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I've read about kimchi, which is a traditional Korean food made from vegetables. I'm not sure I can find Napa cabbage here in Hungary though - can I make it with regular vegetables?

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I use a mixture of Hungarian paprika and cayenne for my kim chi. Typically I'll also use napa cabbage and bok choy, but kim chi is similar enough to hot sauerkrautthat I expect regular cabbage would work too. –  Wayfaring Stranger May 29 '13 at 15:21
    
Note: this question originally asked very broadly about all Asian food. But it included the specific example of kimchi, which is quite a reasonable question to ask, so I've edited, cleaned up comments, and reopened. –  Jefromi Sep 10 '13 at 16:15
    
@Jefromi Thank you for saving the question! Couldn't find much similar efforts on SE sites. –  Zoltán Schmidt Sep 10 '13 at 16:16
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@ZoltánSchmidt You're welcome! The more questions, the better the site. And I forgot to mention, if you've run into anything else you're having trouble making, please come back and ask. –  Jefromi Sep 10 '13 at 16:19
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

To answer your specific scenario, kimchi has myriad variations using any number of vegetables, from perilla leaves to Korean radishes to napa cabbage. There are forms of kimchi that involve no chilies (white kimchi), some involve a lot of water and bear little resemblance to the typical napa cabbage one (mul kimchi). The main constraints for Korean-ness of kimchi will be that you've fermented it (for all of the types that I can think of, anyway), and that it doesn't stray too far from familiar Korean flavor profiles (rules that you can break if you've got a deep enough foundation in Korean culinary traditions).

Napa cabbage isn't particularly hard to find in Europe, however, so I'm not sure why it would need to be substituted. For whatever reason, it was called "Chinese cabbage" in Germany; I'd be surprised if you couldn't find it. If I wanted to make the typical cabbage kimchi, the hardest thing would have been finding the right kind of chili powder, which I was able to obtain without too much trouble when I was a 20 year old student there many years ago. Then, the typical small bits of raw oysters or other kinds of fish or dried shrimp can reasonably be substituted with locally available ingredients (and some regions in Korea don't always use those ingredients anyway).

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Napa cabbage is called "Chinese cabbage" in Hungary too - I just didn't know it's English name. =) –  Zoltán Schmidt May 29 '13 at 0:03
    
@ZoltánSchmidt I think "Napa Cabbage" is the American name. The English name is "Chinese Cabbage". At least that what they say in England and Australia. As far as I can tell, the German name is Chinakohl. I don't know the Hungarian. –  Adrian Ratnapala Oct 8 '13 at 14:10
    
@AdrianRatnapala In Hungarian, it means the same as in English. –  Zoltán Schmidt Oct 8 '13 at 15:35
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