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Regional Influences

Create Wide Varieties


of Kimchi
Although a basic fermentation process is central to kimchi, a countless variety of
ingredients and seasonings can be included in its preparation. With the Korean Peninsula
lying along a lengthy north-south axis, its wide range of climatic conditions have
contributed to a diverse array of cultural characteristics,
including distinctive variations of kimchi.
Han Bokryeo President, Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine

16 Koreana | Winter 2008

Kimchi varieties differ according to the particular vegetable ingredient,


seasonings, and region of origin.
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Winter 2008 | Koreana 17

he diverse regional influences of


the Korean Peninsula, as a result of notable variances in climatic
and geographical conditions, have
contributed to the creation of a wide
variety of unique types of kimchi. In
general, kimchi in the southern regions
is characterized by its bright redness,
sharp taste, and minimal liquid, while
that of the central regions is associated
with types with a lighter red color, due
to the use of less red pepper, which
is served with a considerable amount
of liquid. Farther north, the kimchi is
immersed in liquid, mild in taste, and
crisp in texture.
The southern areas of the Korean
Peninsula are relatively warmer, so additional salt is needed to prevent the
kimchi from fermenting too quickly.
In contrast, in the north, people will
prepare kimchi with less salt and lighter
seasoning, which serves to accentuate
the natural vegetable flavors. Meanwhile, the kimchi of the central regions
covers a broad spectrum of diversity,
with more moderate and subtle tastes.
Regional Characteristics
In addition to the salt that is needed
to preserve the vegetable ingredients,
and red chili pepper, which gives kimchi its distinctive spiciness and redness,
there are several other ingredients that
factor into its savory taste. In particular,
the salted seafood items, which are produced by a lengthy maturation process,
vary widely based on regional and cultural influences.
The regional characteristics of kimchi can be identified from the type of
salted seafood ingredient used in its
preparation: in the southern regions,
people favor salted anchovies; along the
eastern coast, salted large-head hairtail
fish and salted chub mackerel; and in
the central regions, salted yellow corvina
and salted shrimp.
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Salted anchovies are made from


fresh anchovies caught off the southern coast, which are salted and left to
mature. Anchovies preserved for two
to three months are known as salted
anchovies, while those aged for six
months or more are referred to as salted anchovy brine. Large-head hairtail
are preserved by salting the entire fish,
which are allowed to ferment for a year
or so, until the flesh acquires a deep
chestnut brown color.
Different types of seafood ingredients are included in the preparation of
kimchi because of the fact that, above
all, it is a staple of common people,
which necessitates the use of readily
available products from local areas. The
inclusion of salted seafood helps to prevent the kimchi from over-fermenting,
and turning rotten, along with adding
to its complex and zesty flavorfulness.
However, the seafood ingredients need
to be used in moderation, so as to not
produce a fishy odor.
The garlic, ginger, and red chili
pepper added to kimchi can serve to
neutralize any fishy smell of the salted
seafood, which aids in the proper fermentation. Another kimchi ingredient is
an alga gathered from the rocky shorelines of shallow coastal waters, commonly known as dead mans fingers
or sea staghorn. It helps the kimchi
to maintain a firmer texture, while also
increasing its nutritional value, in terms
of calcium and phosphorus content.
In Goheung, Jeollanam-do Province,
the local specialties of oysters and ark
clams are often added in large amounts,
which results in a unique kimchi, with
a distinctive seafood taste. Also, citron
might be added at times to offset the
kimchis spiciness with a subtle citrus
fragrance. As for the City of Donghae,
Gangwon-do Province, along the east
coast, a cuttlefish kimchi is prepared
during the cuttlefish season, which

Essential kimchi seasonings


include salt and various salted seafood,
such as fermented anchovy,
large-head hairtail, yellow corvina,
and shrimp. The salted seafood helps to
enhance the kimchis savory taste and
provides the protein, calcium,
and fat that are lacking
in the vegetable ingredients.

