Kimchi is a Korean fermented dish made of vegetables and a broad variety of seasonings. While dozens of variations exist, most kimchi recipes use nappa cabbage, radishes or cucumbers as their base. Among the most popular seasonings are brine, scallions, red peppers, garlic, saeujeot (a shrimp-based sauce) and aekjeot (a type of fish sauce).

Types of kimchi obviously vary depending on the ingredients used, but their region of origin and the season in which they are prepared also play their part. For example, contrary to the kimchi traditionally made in South Korea, which is very generous in salt and red peppers, North Korean kimchi tends to be both less salty and less spicy; likewise, seafoodbased brine, which is very popular in the South, is usually left out in the North.

Different types of kimchi are consumed throughout the year, depending primarily on the climate and ingredient availability. And while refrigeration now allows more control over the different stages of fermentation, Koreans as a whole remain attached to their traditions, and as such, there has been little to no change as far as kimchi consumption habits go.

Summer kimchi, which is made using seasonal vegetables, is usually very fresh. After summer, a period of a few weeks follows, which coincides with the year’s tenth moon, during which kimchi is prepared in large quantities in anticipation of the cold winter months. For the families that partake in this tradition, called Gimjam, it is the perfect occasion to spend meaningful time together.