The Book of Kimchi


After months of searching, I finally found this book on eBay. Although it's short on recipes (only 20 for kimchi, with a few more on how to use it in cooked dishes), it's still a useful book.

Published by the Korean Overseas Culture and Information Service in Seoul, the book explains why kimchi isn't merely food but an inherent part of Korean culture. It started off as a way to preserve vegetables and other food so they could be eaten when the ingredients were no longer in season and to sustain the people during the long, harsh winters. While the origins of kimchi can be traced back to as early as the fourth century (back then, food was preserved using just salt), it wasn't until 1600 that chilli was used in the dish.

This comprehensive book describes how kim-chi differs region to region and lists the types used for special occasions, such as the version eaten at memorial services, those meant for pregnant women and the type used to honour the elderly.

The chapter on the health aspects of kimchi is interesting, with ingredients such as salt (essential for preservation), salted seafood, chillies and other seasonings all playing a role in increasing the nutritional value of the fermented food.

The recipes range from the standard, such as cabbage kimchi and radish cube kimchi, to the unusual, such as those made with baby ginseng and wild lettuce.