Chinese Cabbage Radish Chili Garlic
Ginger Scallion Leaf Mustard Leek
Cucumber Dropwort Salt Chinese bellflower
Wild Rocambole Burdock Eggplant Godeulbaegi
Dodock Beansprout Oyster Fish juice
Fish juice and sikhae Shrimp juice Anchovy juice Yellow corvenia juice

Chinese cabbage
Chinese cabbage, Brassica rapa pekinensis, is a member of the Cruciferae family. The vegetable is a biennial and is indigenous to eastern Asia. The best growth and quality are obtained if plantings are arranged so that initial growth occurs when mild temperatures prevail and heading occurs in cooler weather. The plant is usually used as the base ingredient of kimchi, the most important component in Korean dishes. It is also used for making soup, or for ssam, which is wrapping cooked rice with plant leaves or laver sheets. Its root is not used. Cabbage is an excellent provider of vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, and iron.
You have to be careful when selecting Chinese cabbages in order to make tasty kimchi. Medium-sized cabbages are preferrable. Generally speaking, one which is light-white inside and light-green outside tastes best. And take a little piece from the inside and try it to see if it tastes sweet. When two cabbages are in the same size, pick the one heavier. To clean cabbages, remove and discard the sturdy outer leaves and root. Make a slit about four-inch long with a knife at the root-end, and part it with hand into two halves when using smaller ones, or into four quarters for bigger ones. Next, keep them immersed in salt solution (about 12 percent) for about six hours. For best results, shift them once in two or three hours so that they will be salted evenly. Rinse well with water and leave it to drain when it is wilted.


Radish, Raphanus sativus, is a member of the Cruciferae family. The vegetable is a biennial and is indigenous to eastern Asia. There are a few varieties of this plant, but the one usually used for making kimchi is called "daikon", the long white Asian radish. The length varies from four to forty inches. It is used in many foods including kimchi, Ggagdugi (cube-sliced radish kimchi), dried-then-cooked side dishes, and pickles. It has long been used as one of the winter-time vitamin sources. Its other ingredients include water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. The plant also helps digestion with its enzyme called "diastase". Solid radishes are best; porous ones are to be avoided. Select the ones whose leaves are fresh. Solid and bigger ones with much juice are good for cabbage kimchi, smaller ones with much juice are good for Ggakdugi. Even smaller ones are used for Chonggak kimchi. When cleaning radish, remove the leaves and root hairs with a knife and brush out soil with water. The leaves are not to discard. They can be added to kimchi, or they can make a separate kimchi, or they can be dried and stored for making soups.


Red pepper, Capsicum longum, commonly called "chili", is a member of the Solanaceae family. Since its introduction in Korea in the beginning of the seventeenth century, it has been used in almost every kinds of Korean dishes, to say nothing of kimchi. In chili there is twice as much vitamin C as there is in orange -- an important source of vitamins during wintertime. Chili helps the lactic fermentation process which leads to tasty kimchi, and also prevents the fish juice from turning sour. Evenly-shaped and glossy chilies without wrinkles are best. You can choose to used pre-ground chili powder, or you can get whole-chili and powder it in a mill. The latter way is preferrable, for you can select the kind of chilies to use.
Dried chilies can be grouped into two according to the way they are dried. Sun-dried chilies are bigger and hotter. They are also softer. Fire-dried chilies are harder and taste sweeter than sun-dried ones. Of course, sun-dried ones are more expensive than fire-dried. Blending the two kinds usually gets the best results for kimchi.

In the old times Korean people regarded the color red as to symbolize sun or fire, and thought it had the power to chase away evil spirits. For this reasons, chili was used for preventing evil spirits from entering. They used to stick chilies and pieces of charcoal in a string and hang it in the gate to hold evil spirits in check when there is a newborn baby boy (pine twigs for girls). The string is called keumchool, which means "do not enter." The string was also used for soy sauce pots when they had just made it in order to prevent the evil spirits which would make the sauce to taste bad.


