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Ferment Kimchi.jpgSouth-Korea has a very broad and interesting kitchen which is known worldwide. Some argue that the diversity of the kitchen and the focus on vegetables makes it one of the healthiest kitchens in the world. The South-Korean kitchen as we know it today has evolved through centuries of change within the country. One of the most standing out aspects of the South-Korean kitchen is the huge amount of side dishes which are served during a meal. To give some understanding of how South-Korea developed such a rich food culture we will look at the history of one of the most famous side-dishes in South-Korea’s: Kimchi.

Kimchi is a spicy fermented vegetable that is served with almost every traditional meal in South-Korea. The most famous kind of Kimchi is made from Chinese cabbage but there are a lot of other vegetables which are used to make kimchi as well. This side dish is perfect to give an understanding of how South-Korean foods developed over the centuries since the existence of kimchi is traceable all the way back to the first people that started using agriculture to sustain their selves.

For a long time, Korea has been a very isolated country and they did not have much ties with Chinese and other surrounding countries except for Japan. Still it was during the Joseon Dynasty that chili peppers and sweet potato where introduced in Korea. The Japanese where very involved in the world at that time, compared to their neighbours, and it is widely believed they are responsible for introducing chilli peppers and sweet potatoes to Korea. Others argue that the chilli pepper and sweet potato find their way to Korea through trade with the Chinese.

The introduction of the chilli pepper changed the recipe for kimchi radically once again. The different kind of kimchi’s started growing rapidly and for most of these kimchi’s chilli is used to make it spicy. The most famous kimchi made from Chinese cabbage got invented roughly 200 years ago. Around this time there where around 100 different kinds of kimchi. In the last 200 years the number of different kinds of kimchi rose to over 200. It can be said that there is a direct link between the trade with other countries, and therefore an increase in ingredients, and the number of different kinds of kimchi.


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