Photo: Jennifer Causey / Brian Kennedy

This Korean specialty can add zing to your meals. 

Hayley Sugg
November 14, 2017

Finally having its limelight moment in Western cooking, kimchi is a fermented side dish of Korean origins that seems to be popping up all over the place. Typically made with napa cabbage, though radish and cucumber variations are popular as well, kimchi is made by fermenting veggies in a flavorful mix of chili powder, garlic, ginger, and a variety of other seasonings.

Since it's fermented, kimchi is a naturally probiotic-rich food. Meaning not only does it taste great, but it can also boost your gut health with a hefty dose of 'good' bacteria. If you want to get the best benefits, be sure to add kimchi last-minute to avoid overcooking it and accidentally killing off those helpful gut bugs. 

Kimchi is popular in Korean cooking, but has also become a staple ingredient for Western kitchens within the last few years, and for good reason. It's tangy, salty, and boasts a hint of spicy and sour notes. Good enough to eat alone or as a side dish, kimchi can also be utilized by adding its zippy flavor to dishes. Read below to learn our five favorite ways to use kimchi.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Breakfast

Kimchi doesn't have to just be for dinner time. Shakshuka, already known for its spicy red sauce that the eggs are cooked in, can benefit from a little bit of puréed kimchi being added. Amp up any breakfast sandwiches, or even top your eggs benedict, with a dose of sour and spicy flavor by putting a pile of kimchi on top. If you're looking to really branch out, our Cabbage Okonomiyaki (Pancakes) can be served with a little kimchi substituted in for part of the shredded cabbage. 

Jennifer Causey

Rice and Pasta

An obviously delicious use for kimchi, fried rice is only made better by the addition of this fermented veggie. Sometimes a little too rich and oil-heavy, fried rice can be lightened up and balanced out with the sour bite of kimchi, like in our Kimchi Fried Rice recipe. If noodles are your go-to carb instead, then opt for our Brown Rice Noodle Bowls with Tofu, Pork, and Kimchi or put a fun spin on a classic by puréeing kimchi into a tangy marinara sauce

Jennifer Causey

Sandwiches

Sandwiches can always benefit from a tangy or sour ingredient to cut through potentially rich toppings. Everything from slaw to sauerkraut and pickles can upgrade your next meal between two slices of bread, so why not try it with kimchi? We've had kimchi on grilled cheeses, turkey sandwiches, and even Reubens, all of which are enhanced by the salty and spicy addition. If you're hesitant to use kimchi due to its texture, you can always just add the funky taste by stirring a little bit of kimchi liquid into your sandwich spread. 

Soup

A popular soup dish in Korean restaurants is Kimchi Jigae (Kimchi-Pork Soup). The recipe's fairly short ingredients list makes the dish rely on the funky notes of kimchi to flavor it. If you don't want to stick with a traditional recipe though, plenty of other soups can benefit from the addition of kimchi. Adding a scoop or two of it to a vegetable soup can bring your meal from basic to rave-worthy, or switching in kimchi for part of the cabbage in your favorite cabbage soup recipe can add a tangy twist to this comforting meal. 

Jennifer Causey

Sauces and Dips

Any humdrum sauces can be instantly elevated by adding a little kimchi. Its naturally salty and spicy notes will be welcome in more basic recipes that could use a little kick. Two of our favorites are Kimchi-Sesame Hummus, the ultimate pita chip dip, and Kimchi Yogurt Dressing, which only has two ingredients but a world of flavor. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, buffalo sauce can be changed up with the addition of some kimchi liquid before tossing with your favorite chicken or cauliflower wings.