Kimchi Gyeonmunnok , Designhouse

features cuttlefish and shredded white


radish that offer a delightful contrast of
chewy and crunchy textures.
Gaeseong is known for combining
kimchi with a variety of 35 or so ingredients, such as apple, pear, pine nuts,
jujube fruit, gingko nuts, octopus, and
abalone, within a cabbage-leaf wrapping. Pyeongyang-style Chinese cabbage
kimchi includes various types of nutritious mushrooms, such as shiitake and
rock mushrooms. It is lightly salted and
served immersed in liquid.
However, the development of mod-

ern transportation and the mobility of


todays society have tended to diminish the uniqueness of regional characteristics, as ever more people end up
moving away from their hometown.
For example, in the capital district and
City of Seoul, which is home to about
one-quarter of Koreas population, its
residents include people from across the
country, who might continue their regional kimchi-making practices, but also
adopt new variations due to interaction
with neighbors and the availability of
ingredients. As such, this convergence of

influences has contributed to a kind of


standardization of todays kimchi.
Furthermore, the various types of
salted seafood ingredients are increasingly being used in combination with
each other, thereby reducing the distinctiveness of kimchi varieties previously
associated with a particular region.
Nevertheless, any number of regional
kimchi specialties is still available in
outlying locations, such as the variety
with salted sand eel, which is offered in
the Chungcheong-do and Gyeonggi-do
provinces.
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Dongji kimchi

Jejudo
Jejudo, the southernmost island of Korea, enjoys a warm climate that makes
it unnecessary for residents to
prepare preserved vegetables for the winter season. Due to its natural environment, Jeju is associated with only a limited number of kimchi variations, which
are not intended to be kept for long.

Still, dongji kimchi is unique to Jejudo, which is traditionally prepared on


the first full moon of the lunar New Year,
with Chinese cabbage that has survived
the winter. When pale yellow flowers
bloom on the cabbage plants, they are
gathered up and soaked in brine, drained
and combined with salted anchovies,
garlic, and red pepper, then briefly fermented, resulting in a refreshing taste.

ous Jeolla-do kimchi. Preserved yellow


corvina and shrimp are popular choices,
although salted anchovies is the most
common seafood ingredient for making
kimchi.
Red pepper is liberally added to kimchi, along with sesame seeds and pieces
of chestnuts as garnish. Rather than red
pepper powder, coarsely ground red
pepper, which has been combined with
salted seafood in advance, is used for
seasoning. The region is well-known
for the spiciness of its savory kimchi,

which includes varieties made with the


bitter roots of Korean lettuce, as well as
a watery radish kimchi, of Naju, and a
mustard-leaf variation, of Haenam.

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Jeolla-do
Jeolla-do kimchi is
characterized by a taste
that is said to be spicy
and salty, as well as rich
and savory. Due to its
full-bodied flavor, some
people will add glutinous
rice paste in order to create a more refined taste.
From its southern and western coasts, there is a wealth of
diverse seafood for the making of vari-

Oyster and white radish kimchi


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Gyeongsang-do
People along the southern coastal region of Gyeongsang-do favor generous
amounts of garlic and red pepper, but little ginger. After Chinese cabbage is
soaked in salty brine, it is pressed to remove excess liquid, seasoned with a
large amount of salted seafood, and then crammed tightly into storage containers.
The kimchi here is characterized by its heavy use of salted
seafood, which is typically salted anchovies. As compared to the
heavier salted anchovies that are found in Seoul, the local version is allowed to ferment longer, resulting in a reddish extract,
which looks such as soy sauce. This anchovy extract, which is
known by a number of names, such as aekjeot , myeoljang , and eoja ,
can also be used as a general seasoning. Raw ingredients, such as
large-head hairtail, are also included to make kimchi, after being
finely sliced and combined with red pepper powder and salt.
Young radish kimchi
Pulmuone Kimchi Museum

20 Koreana | Winter 2008

In general, kimchi in the southern


regions is characterized by its bright
redness, sharp taste, and minimal liquid,
while that of the central regions is
associated with types with
a lighter red color, due to the use of
less red pepper, and served with
a considerable amount of liquid.
Farther north, the kimchi is
immersed in liquid, mild in taste,
and crisp in texture.

Mustard-leaf kimchi is a popular side dish of the Jeolla-do region.


Generous seasoning with chili pepper powder gives it a noticeable spiciness, while the distinctive aroma
and mild bitterness of the mustard leaf is said to stimulate your appetite.
Topic Photo

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White radish kimchi is an everyday version made by chopping a large radish into cubes.
Autumn radish is especially sweet and firm, making it ideal for a flavorful white radish kimchi.
In coastal regions, this kimchi is often combined with oysters.
Topic Photo

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Chungcheong-do
The kimchi of Chungcheong-do is often not
as salty as in other regions, and also simpler
to prepare than that of
the Seoul/Gyeonggi-do
area. Basic ingredients include mustard leaf, dropwort,
green onions, fermented red
pepper, and dead mans fingers.
Chinese cabbage and white radish

are also salted and seasoned whole, and


then packed into separate jars, according to their salt content. There is also a
mixed cabbage and white radish kimchi,
in which the ingredients are chopped
into large chunks and mixed together,
then seasoned with the extract of salted
seafood, such as yellow corvina or
shrimp. Young radish kimchi is often
made, but unlike the white radish kimchi of Seoul, it is only lightly seasoned to
enhance its refreshing taste.

