Kimchi or Gimchi or kimchee is a traditional Korean dish of fermented chile peppers and vegetables, usually based on cabbage. Kimchi may have originally meant "steeped/submerged vegetable". As Koreans are proud to brag, it is one of the healthiest foods in the world .
Common ingredients include Chinese cabbage, radish, garlic, red pepper, spring onion, fermented shrimp or other seafood, ginger, salt, and sugar. There are variants, including ggakddugi, based on radish and containing no cabbage, and oisobagi, stuffed cucumber kimchi. Ggaennip, or perilla leaf, kimchi features layers of perilla leaves marinated in soy sauce, peppers, garlic, green onions, and other spices. While Kimchi is generally identified internationally as Chinese cabbage fermented with a mixture of red pepper, garlic, ginger, and salted fish sauce (baechu kimchi), many different types of Kimchi exist, including regional and seasonal variations. The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has documented 187 varieties of kimchi, known historically or currently. The Gwangju Kimchi Festival, which takes place each November, features a large assortment of Jeolla-do's kimchi, often spicier and flavoured with more jeot than from other regions of Korea.
Baechu kimchi (Chinese cabbage kimchi) is now the most common variety; it was developed relatively recently. Chili peppers were introduced to Korea (by way of Japan) only in the early 17th century, and thus Kimchi utilizing red peppers would have been popularized some years after that (200 years, by one estimate) . In addition, the introduction of Chinese cabbage probably did not occur until the 19th century ; Kimchi before then would have been made from more indigenous vegetables.
In Korea, Kimchi is a popular side dish but is also often used as an ingredient in cooking, as in kimchi jjigae (kimchi soup) and kimchi bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice) amongst other dishes. Kimchi keeps a long time, but when it gets old and flat, it often meets its fate in a pot of the aforementioned jjigae.
South Korea imports more kimchi than it exports. Most import kimchi comes from China. In 2005, it became clear that some part of Chinese kimchi contained eggs of parasites. Several days later, it also became clear that some part of South Korean Kimchi also contained eggs of parasites.
Lactobacilli are heavily involved in the fermentation of kimchi, which results in a higher lactic acid content in the final product than in yoghurt.
In East Asia, the low number of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome cases in Korea is sometimes attributed to the Korean habit of eating large quantities of kimchi, although no definitive link between kimchi consumption and SARS resistance was ever scientifically established . As with many dishes of high ethnic significance, some may claim that kimchi has many healthful properties. Some studies have linked its consumption to a reduced risk of gastric cancer; other studies have linked consumption of certain types of kimchi to an increased risk of cancer  .
It is somewhat unusual but Kimchi can be made with western cabbage if Chinese cabbage is not available or if the original variety is too pungent for beginners. The taste tends to be lighter and less piquant.