Kimchi is one of the most known Korean dishes which comes in all kinds of variety. Let’s look at where Kimchi originated from and all about Kimchi Festival!
Kimchi is Korea’s soul food! Korean’s can’t live without Kimchi, just like how we can’t have our food without salt.
Kimchi fits well with anything and is often called banchan which means small side dish.
Korean’s love kimchi so much that it is incorporated in many of their cuisines. As now Kimchi is recognized across the globe, different kinds of snacks and food are made using its essence.
Because of its popularity, Kimchi is now easily available at supermarkets and convenience stores.
Did you know Kimchi is voted the world's healthiest food? Korean kimchi is made with high concentration dietary fiber despite the fact it is low in calories.
Since it goes through a fermentation process, the dish contains probiotics that are beneficial for your health.
What is Kimchi?
Kimchi is fermented vegetables consisting Napa cabbage and Korean radish mixed with Gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and added seasonings like garlic, ginger, spring onions, and jeotgal (salted seafood).
It is a traditional side dish that pairs well with rice and noodles. Instead of having it as a side dish, Kimchi can also be cooked and is often used in stews and soups for extra seasoning.
There is a variety of Kimchi’s, the taste varies depending on the seasons or regions.
A total of 180 known variations of Kimchi with new varieties continuously being created. In the northern part of Korea, Kimchi is made with a watery consistency and does not contain seafood seasonings.
Traditional Kimchi made during the winter season is called kimjang, it was made and kept in an onggi (traditional brown ceramic pot) and buried in the ground to prevent the Kimchi from freezing.
Nowadays, Kimchi refrigerators are used to store and slow down their fermentation process.
Kimchi became prevalent during the Silla Dynasty (57 BC-AD 935). Buddism had caught on through the nation and introduced a vegetarian lifestyle.
Because food, especially vegetables would spoil fast, the pickling was used to keep them enjoyable for a long period of time.
The first version of Kimchi wasn’t spicy at all. Chili had not yet been brought to Korea, therefore it took until the early 19th century for the spice to be included in the recipes for Kimchi as we know it today.
Just to name a few, there are a lot of different Kimchi-style dishes in the Korean kitchen.
There is bossam-kimchi, which is wrapped, baek-kimchi, a white version without chili added, Pa-kimchi, which is spicy green onion kimchi, and Gat-kimchi, made with indian mustard.
But these are only the types of kimchi themselves. Let’s take a look at the most common recipes featuring kimchi!
Number One, Kimchi-jjigae. Also known as kimchi stew this savory dish is warming and filling at the same time.
Traditionally it is made with pork or seafood, scallions, onions, and diced Dubu, which is tofu. Kimchi-jjigae is one of the most common stews in Korean cuisine.
The stew often contains the riper, more fermented Kimchi which has a rich taste and serves perfectly in this dish.
It is eaten communally from the center of the table and rice and banchan, a collectible name for small side dishes such as Namul, stir-fried vegetables, or Jeon, Korean pancakes.
nicely incorporated Kimchi-bokkeum-bap is topped off with an egg and garnished with shredded gim, which is seaweed or chopped scallions. The dish is served hot, right out of the pan.
What is Kimchi Festival?
Since Kimchi is considered Korea’s national food, a festival is hosted to celebrate! The Kimchi-making process is called kimjang and is listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
It first started in the ’90s, where the Korean Government decided to come up with the initiative to educate foreigners about the history of Kimchi and how to make them. It is also to commemorate and preserve the kimjang legacy.
During Kimchi Festivals, there is a wide range of activities to enjoy. The most anticipating event everyone looks forward to would be the Kimchi making.
Moreover, we learn more about how important Kimchi is to the Korean community during this event.
List of Kimchi Festivals
Seoul Kimchi Festival
It first started in 2014, where the Korean Government came up with the initiative to educate foreigners about the history of Kimchi and how to make them.
In 2019, the festival was hosted in November at two places in Seoul, one at Seoul Plaza and the other at Mugyo-ro.
The main event is Kimjang sharing in which they delivered the kimchi made to 20,000 underprivileged families.
There are various Kimchi-making activities during the festival, one being only catered to foreigners.
It hosts up to 720 participants throughout 9 sessions and has a fee of 5,000 KRW. This would be a great opportunity to learn how kimchi is made!
Korea Kimchi Festival
Since the pandemic, it was impossible to hosts a festival. Yet, in 2020 the Kimchi Festival was celebrated worldwide!
The event was held in November for three consecutive days in six co-hosting countries.
In Hanoi, Vietnam, students from six culinary faculty universities participated in a cooking contest with Kimchi as the main ingredient.
Australia held their first festival in Sydney where MasterChef celebrities hosted the event and participated in a kimchi-making competition.
The event had an opening concert and a K-pop video screening event! The festival was filled with many fun activities and live demonstrations.
However, in London, their second Kimjang festival was held online. Innovative chefs and restaurants drew attention as they experiment with Korean essences in their dishes.
The opening event began on the 22nd of November and lasted till December. For the first three days of the festival, they emphasize Making Kimchi at Homestay safe from the current situation.
To conclude the festival, the Kimjang Official Recipe Book & Video was launched!
The remaining participating countries are United States, France, Russia, and England.
Gwangju Kimchi Festival
The festival is held annually in a town with the name Kimchi which is located in the province of Gwangju!
It all started back in 1994, where kimchi making was the highlighted event during the festival.
At the festival, you’ll be able to taste and see a variety of Kimchi. People call it a theme park of food as there will be everything Kimchi!
Besides the traditional cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi is also one of the variations to choose from.
As you know different provinces have diverse flavors of Kimchi and they may have names of their own.
During the event, a wide variety of Kimchi will be featured from all regions of South Korea.
The event allows you to explore Korean traditions through a variety of activities. You will be able to learn the techniques used and the secrets of the region's blend of ingredients in their Kimchi’s.
Foreigners and Kimchi Festival?
If you’re wondering is the event open to foreigners? Yes, it is! One of the aims of the festival is to share Korean culture with international visitors.
During the previous events, Kimchi making competitions had foreigners only category to encourage tourists and non-local visitors to participate in the event.
There is even a Kimchi-sharing category that caters to foreigners!
The festival is also open to visitors of all ages, so if you have kids there are categories made for them as well! Whether you’re single or have a family this is an event you shouldn’t miss!
However, due to the pandemic situation, the festival isn’t hosted this year. We hope in years to come when the situation gets better we will get to taste the different varieties of kimchi!
In a way, the festival keeps the tradition alive and brings people together. It allows the locals and foreigners to come together during this period to learn more about the Korean culture and to connect traditions.
We hope you are as excited as we are after reading the article and it has piqued your interest in visiting the festivals one day!
Which part of the festival is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Why try some kimchi in our Seoulbox?!
Author - Estella and Kris!