Unleashing the Flavors of Fermented Vegetables: A Guide to Making and Using Kimchi in Your Cooking

Unleashing the Flavors of Fermented Vegetables: A Guide to Making and Using Kimchi in Your Cooking

Unleashing the Flavors of Fermented Vegetables: A Guide to Making and Using Kimchi in Your Cooking

Fermented vegetables are a wonderful source of nutrients, rich in probiotics that help promote gut health, among other benefits. One of the most popular fermented vegetable dishes is Kimchi, a traditional Korean side dish made with Napa cabbage, radish, spices, and seasoning. Kimchi is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a flavorful and nutritious addition to any meal.

In this guide, we will walk you through the process of making kimchi at home and show you different creative ways to incorporate this delicious fermented vegetable into your cooking.


To make a basic Kimchi recipe, you will need:

  • 1 large head Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup Korean chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce or soy sauce


  1. Slice the Napa cabbage into quarters lengthwise, remove the core and chop into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Soak the cabbage in a large bowl of saltwater: dissolve the salt in water, pour it over the cabbage, making sure all the pieces are covered, and let it rest for at least 2 hours, or until the leaves are wilted and flexible.
  3. Rinse the cabbage several times in cold running water, to remove excess salt, and drain well.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the scallions, grated carrot, ginger, garlic, sugar, chili flakes, and fish sauce (or soy sauce) to form a paste.
  5. Add the drained cabbage to the paste and mix well, making sure every piece of cabbage is coated.
  6. Place the kimchi mixture into a large airtight jar or container, pressing down on the mixture firmly with a spoon or spatula to remove any air pockets.
  7. Top with a cabbage leaf or parchment paper to make sure all the cabbage is covered. Leave a small gap between the mixture and the lid, as the kimchi will expand as it ferments.
  8. Leave the kimchi at room temperature for 24-48 hours, then transfer it to the refrigerator to continue the fermentation process for up to a few weeks.

Creative Ways to Use Kimchi

Now that you have made your delicious kimchi, here are some ideas to incorporate it into your meals:

  1. Add it to a Buddha bowl: layer a bed of quinoa or brown rice with roasted vegetables and protein, and top with a dollop of kimchi for a tangy and spicy kick.
  2. Make a kimchi fried rice: sautee some onions, garlic, and diced ham, add cooked rice, scrambled eggs, and a generous portion of kimchi, then stir fry all together until crispy.
  3. Serve it as a side to grilled meat or fish: kimchi's tangy flavor is a perfect complement to the smokiness of grilled meats or fish.
  4. Use it as a condiment: add it to tacos, burgers, or hot dogs instead of traditional toppings for an asian-inspired twist.
  5. Make Kimchi soup: simmer chicken or vegetable broth, add diced tofu, scallions, and a few spoonfuls of kimchi and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the flavors meld together.


Making kimchi at home is a straightforward way to enjoy and benefit from the many flavors and nutrients of fermented vegetables. Experiment with different spice combinations and try out new recipes to incorporate kimchi into your cooking. Whether served as a side or used as a flavor boost, kimchi adds a punch of tang and spice to any meal.