Kimchi is a staple Korean side dish made from fermented vegetables like napa cabbage, radish, and scallions. Known for its spicy, tangy, and umami flavors, kimchi can be used in a variety of dishes beyond the traditional banchan served at Korean meals. With an abundance of probiotics and nutrients, kimchi is also praised for its health benefits. If you find yourself with extra jars of kimchi, there are many delicious ways to use it up. Here are some creative ideas for what to do with kimchi.
Enjoy it as a Side Dish
Kimchi is most commonly eaten as a banchan, or side dish, in Korean cuisine. Koreans will often have small plates of various kimchi accompany their rice and soup at meal times. Some classic kimchi banchan dishes are:
This is the most common and well known type of kimchi, made from napa cabbage. The cabbage is cut into thick strips or chunks and fermented with a red chili pepper paste. Refreshing and spicy, baechu kimchi is served at nearly every Korean meal.
Kkakdugi is kimchi made from cut cubes of Korean radish, known as daikon. The crunchy, juicy radishes bring a fresh, crisp texture and milder flavor.
Gat kimchi features leaves of mustard greens rolled up with a filling of spices, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. The small rolls make for a fun, bite-sized kimchi.
Make Kimchi Jjigae
Kimchi jjigae is a delicious Korean stew made with kimchi. Slow cooked with onions, garlic, tofu, mushrooms, and gochujang (red chili paste), it makes for a warming, satisfying soup. You can add other ingredients like pork, beef, or canned tuna for a heartier stew. Kimchi jjigae is traditionally served piping hot in an earthenware bowl with rice.
For a vegan kimchi jjigae, simply omit the protein and use vegetable broth. Add in more tofu, mushrooms, onions, and greens for a tasty plant-based stew.
Clams, shrimp, squid, and fish can also be thrown into the jjigae for a seafood version bursting with flavor.
Make Kimchi Fried Rice
Fried rice is one of the easiest meals to whip up with leftover kimchi. Simply fry up cooked rice with kimchi, garlic, ginger, eggs, green onions, and sesame oil for an umami bomb of a meal. Pork, chicken, shrimp, or extra vegetables can be added in as well. The kimchi flavors the entire dish.
Spice Up Fried Rice
Add some heat to your kimchi fried rice with gochujang (Korean red chili paste) or gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes). A sprinkle of either will give your rice a spicy kick.
Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice
For a vegan/vegetarian kimchi fried rice, use cubed extra-firm tofu instead of egg and mushroom broth instead of chicken broth. Load it up with your favorite vegetables too.
Make Kimchi Pancakes
Savory kimchi pancakes, known as kimchi jeon or kimchi buchimgae, are another popular Korean street food you can easily make at home. Mix together a simple batter of flour, egg, broth, and chopped kimchi. Fry like pancakes in oil and enjoy with a dipping sauce.
Thin and Crispy
For thin, crispy kimchi pancakes, spread the batter very thinly in the pan. Frying in just a bit of oil will keep them crispy.
Thick and Fluffy
For a thicker, fluffier texture, use more batter per pancake so they are about 1/2 inch thick. Let cook fully so the insides cook through.
Add to Sandwiches and Burgers
Elevate your basic sandwiches and burgers by topping them with spicy, tangy kimchi. The kimchi cuts through the richness and adds great flavor on everything from grilled cheese to pulled pork sandwiches.
Kimchi Grilled Cheese
A gooey grilled cheese sandwich gets taken to the next level with slices of kimchi inside. The melted cheese softens the crunchy kimchi texture.
Top your favorite burger with both cheese and kimchi for double the flavor impact. The kimchi also pairs amazingly well with beef.
Make Kimchi Deviled Eggs
Kimchi and eggs are a stellar combination. To make kimchi deviled eggs, simply mix some finely chopped kimchi into your classic deviled egg filling. Scoop the spicy mixture into hard boiled egg halves for a fun twist.
Top your kimchi deviled eggs with crispy cooked bacon bits for extra smoky, salty flavor and crunch.
Chopped green onions bring a fresh, aromatic element to balance the rich egg yolk and pungent kimchi.
Toss with Noodles and Pasta
Noodles and pasta dishes are easy ways to use up leftover kimchi as well. The pickled kimchi adds great flavor, acidity, texture, and even nutrition to an otherwise basic bowl of noodles.
Spicy Kimchi Noodles
Mix kimchi into Asian noodles and dress with some soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and Korean red pepper for a quick weeknight meal. Garnish with sliced green onions.
Pasta seasoned with kimchi, butter, garlic, lemon juice, and Parmesan is a unexpectedly delicious mash-up meal. The kimchi adds that “something extra” to basic pasta.
Make Kimchi Quesadillas
For a fusion take, add kimchi to quesadillas or grilled cheese. The cheese mellows out the kimchi’s bite. Sauté up any extra fillings like onion and mushroom to throw in as well. Serve with sour cream or guacamole.
Chicken Kimchi Quesadillas
Sautéed chicken goes perfect with melty cheese and kimchi quesadillas. The chicken adds extra substance and soaks up the flavors.
Shrimp Kimchi Quesadillas
Shrimp adds even more ocean-y umami flavors to balance the spice and tang of the kimchi in quesadillas.
Top Pizza with Kimchi
Kimchi is unexpected but amazing piled onto a hot pizza. Look for a nice cheesy pizza and add kimchi on top for spice and crunch. The heat cuts through the rich, oily pizza flavors.
Spicy Kimchi Pizza
For an extra flavor punch, drizzle over some chili oil or red pepper flakes too. The kimchi and heat complement each other perfectly.
Kimchi and Sausage Pizza
Hearty sliced sausage and kimchi is a stellar pizza topping combo. The sausages soak up the kimchi’s juices.
Bake into Savory Pies and Tarts
The flavors of kimchi shine baked into savory pies like quiches, galettes, pot pies and more. Kimchi’s punch stands up to eggs, cheese and whatever fillings you like.
Diced kimchi mixed with egg custard and your choice of bacon, ham, or sausage makes for a stellar quiche. Bake up in a pie crust for brunch.
Kimchi Hand Pies
Mix kimchi with mashed potatoes or ground pork to fill hand pies, empanadas, dumplings, etc. Deep fry or pan fry for an on-the-go snack.
With a little creativity, kimchi can be used in many dishes beyond traditional Korean cuisine. Its unique flavor profile enhances meats, noodles, sandwiches, pizzas, and more worldwide favorites. With health benefits and endless flavor, kimchi is a versatile ingredient to always have on hand. Get creative with these recipes for new ways to enjoy kimchi!