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Korea's kimchi passion

What Is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a traditional spicy pickled vegetable dish in Korea. While it’s usually made with cabbage, there are more than a hundred kimchi varieties, using everything from cucumbers and radishes to eggplants and pumpkin blossoms. Most kimchi recipes are based on three essential steps:

First, the vegetable is salted. This extracts the liquid, making the vegetable firm.
Second, spices are added—particularly powdered hot red pepper, crushed garlic, and green onions—giving kimchi its zestful bite.
Finally, the vegetable is fermented in its own salty juices.
Every year around November, a remarkable thing happens in Korea.

From Seoul’s massive five-block Karakdong market square to rural roadside vegetable stands, produce markets across Korea grow more frenetic than at any other point during the year. As farmers arrive with their harvests, shoppers flock to sift through towering mounds of cabbages, radishes, mustard greens, and other vegetables.

The frenzy marks the arrival of kimchi-making season, when Koreans collect ingredients for kimchi, and prepare supplies of this traditional pickled vegetable dish for winter.

Most Koreans eat kimchi every day, so it’s not surprising how significantly it can affect activity in local markets. In fact, families usually serve three or more varieties of kimchi at every meal, breakfast included. So central is kimchi to everyday life that it’s not uncommon to see kimchi coverage in the daily news, including money-saving tips, commodity price reports, and "how to" cooking advice for consumers.


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