K: Korea’s representative food
I: Improves immunity and prevents cancers
M: Michelle Obama―the American first lady―posted a kimchi recipe on Twitter
C: Contains over 1 billion lactobacilli
H: Health magazine selected kimchi as one of the top five healthy foods
I: Important dish on a Korean dining table
Pickles and olives frequently appear on dining tables in western countries. Similarly, kimchi is an undying staple that is always served on.
the Korean dining table.
Kimchi is sour and spicy, yet crispy and refreshing. It has a unique taste making it different from dishes in other food cultures. Most Koreans are so deeply in love with kimchi that they can easily eat a whole bowl of cooked rice with only kimchi as a side dish.
As a fermented food, kimchi is a recognized healthy food. Indeed, each gram of kimchi contains over a billion lactic acid bacteria. It is therefore believed to strengthen immunity, diminish cancer, activate the work of the intestines, and prevent aging.
Given these strengths, it is no surprise that interest in kimchi has been increasing among foreigners. In 2001, it was registered as a CODEX (Codex Alimentarius Commission) global standard and in 2006 selected as one of the world’s healthiest foods by American monthly magazine Health. In 2013, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) added the kimjang custom (Kimjang, Making and Sharing Kimchi in the Republic of Korea) to the Humanity List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This year, USA Today featured consumption of kimchi as one of the four trends that caught attention in the American food industry, and Huffington Post Canada introduced kimchi as an up-and-coming leader of the world’s healthy food.
Actively Exported Abroad
Boosted by the great interest and attention, kimchi is now exported to around 80 countries. Japan is the biggest importer of Korean kimchi and the US ranks second. They are followed by Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, and the UK. Recently, the export volume of kimchi to mainland China has skyrocketed. That is because the revision of import standards by the Chinese government has enabled Korean kimchi to restart its distribution in the country and earn many fans especially among the young Chinese who are interested in Hallyu (the Korean culture wave).
Among over a hundred different types of kimchi, baechu-kimchi (napa cabbage kimchi) is the most common in Korea and best known overseas. Many foreigners also enjoy bite-sized mat-kimchi (sliced baechu-kimchi) and crispy kkakdugi (radish kimchi). Mild baek-kimchi (white kimchi) and refreshing oi-kimchi (cucumber kimchi) are also receiving positive responses overseas.
Which Dishes Using Kimchi Do Hallyu Stars Like?
1. Chu Ja-hyun and Jang Geun-suk: Kimchi-jjigae
Jang Geun-suk’s favorite Korean dish is kimchi-jjigae (kimchi stew). He mentioned his affection for the dish when he appeared in the Bistro SMAP segment on the Japanese Fuji TV variety program SMAP X SMAP.
Hallyu Star Chu Ja-hyun is also a fan of kimchi-jjigae. In one interview, she said that whenever she travels to China for shooting, she takes ingredients for kimchi-jjigae with her and shares the dish with the crew.
Kimchi-jjigae is a savory hot stew made with kimchi and various vegetables.
2. Haha and Choi Si-won: Kimchi-jjim
This dish is made by boiling well-aged kimchi with sliced pork in a seasoned broth. It is a “slow-food” that becomes savory and tender in the process. The taste is similar to kimchi-jjigae but the broth is thicker. Simply thinking of kimchi-jjim would stimulate the appetite of many Koreans.
On Infinite Challenge (a popular Korean variety show), Haha and Choi Si-won (from Super Junior) gulped down a bowl of kimchi-jjim even though they had just had a meal.
3. Taek-yeon: Kimchi-bokkeumbap
It is a fried rice dish that requires just two things: rice (better if it is cooled down) and kimchi. It also takes little time to cook. But best of all, the dish makes a perfect meal by itself.
Taek-yeon usually cooks kimchi-bokkeumbap whenever he wants to show off his cooking skills on a TV show. He made it, for example, on We Got Married and Three Meals a Day.
4. TWICE: Kimchi-jeon
Kimchi-jeon is made with chopped kimchi and several other ingredients mixed with flour batter and pan-fried with oil. It is creamy and sour at the same time.
A perfect food by itself, kimchi-jeon tastes amazing when accompanied by makgeolli (unrefined rice wine) on a rainy day. Recently, TWICE appeared on a Korean radio program and, when they were asked what food they would want to have on a rainy day, they answered: “Kimchi-jeon.” Do you know why Koreans associate kimchi-jeon with rainy weather? Well, even Koreans cannot explain it, so no one knows for sure.
Park Sung Eun firstname.lastname@example.org
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