Kimchi is a traditional spicy fermented cabbage dish served as a side dish or as part of a main dish that can be found on almost any table across Korea. It is estimated that Koreans eat upwards of 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of the dish, per person, per year. Not surprisingly, kimchi is the national dish of Korea.
Traditional kimchi dates back to the 7th century. Pickling has been used for hundreds of years in Korea as a way of preserving vegetables that could not be cultivated during the harsh and cold winters.
To make kimchi, red pepper powder along with ginger, garlic, radishes, and scallions is added to cabbage. Everything is then placed in earthenware pots that ferment underground for months at a time.
There are hundreds of different varieties that vary greatly by region and time of the year. It can also be found as the main ingredient in soups, stews, and rice dishes.
Since kimchi is made with vegetables it is high in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, iron and carotene while being low in fat and calories. Studies have proven that eating large amounts of kimchi can reduce the risk of certain cancers. It is also believe that the dish can prevent the spread of certain viruses such as SARS, H5N1, and bird flu.
Those interested in the history, preparation, and pretty much anything related to kimchi can visit the Museum Kimchikan.