Ive been doing a lot of cooking at home lately, but with just two of us in our household, I find myself left with a lot of odds and ends of various leftover produce. To use up all my extra veggies, I came up with this version of kimchi, a spicy Korean pickled vegetable concoction, generally used as a side dish.
In Korea, kimchi is made differently for each season. In the spring, herbs are added and it is consumed while fresh rather then fermented. Summertime brings the addition of seasonal vegetables such as cucumber and radish. In fall, extra salt is added to preserve the kimchi longer, and in wintertime, pine nuts, pears and chestnuts are added. Traditionally, kimchi is stored in large earthenware pots and allowed to ferment for long periods of time. In modern times, kimchi refrigerators are used that allows for adjustments in temperature, depending on the stage of fermentation.
Due to the large variety of vegetables used in making kimchi, it is highly nutritious and loaded with dietary fiber while also being low in calories. It contains a number of lactic acid bacteria that aids in digestion, and it has been reported that kimchi can even help reduce cancer growth.
There are thousands of variations of kimchi recipes, some quick and simple, some complex and fermented for days or weeks. Mine leans toward the simple side and it can be eaten in a day or so, although it gets better the longer it marinates. Kimchi can be eaten as a side dish, used in stir fry or egg rolls, or as a sandwich topping.