> Korean Food top10 > Kimchi > Definition
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