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20 / July

Are Korean Scientists Changing the Smell of Kimchi?

Kimchi is the most highly-recognized staple of Korean cuisine. This fermented vegetable dish is well known for its unique taste and aroma, which permeates the air in Southern Korea. While Koreans relish this odor, many westerners are not so fond of it, leading scientists scurrying to tone done the smell. Can it actually be possible to change the smell of kimchi? Read on to find out more.

Efforts to Globalize Kimchi

Scientists at the World Institute of Kimchi in South Korea have a goal: to globalize kimchi. They see many areas of the world as an untapped market, as more people across the globe are becoming interested in healthy foods. The art of creating different foods such as kimchi is especially enticing to millennials in particular.

There’s widespread agreement as to kimchi’s potential, but the one thing that prevents many people from trying it in the first place is its odor. As such, there is some consensus that kimchi might be even more popular if its smell were neutralized somewhat.

Engineering Focus

In changing the scent, scientists are focused on “engineering the smell out of kimchi.” In doing so, they acknowledge that this process is more difficult than one would imagine. Much of the odor is attributed to the spices and garlic used to make it. As such, kimchi’s smell and taste are closely related, so even slight changes in aroma might ultimately affect the flavor.

Aside from re-engineering the smell, scientists are also toying with ways to increase the number of good bacteria found in kimchi. This is essential as well, since part of the plan to increase kimchi consumption hinges on the ability to sell this dish as a superfood.

Dealing with the Smell

Traditional kimchi is made with garlic and ginger, which create sulfur compounds that are largely responsible for its stench. For those who desire a milder aroma, the institute recommends “white kimchi”, a type made from white cabbage that does not contain any chili powder or heavy spices. Anyone who is concerned that storing kimchi in the refrigerator might cause other foods to smell will find that placing it in a tightly sealed container will eliminate this problem.

Not Everyone is Happy

Not everyone is happy with the World Institute of Kimchi’s efforts. Some worry that the traditional dish they grew up with will no longer have the same taste they are accustomed to. Many even find the smell of kimchi very pleasant, and do not wish to have it changed. Immigrants are often confused as to why Americans find dishes such as kimchi offensive, and feel as though they are being discriminated against by having to enjoy them in secret.

When it comes to kimchi, people tend to feel differently about its scent. Efforts to change the aroma might make this dish more palatable to Americans; however, those who prefer a more traditional fragrance (and taste) will find there are still plenty of choices available from authentic cuisine vendors such as Seoul Hot.

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