Combination of cabbage
and radish kimchi
Pulmuone Kimchi Museum

Wrapped kimchi

Seoul / Gyeonggi-do
In the densely populated areas of Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, the kimchi
does not lend itself to clear characterization. However, it could be
described as being less distinctive, in terms of regional traits,
which can be attributed to a desire to appeal to a wider range
of taste preferences. Typical kimchi types are made with
Chinese cabbage, young radish, and white radish, along with
wrapped kimchi.
Other popular varieties of Seoul include palace-style soy
kimchi, boiled white radish kimchi, cucumber kimchi, and
scale kimchi, in which the radish surface is sliced into scalelike pieces. The seafood seasonings are usually salted shrimp,
salted anchovies, or salted yellow corvina, which are readily available, in addition to a variety of raw ingredients, such
shrimp, pollack, and large-head hairtail.

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Gangwon-do
With Gangwon-do Province being situated alongside the
East Sea, its kimchi specialties include those prepared with
fresh pollack and cuttlefish, which uniquely feature the
fragrance and rich taste of fresh seafood. Chinese cabbage
kimchi is generally similar to that of the central regions,
but can be distinguished by the addition of slices of raw
cuttlefish and dried pollack, which bolster the calcium
content and nutritional value. White radish is chopped
into large chunks, mixed with red pepper powder, and added
to the cabbage layers.

Bonnet bellflower root kimchi


prepared with fermented lancefish sauce
Kimchi Gyeonmunnok , Designhouse

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Hwanghae-do
The kimchi here is relatively similar to that found in
Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, and Chungcheong-do; however,
it is distinctive in regard to the use of particular spices,
such as cilantro for Chinese cabbage kimchi, and fruit of
the prickly ash for squash kimchi. Squash kimchi, as in
Chungcheong-do, is made from a mixture of squash and
brine-soaked Chinese cabbage cut into large pieces, salted, and allowed to mature. It is often boiled and served in
kimchi stew dishes.
Squash kimchi
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Pyeongan-do
As for Pyeongando, the regions kimchi
is notable for its light seasoning and large volume
of liquid. Chinese cabbage and white radish
kimchi are made separately, and also in a combination, with both being
packed together in the same
container. The seasoning consists
of shredded white radish, green onions,
garlic, ginger, red pepper powder, and
thinly sliced red chili pepper, along with

raw pollack, large-head hairtail, clams,


and shrimp. This can be supplemented
with salted young large-head hairtail,
yellow corvina, and shrimp, combined
with a small amount of red pepper powder.
Of note, the liquid, unlike that of
Hamgyeong-do Province, is not a brine
solution, but a beef broth seasoned
with salt, from which the fat has been
skimmed off. In addition to being savored for its refreshing zest, the tangy
liquid is also served as a broth for cold
noodle dishes. Pyeongan-do is especially
known for its watery white radish kim-

chi and white radish kimchi served with


cold noodles.

Chinese cabbage water kimchi with light seasoning


Korea Agro-Fisheries Trade Corporation

White radish water kimchi


Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine

24 Koreana | Winter 2008

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Hamgyeong-do
The regional kimchi of Hamgyeongdo is known for its spiciness, but is typically less salty and served with a large
amount of liquid. When properly fermented, the kimchi is enjoyed for its refreshing taste and distinctive tanginess.

Chinese cabbage kimchi is
much like that of other regions, but
is made with a spicy seasoning sauce,
which is splashed 5onto areas here and

there, rather than being spread


throughout ingredients, creating splotches of red on
the cabbage sections.
In place of salted
seafood, raw pollack
and flatfish are sliced,
mixed with red pepper powder, and
inserted between the
Chinese cabbage leaves.

White radish water kimchi is prepared with whole radishes or radish chunks that are immersed in liquid, which results in a milder flavor.
It is buried in the ground during the winter and allowed to ferment for at least one month.
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