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Kimchi is a fermented health food with unique flavor, which has been recognized as an excellent side dish in respect of nutrition and physiology thanks to its main ingredient (vegetable) and fermentation.

Nutritious components of kimchi

Nutrient (unit) Contents in 100(g) kimchi
Calorie (cal.) 32
Water (g) 88.4
Raw Protein (g) 2.0
Raw Fat (g) 0.6
Sugar (g) 1.3
Raw Fiber (g) 1.2
Raw Ash Content (g) 0.5
Calcium (mg) 45
Phosphorus (mg) 28
Vitamin A (IU) 492
Vitamin B1 (mg) 0.03
Vitamin B2 (mg) 0.06
Niacin (mg) 2.1
Vitamin C (mg) 21

*Source: Korea Food Research Institute

Nutritious components of kimchi

Kimchi is a food in which various vegetables such as salted cabbage, radish and cucumber are mixed with pickled fish, condiments and spices. By taking kimchi, we can absorb diverse inorganic elements such as calcium, copper, phosphorus, iron and salt as well as rich dietary fibers that are hidden in the vegetable. We can also obtain amino acid and calcium from pickled fish. In addition, we can absorb vitamins such as carotene, vitamin B complex and vitamin C which are either contained in the vegetables or created by microbes during fermentation. Kimchi is a low calorie food retaining very little sugar and fat, so it will be particularly helpful to the people of today who are eager to keep fit.

Lactic acid fermenting food

Kimchi is a natural and fermented food, producing lactic acid in the fermentation process. It is rich in live lactic acid bacteria. From matured kimchi we can absorb 10~100 times more lactic acid bacteria than from milk fermentation products. Various organic acids which have been generated from these lactic acid bacteria facilitate metabolism of inorganic contents such as calcium and iron inside human body.

Physiologic function

Kimchi possesses many physiologic functions beneficial to human body, thanks to its ingredient (vegetable) and fermentation. Elements contained in kimchi such as dietary fiber, vitamin C and carotene as well as special substances in hot pepper and garlic prevent growing of carcinogen and mutagen, while suppressing mutagenicity. In particular, dietary fibers which are abundant in vegetable not only prevent constipation but also help improve intestinal microflora. Also, lactic acid bacteria restrain growing of harmful microbes within the intestines, thereby contributing to improved intestinal microflora. Some cellular elements of the lactic acid bacteria are presumed to have anti-cancer and immunity buildup effect. Kimchi’s unique flavor comes from its nutritious components as well as from capsaicin that is hot taste element contained in red pepper, which does the function of stimulating appetite.

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Kimchi is a fermented food that mixes pickled Korean cabbage or radish with spicy vegetables and various condiments such as salted fish and red pepper powder.

The term ‘kimchi’ was derived from ‘chimchae’ which means soaking vegetables in salty water and storing them. To be prepared for the coldest season of

Korea – 3 or 4 months in winter – when food was scarce, vegetables were pickled and stored beforehand, which was later developed into kimchi. Kimchi is not a simple fermented vegetable but a complex and indigenous food of Korea involving diverse condiments and spices.


In view that Koreans had enjoyed eating vegetables from the ancient times, and that salt had been made and used then, together with the old records on appearance of fermented foods like salted fish and soy in Korea, it is presumed that kimchi had existed before the three-kingdom era. Red pepper was introduced into Korea via Japan around 1592-1598 when the Japanese army invaded Korea. The first detailed description on kimchi is found in the book ‘Gyeongdo Japji’ (written in the late 1700s) which records that radish, cabbage, garlic, hot pepper powder, turban shell, ear shell, yellow corvina, etc. were mixed into boiled soup of salted shrimps, and then stored in jars during winter season for being fermented and transformed into a hot food. The book also records that Korean people in 1700s enjoyed the fermented food. Another record is found in ‘Jeungbo Sanrim Gyeongje’ (mountains and forest economy) written in 1766, which describes the use of kimchi as daily side dish. The type of kimchi we see today seems to have appeared after the 17th century when the ‘cabbage with head’ was introduced from China. Around this time, condiments and spices were also in full use in Korea, which enabled kimchi to develop into the current version.

Copyright @ 2007 by Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation.

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