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What Does Kimchi Taste Like?

If you've never had kimchi before, your first question is probably: what does kimchi taste like?! In this post, I'll answer that question and share everything you need to know about this popular Korean condiment!

Overhead view of kimchi tofu scramble on plate with avocado toast

What Is Kimchi?

First thing's first: what exactly is kimchi? 

Kimchi is a traditional salted and fermented vegetable dish originating from Korea. It’s typically made with vegetables such as napa cabbage, radish, and spring onions, then mixed with spices and seasonings like red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. The mixture is left to ferment for a period of time before being eaten.

You can buy kimchi at most grocery stores these days, or you can make it at home. It's a staple in Korean cuisine and considered to be healthy because it’s fermented, like sauerkraut, miso, and kombucha.

What Exactly Does Kimchi Taste Like?

It's hard to describe the exact taste of kimchi, as it can vary depending on how it's made and what ingredients are used. But generally, kimchi has a tangy, spicy, and slightly sour taste, with a hint of umami flavor from the fermentation process.

Some people compare kimchi's spiciness to that of hot sauce or salsa, but with a more complex and layered flavor profile. It can also have a slightly crunchy texture if made with fresh vegetables, or a softer, more pickled texture if left to ferment for longer.

Is Kimchi Good for Your Gut?

Yes, kimchi is a beneficial food for gut health! The fermentation process creates probiotics, which are live microorganisms that help balance the bacteria in your digestive tract. This may lead to improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and overall better gut health.

The health benefits of kimchi go beyond probiotics, though. Kimchi is also high in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and B6. 

Overhead view of kimchi fried rice in bowl

How Should You Eat Kimchi?

There are countless ways to enjoy kimchi! In Korean cuisine, it's often served alongside rice and main dishes. But you can also use it as a topping for noodles, in soups and stews, or even on pizza.

Why Does Kimchi Taste Fishy?

Traditional kimchi is often made with Korean fish sauce and salted fermented shrimp, which is why it has a fishy taste. However, there are also vegetarian and vegan versions of kimchi that do not use fish sauce, which means they don’t have that fishy flavor.

What Pairs With Kimchi?

Kimchi pairs well with a variety of foods and flavors. Some common pairings include grilled meat, rice dishes, tofu, and seafood. The spicy, tangy flavors of kimchi also go well with rich or creamy dishes to balance out the flavors.

My Favorite Ways to Use Kimchi

Now that you know what kimchi tastes like, it's time to eat! These recipes either use kimchi as an ingredient or they can be served with kimchi as an accompaniment.

10 Minute Quinoa with Kimchi

Kimchi Fried Quinoa

Kimchi adds layers of flavors to fried rice—and quinoa fried rice too! Serve alongside a simple stir fry for a well-rounded dinner.
Check out this recipe
This Kimchi Tofu Scramble uses just 5 INGREDIENTS and takes only 5 minutes to make! [312 calories, 27g protein]

5-Minute Kimchi Tofu Scramble

Tofu doesn't have much flavor on its own, so pairing it with pungent kimchi in this scramble recipe takes it to the next level!
overhead of a white bowl with asian salad of quinoa, carrots, edamame, purple cabbage and lime

Asian Quinoa Power Salad

This colorful quinoa salad is loaded with texture and flavor, and kimchi adds a probiotic punch too. The perfect work lunch!
Check out this recipe
spicy kimchi quinoa bowls with fried egg

Spicy Kimchi Quinoa Bowls

With kale, quinoa, and fried eggs, these spicy kimchi bowls are a super satisfying dinner that comes together with minimal effort.
Check out this recipe

Vegan Kimchi Queso Dip

Creamy vegan queso gets an instant upgrade by adding tangy kimchi! The flavor cuts some of the richness of the queso, creating a perfectly balanced dish.
Check out this recipe
Quinoa Sushi Bowls! Made with tons of veggies, spicy tofu and a ginger miso dressing!

Vegan Quinoa Sushi Bowls

One of my favorite ways to use kimchi is to add it to meal bowls, as with these vegan quinoa sushi bowls. It's a great way to add some extra flavor to the mix!
Check out this recipe

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