Kimchi is synonymous with South Korea. Although it is just a side dish, the mix of fermented vegetables and spices is so common in Korean households that a South Korean-born chef once told the media it is “like air in Korea.”
The Kimchi ‘Smell’
Kimchi’s unique taste is what makes people love it or hate it. The dish has a red shade, the mix of vegetables and seafood sauces, has a sour and garlicky taste, making it has a very strong taste and smell.
So now, South Korean scientists at the World Institute of Kimchi are working to lighten up some of kimchi’s characteristics, one of them is its strong smell so it will be more suitable to a foreigner’s taste.
Using Engineering to Remove the Smell of Kimchi
“We’re trying to take the smell out of kimchi using engineering,” researcher Lee Mi stated. “But it is a difficult process because the smell is linked to the flavor of the kimchi.”
The aim of this is to create a global market for the traditional pickled dish, which has been around for more than a thousand years ― so disturbing its recipe to make it more suitable for non-Korean is important for business.
Koreans’ are Upset Scientists are Messing with Their Cultural Identity
Being a food staple in Korea, kimchi is also an important part of the Koreans’ cultural identity. This makes it an upsetting news for those who grew up with kimchi, as it is a reminder that in countries like the U.S., traditional Asian foods such as kimchi are viewed as a source of shame that Asian immigrants and their children must hide or adapt to be accepted.
Furthermore, kimchi is so deeply rooted in Korean culture that the tradition of making and sharing the dish, known as “kimjang,” is recognized by UNESCO as an important cultural heritage of humanity.
By globalizing kimchi, the World Institute of Kimchi has a chance to introduce one of South Korea’s most well-known dishes to the rest of the world as it originally is and to promote its healthful qualities.