This side dish of fermented vegetables continues to be an essential part of any Korean meal. Early kimchi dishes were relatively mild, spiced with fermented anchovies, ginger, garlic, and green onions. Koreans still use these ingredients today, but the spice most closely associated with modern kimchi is red pepper powder. Korea boasts more than two hundred types of kimchi, all rich in vitamins, minerals, and proteins created by the lactic acid fermentation of cabbage, radish, and other vegetables and seafood.
The kimchi served at a meal will vary according to region, season, and may differ according to the other dishes on the menu. A seaside region's kimchi will be saltier than that of a landlocked area, and summer cooks produce cooling water kimchis to contrast with the heartier cabbage kimchis of the autumn and winter. And a delicate cucumber kimchi sits better beside a bland noodle dish than beside a robust beef stew. To understand kimchi at its simplest, think of it is as divided into two kinds: seasonal kimchi (for short-term storage, made from vegetables that are fresh in the markets at any given time) and Kimjang kimchi (for long-term storage, made in quantity in late autumn).
Baechu Kimchi (Whole Cabbage Kimchi)
This is the most common, classic kimchi you will find at a Korean meal. Whole heads of cabbage are trimmed to remove discolored outer leaves and then split longways into two or four sections. These sections are soaked in brine for three or four hours until they have softened (during the summer and winter for about 12 hours.)
While this is going on, the other ingredients are assembled and mixed together. (Ground pepper powder, chopped garlic and ginger, pickled baby shrimp -or other sea food pickled such as anchovies and other fishes as a form of row fish cut in bitable size, sponge seaweed- and oysters can be added depending taste and family recipes.)
When they are mixed and the cabbage is ready. For common baech'u kimchi the softened cabbages are cut in to bitable size and mix with other ingredients. For Tongbaechu kimchi, handfuls of the stuffing are then pushed and spread between the leaves of the cabbage until it is all used. The outer leaves of the cabbage are wrapped round whole to form a solid bundle, which is then stored in a crock covered with salted leaves and pressed down firmly.
Baek Kimchi (White Cabbage Kimchi)
Paek kimchi originaly came from North Korea where less salt and red pepper are used in cooking. (Cabbages are soaked in brine until they have softened and are seasoned using ginger, garlic strips, and red pepper threads instead of red pepper powder. The materials used for stuffing vary according to personal taste. It can combine radishes, mushrooms, Korean pears, chestnuts, and dates with watercress greens and mustard leaves, and even little bit of pepper powder.)
Chonggak Kimchi (Ponytail Kimchi)
This is another kimchi made from small ponytail radishes that lovers of fiery food will enjoy. Garlic, ginger, and pickled baby shrimp mixed with red pepper powder are added to the radishes. Chonggak Kimchi can be ready after being left for only a few days.
Dong Chimi (Winter White Water Kimchi)
The major ingredients of this kimchi are fist-sized Korean pony tail radishes (soaked in brine) and green chili peppers (soaked for about two weeks until they have a very slightly brownish appearance), which are added to water. Mustard leaves and green onions are often soaked with the radishes to soften them. Each of the soaked ingredients is folded into separate small bundles. The final dish is assembled in a storage jar with layers of radishes alternating with layers of greens and layers of chili peppers with thinly sliced garlic and ginger. The final kimchi is covered with brine and stored.
Ggakdugi (Chopped Radish Kimchi)
This kimchi dish is made from cubes of Korean radishes that are parboiled then coated with very fine redpepper powder which gives them deep red color. Garlic, ginger, and pickled baby shrimp can be added for additional seasonings in some recipes.
Nabak Kimchi (Red Water Kimchi)
This is the most highly prized of the water kimchis. It can be enjoyed year around these days, although in the past it was popular in the spring after Koreans had finished eating the winter Kimjang kimchi. It has an elegant appearance created by the cutting of the radish into slender bite sized pieces of just over an inch square and with other colorful ingredients such as cabbage, green onions, watercress, red chili peppers, garlic, and ginger. The word nabak indicates the special cutting technique Korean cooks use to create these squares. The word, by association, also has the connotation of something crunchy and crisp. The completed mixture is garnished with a fine amount of red pepper brine sprinkled over it before storage.
Yeolmumul Kimchi (Summer Green Water Kimchi)
If you have a meal during the steamy Korean summer, you will be grateful for this juicy water kimchi. Young summer radishes are the key ingredients. They are blended with green chili peppers, red chili peppers, and garlic. A kimchi sauce (made of flour or sticky rice mixed with warm water) is poured over the mixture. More water is added and the vegetables are mixed before storing.
Presented a few only, there are hundred more kinds of Kimchi enjoyed daily in Korea.