Garlic, Allium sativum, belongs to the Liliaceae family and is a perennial. The plant is used as a flavor for almost any food in Korea. Raw garlic when it is chewed or cut has a pungent smell, which removes the bloody smell from meat, improving the taste. Korean meat dishes usually have garlic in them for this reason. Garlic also prevents beriberi and constipation, and works as a strong germicidal effects since its juice contains the antibiotic oil allicin. It has a pain-killer effect, and works as an antidote to poison. For kimchi, solid garlics with purplish sheath are good. All varieties of kimchi have garlics. Thin sliced strips are used for White Kimchi, thin slices for Dongchimi, and crushed for Chinese Cabbage kimchi. Garlic was believed to prevent evil and salt, and has been added to all kinds of food and been excluded from the offerings to the dead for the this same reason.


Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is a member of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. The plant is a perennial, and the part which is commonly known as its root is actually rhizome, the enlarged underground part of its stem. The rhizome is light-yellow and spicy. It is added to food mainly for removing the fishy smell from fish or meat dishes. In the herb remedy the plant is included in the remedy for digestive or respiratory ailments. And concentrated ginger tea is used for cold in the folk remedy. Plump garlics are preferrable for kimchi. Moist ones peel better. And tender gingers are the best; the ones which show much fiber when broken are to be avoided. Gingers are added to all kinds of kimchi. Like garlics, thin sliced strips are used for White Kimchi, thin slices for Dongchimi, and cruched for Chinese Cabbage kimchi. Ginger added to kimchi works as a germicide, preservative, and deodorant.


Scallion, Allium fistulosum, is a perennial which belongs to the Liliaceae family and is added as a seasoning, especially for removing the fishy smell from meat or fish dishes. The leaf contains much vitamins including vitamins A and C, and miinerals like iron. Like garlic, it contains allicin which activates vitamin B1. Dishes which use scallion include Scallion Kimchi. Scallion ganghoe is pork warpped with scalded scallion leaves. Scallion sanjok is beef and scallion cuts with other vegetables stuck together in a stick and roasted together, and is a choice side dish. Soft, lustrous scallions with more white side at the root end are best for kimchi.

Leaf Mustard

Leaf mustard, Brassica juncea, is a variety of mustard and belongs to the Cruciferae family. The pungent leaves are used for kimchi or Na-mul (raw, scalded, or fried and flavored vegetables). Seeds which look like small meads are ground to make spice or herb remedy. Its composition is similar to cabbage, with a little more protein, calcium, carotene (vitamin A), and nicotin acid. Also there are dextrose and sugar. Especially it has much vitamin C, calcium and mineral iron. Red leave are better for kimchies which use chili; green ones are chosen for those without chili. Choose lighter leaves when you don't care for the strong flavor, because darker leaves are more pungent.


Leek, Allium odorum, is a perennial which belongs to the Liliaceae family and is used as the main ingredients of the stuffing for Cucumber Sobagi (stuffed) and for many other dishes. Leek is taken as raw, slightly scalded, fried, or roasted. The plant is also used as medicine because helps strengthen digestive organs. There are largely two varieties in Korea: traditioinal and improved. The traditional one has narrower leaves and is better suitable for kimchi. Shorter leaves taste better. Choose those which are greener, and parched or those with broken leaves are to be avoided. Leek doesn't stand well for handling so you have to be nice and careful when cooking or preparing it. For salting, better use fish juice than salt. Leek Kimchi will be appropriately fermented in a day and a half, which will also work as a good appetizer.


Cucumber, Cucumis sativus, is an annual vine plant which belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family and the fruit is widely used including for Cucumber Sobagi (stuffed cucumber kimchi), various pickles, and for other dishes. Ninety-five percent of cucumber is water. There is not much nutrient in it compared to other vegetables but it has much vitamin including vitamins A, U, B1, and B2. There are a few cucumber varieties in Korea which are popularly used as food. The traditional one is preferred for making kimchi. A few other kinds are served raw or slightly cooked. And there is the "old" cucumber, which is fully ripe and turned yellow. The peeled "old" ones mixed with chili paste make a choice side dish in summer, together with cucumber Sobagi.


