dinner. It’s also taken on a global face in burgers, pasta, and pizzas — as well as Chatelaine’s kimchee poutine and quesadillas.

Click here to get our recipe for Napa kimchee, made — and fermented — indoors. (We’ll save the yard work for spring.)

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