Korean cuisine is notable for its mastery and use of pickling in a wide variety of foods, particularly vegetables. There are two ways to pickle a vegetable in Korean cuisine, depending on how well you want to ferment it. You may not want to ferment it at all, which means that you can prepare it quickly to eat right after. The resulting creation is known as geotjeori or 겉절이 (vegetables that are pickled right before eating).
Pickled Spring Cabbage or 봄동 겉절이 via 황금연못
Kimchi, on the other hand, requires fermentation, so it is important to soak it in brine until the vegetables soften to the desired texture. Beyond Kimchee has an excellent series of posts introducing the background and art of making authentic Korean kimchi (part 1, part 2, and part 3). I like my kimchi to taste fresh and crunchy, so I don't keep it around for too long. Once it has gotten to the point of staleness, it loses its appeal to me as a fresh dish. But once that happens, it can still be a delicious addition to fried dishes like kimchi bokkeumbap (김치 볶음밥, kimchi fried rice) or jeyuk bokkeum (제육볶음, kimchi pork saute). For best flavor, however, it is best to wait until the kimchi goes sour, turning into shin kimchi (신김치, sour kimchi). This also goes quite well in kimchi chigae (김치 찌개, kimchi stew). The tartier taste of shin kimchi makes for a kimchi chigae with a greater tang and deepness than that made with regular kimchi. Korean Food at Home has an excellent post on how to ripen and sour kimchi.
Kimchi or 김치 via Misty Yoon
Kimchi Bokkeumbap or 김치 볶음 밥 via Eating and Living
Kimchi Bokkeumbap (with egg) via My Korean Food
Jeyuk Bokkeum or 제육볶음 via Eating and Living
Kimchi Stew (with Pork) or 김치 찌개 via Top Chef Korea
Tuna Kimchi Stew or 참치 김치 찌개 (Korean) via Naver Kitchen
Tuna Kimchi Stew (English) via Migi's Kitchen
Posted by tastingkorea