Dropwort, Oenanthe stolonifera is a perennial plant which grows in marshes and ditches. It is an alkalic food with abundant vitamins and minerals. It is also used in folk remedy because it is effective for alleviating fever and high blood pressure. It is usually boiled or lightly scalded to serve at dining table. Added to kimchi ingredients when making kimchi, the vegetable will give kimchi its unique flavor and cool feeling. Dropwort ganghoe, a choice side dish, is pork warpped with the scalded leaves. Shorter ones with thick leaflets are better than longer and thinner ones. Succulent dropworts with a tinge of red are good.


Salt consists of sodium chloride and does an important role of giving savory taste to food. The dietry culture of Korea is centered on grains, which lead them to prefer a little salty taste. Salt is easily available in the Korean peninsula and used much for food preserving purposes. Naturally there are many kinds of salt-pickled food in Korea. Salt is used for all kinds of kimchi. It works as a preservative as well as germicide. Largely speaking, there are two kinds of salt used in Korea. The coarse one is for making kimchi, and finer kind is for salting dishes. The grains of quality coarse salt are large and a little dark. Grains of fine salt should be even in size and white. Salt will absorb moisture when it is exposed in the air for a long time, which is not appropriate for making kimchi. And there should be no foreign materials in it.

Chinese bellflower

Chinese bellflower, Platycodon grandiflorum, is a perennial which belongs to the family of bellflower. It grows in the regions from plains of warm regions to 1,000m (3,300ft) above sea level in the sunny-side of mountains. It is cultivated for ornament as well as its root, which tastes a little bitter and has a unique flavor. The edible root looks like that of ginseng, and the leaf is long oval with a pointed tip. Fiber consists most of the root, and there also much carbohydrates, calcium and mineral iron. It feels extraordinary to chew. Two- or three-year old root is very soft. It is harvested from spring until fall. It is usually cooked with no cooking when it is fresh, or heat-cooked in various ways when dried.
It is also used as a herbal medicine because there is saponin in it, which is an important substance of ginseng. Before cooking anything, the root should be steeped out of the bitter taste by soaking in water, and the fiber should be softened. When making a salad, tear into strips and scrub with salt. Seasoning is added when it is wilted. If you want to heat-cook it, roast slightly and rinse in cold water before adding seasoning. The mixture of vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper is the usual seasoning. It can also be skewered with beef slices. Its soy sauce pickle is made by adding a seasoning of sugar and garlic mixture after hard-boiling with beef and sea tangle. It is also made Chinese Bellflower Kimchi, or simple dipping in chili paste before roasting can make a tasty dish. In folk medicine, the root is known to be effective to cold, asthma, body chill, stomachache, furuncle, diarrhea, after-parturition care, women's diseases, insomnia, bronchitis and menstrual pain. The leaf is effective for blisters. When boiled with a cock (rooster), it can cure leukorrhea. For toothache or diarrhea, peel the root and fry with oil and eat. It is also use when a person vomits blood. The many ways of cooking and remedy further stresses the fact that the plant has been very familiar to Korean people. Their emotions toward chinese bellflower is well-expressed in the folk songs of many regions.

Wild Rocambole

Wild rocambole, Allium monanthum, is a perennial and belongs to the lily family. There is a sheath of leaves which grows from the bulb. The plant looks very much like a very young scallion and the smell is also close to it. It has vitamin, calcium and various minerals, especially much vitamin C. It is made a salad without heating, or boiled or steamed to go with vinegar or chili paste. It is added to spysauce paste broth in the spring, or pickled. The plant is effective as a hematic when the boiled liquid is taken. The liquid is also effective for intestinal catarrh and insomnia. When poisoned with a bug bite, crush the plant raw and apply it where it is swollen. The flour dough can ease the bruise. Burn it and apply the ash to a swell will subside it and ease the pain.


Burdock, Arctium edule, is a biennial which belongs to the sunflower family. Its root is used for food. It is alkalic with a unique aroma, and is considered a vegetable in Korea, China and Japan. It can be pickled in soy sauce paste, or made a side dish by hard-boiling in soy sauce and sugar. Burdock Kimchi is made by scalding lightly in boiling vinegar and water. In the herbal medicine the plant is used for soar throat and German measles. It is also very effective for diabetics.


Eggplant, Solanum melongena, is an annual plant that belongs to the family of eggplant. It grows to about 60 to 100cm (2 to 3 feet 4inches) and bear broad, ovate, sometimes spiney leaves. Solitary lavender flower blooms from June to September. Large and fleshy fruit is usually dark purple, but there are white or yellow varieties. Eggplant is mainly used for food as salad, grilled food, or kimchi. Also it is used in herbal medicine because it is effective for fever, aches and inflammation. Substances like trigonellin, stachydrine and choline in the plant can lower the concentration of cholesterol in blood and work as a diuretic. Eggplant is usually prescribed for for skin inflammation, mastitis, boil, skin ulcer and enterohemorrhage. It is also effective as a thirst quencher and insecticide. The fruit is used mainly for food, the rest of the plant is for remedy.


Godeulbaegi, Ixeris sonchifolia is a biennial which belongs to the family of chrysanthemum. It grows to 80cm (2 feet 8 inches) and the stem is dark red. The vegetable is better known as Korean lettuce. Young leaves are collected in April to be scalded before saladed, or fresh leaves are used as the base vegetable for kimchi. The Godeulbaegi Kimchi of the Cholla Province is especially well known. For making kimchi, the leaves are steeped in salted water for a week to remove the bitter taste. Mixed with anchovy juice, the slightly bitter-sour flavor is a good appetitie stimulant.. The plant has protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, calcium, mineral iron and vitamin. It is known to strengthen the stomack and cleanse the blood.


Dodock, Condonopsis lanceolata, is a perennial plant which belongs to the family of bellflower. It is nicknamed a "ginseng from the field," because of its tapered root strengthens lung and heart. The root is much similar to that of Chinese bellflower and ginseng in shape. The vine grows to 2m (6 feet 8 inches) and milky sap is produced when the vine is cut. Young leaf is boiled and saladed, or used as cooked rice wrap like sheets of laver. Root makes Dodock Kimchi, pickle-in-chili-paste, salad, salted dry food, roast, egg-coated skewer and wine. Roasted Dodock is considered a choice dish, which is made with early spring root by steeping and seasoning before roasting. In fork remedy the plant is used for dyspepsia after drinking water. Its powder is known to be effective for bad boil and bug bite.


When beans are arranged and watered in a pot which drains well, roots srpout from the beans. Vitamin C is produced during the growing which does not exist bean, which has made it a valuable supply of vitamin during the winter. Beansprout is widely cooked in Korea to make dishes from ordinary side dishes to regional specialties. When the sprouts grow to about 10cm (4 inches), simple addition of seasoning to steamed spouts can make a fine food. Boil together with rice and flavor with soy sauce seasoning before adding a few drops of sesame seed oil, you have a dish that will make you to forget about all the delicacies. In the traditional herbal medicine, sprouts of beans which are not yet quite long are dried and prescribed for edema and muscle ache, as well as for alleviating gastric fever. It is also effective for preventing low blood pressure and endemic diseases. Beansprout soup is a popular remedy for hangover.


Oysters are mollusk shellfish of the class Bivalvia. Judging from the fact that they are found from the shell mounds of the prehistoric times, oysters must have been used as food since very long time ago. Raw oysters contain water, protein, fat, carbohydrate and minerals. There are vitamins A, B1, B2 and niacin, and glycin and glutamic acid are the source of the unique taste. Oysters are cooked in many ways including rice, soup, gruel, grill and fish juice. It can give a "cool" flavor when added to kimchi. Fat ones with clear color are best for food. Cleaning should be done by washing gently in salt water in order to prevent them from being crushed. Usually oysters are added only to the kinds of kimchi which ferment within a month.

Fish juice

Fish juice is made of fish and shellfish, and is another example of traditional Korean food which is pickled in salt and fermented. It has been widely loved by people in Korea since the old times as a delicacy, part of seasoning, and a material for making kimchi. Fish juice consists of benefitable protein. It is also a good supplier of calcium and fat. There are more than 140 kinds of fish juice in Korea, and about sixty of these are mixed with other materials to make kimchi seasoning. Among the fish juices for kimchi, anchovy juice, shrimp juice and yellow corbenia juice are popular throughout Korea. Regional varieties are made with the materials that are available only in each region. There are also many varieties which are different from home to home, depending upon each home's own recipe. Largely speaking, fish juice can be added to kimchi in two ways: they can be added without boiling; or they can boil the juice and filter out the solid part to add only the liquid part to the kimchi mixture.

Fish juice and sikhae

The term fish juice actually includes the kind where grain is added to the salted fish. This is called sikhae, fish-and-grain juice. Fish juice is made by fermenting fish and salted water (20%) at room temperature. Whereas they add cooked rice to the mixture to make sikhae, where lactic acid is produced in the fermentation. The lactic acid is the agent which prevents the fish from going spoiled. In Korea sikhae is made mainly in the regions which are exposed to the East Sea. There are many kinds of fish that are used as the base, which include the Alaska pollack, flatfish, mackerel, sandfish and anchovy. Sometimes they make sikhae with dried fish where they are far qaway from the sea. Cooked rice, extra-glutonous rice, rice and Italian millet mix, and extra-glutonous and Italian millet mix are the grains. Grains are so cooked as not get too moist, and the amount of moisture is also controlled by drying them. The most famous sikhae is the Hamkyong Province's flatfish sikhae. There is another traditional Korean food which has a similar name: sikhyae. It is a kind of soft drink which is made by fermenting cooked rice with syrup. Served when chilled, the drink is widely enjoyed in Korea.

Shrimp juice

The fish juice is made by salting shrimp. It has a flavor that is cool and clean. There are also a few sub-groups of the fish juice. The one that is made with shrimp that's caught in June is best for winter kimchi. The rest of them are generally used as on-table sauce to go with boiled pork slices. Shrimp juice is also added to Ggagduki. For making kimchi, choose the one made with shrimps caught in June. Also it is better when individual shrimps are not crushed in the fermenting process. Good shrimp juice should show the following characteristics: Clean and fat with a tinge of pink is the right look of the solid. For the liquid, it should be white-yellow and taste good.

Anchovy juice

This is a kind of fish juice that is made by fermenting anchovy with salt, and is the one of the most popular kinds of fish juice together with the shrimp juice. The best season for anchovies is May or June, so the juice is also made in these months. Fresh anchovy and salt are mixed at a ratio of 10:6. A layer of anchovy after a layer of salt is repeated to fill a pot. A thick layer of salt on top to cover everything beneath is the last touch. The pot is sealed airtight for fermentation. When selecting anchovy juice, choose the one that is well fermented so as the bones are not to be very easily identifiable. There should be no fishy smell. Dark red and tasty juice is best. The juice can make a clear sauce when boiled and filtered with Korean paper. The clear sauce is usually for making Chinese Cabbage Kimchi. For Ggagduki, they sometimes add the solid part too after mincing. Anchovy juice can give kimchi a deep flavor. The kinds of kimchi where anchovy juice is added include Leaf Mustard Kimchi, Leek Kimchi, Scallion Kimchi and Godeulbaegi Kimchi.

Yellow corvenia juice

This is a kind of fish juice made by fermenting yellow corvenia in salt, and is added to kimchi throughout Korea together with shrimp juice and anchovy juice. Well-fermented juice is yellow with silver showing clearly, and the liquid is a little oily. Appropriate size of the fish is between 15 and 20cm (6 to 8 inches). The flesh part is pared out and minced to mix into the seasoning for cabbage kimchi. The bones are hard-boiled and mixed with the liquid part.

[ Home | Everyting | History | Benefit | Regional | Seasonal | dishes ]