What to do with kimchi besides eating it as a side dish

Who else is on #Koreantine these days? I know I am!

(Koreantine: enjoying all things Korean culture–from kdramas and movies, to food and music–to cope with quarantine blues)

From binge-watching Korean dramas and movies on Netflix and Viu, to listening to BTS and crushing hard on Hyun Bin and Park Seo Joon, I’ve been swept by the Korean wave to the point that I now crave for Korean dishes everyday.

It’s just my luck that I recently learned about the health benefits of my favorite Korean side dish: kimchi. According to science, fermented fruits and vegetables, like my favorite cabbage kimchi, are good for boosting the immunity system–something that is very important, especially with COVID-19 going around.

Kimchi, apparently, is rich in probiotics and prebiotics that help stimulate the immune system by inhibiting toxins and stopping bad bacteria from infesting the body. Other good sources of probiotics and prebiotics are eggplant, asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions, and nuts.

While I love my kimchi, not everyone seems to be very fond of its taste. Most people I know who refuse to eat kimchi either find it too spicy or too sour, and that’s because they only know to eat it straight out of the pack. But here are other ways to eat kimchi and make it more enjoyable for the whole family.

Kimchi Fried Rice with Vienna Sausage

Kimchi Fried Rice

Fried rice or sinangag is a common dish served in Filipino cuisine. We usually eat it for breakfast using leftover rice from dinner and pair it with practically any easy-to-cook viand like tapa, tocino, longganisa, or daing na bangus.

Typically, we cook our sinangag with just garlic and/or shallots. If we’re feeling fancy, we make it Chinese-style by adding some minced carrots, peas, and scrambled egg.

For kimchi fried rice, the process is also pretty simple. Stir-fry some minced garlic, ginger, and white onions in oil. Add chopped kimchi and cooked rice (best to use overnight rice). For every cup of rice, I use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of chopped cabbage kimchi.

Mix everything well and season with a little bit of soy sauce and gochujang chili paste if you want to make it spicier. Finish off with minced green onion and a few drops of sesame oil.

Pair it up with any viand of your choice or for added Korean feels, go for Spam and Korean egg rolls.

Kimchi Pancake (kimchi-buchimgae or kimchi-jeon)

Perfect for a light breakfast or a satisfying snack, kimchi pancake is a healthy and easy-to-make dish that you can enjoy with the whole family.

The cooking process is pretty similar to your standard pancake, but instead of adding milk, you use kimchi and its tasty juice.

Start by sifting 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a bowl. Add one large egg and two cups of cold water and mix. Toss in 1/4 cup of chopped green onions, two cups of chopped cabbage kimchi, and 1-2 tablespoons of kimchi juice (depends on how spicy you want it).

You can make one large pancake on a 9-inch frying pan or four to six small pieces (two tablespoons of mixture per pancake) with this mixture. Fry pancakes in a little bit of oil (I use vegetable oil).

Serve with dipping sauce made with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce, but it’s better if you can buy a Korean branded soy sauce from a Korean grocery store), 4 tablespoons water, and 4 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Kimchi Tofu Stew (kimchi sundubu jjigae)

If you’ve watched the Kdrama Itaewon Class on Netflix, then chances are you’d be craving for the signature dish served at Park Saeroyi’s hip Danbam Pub. Kimchi tofu stew is actually a popular dish in Korea and served in most Korean restaurants here in the Philippines.

Now, there are actually create different varieties of kimchi tofu stew. You can cook it with beef strips (woosamgyup), pork belly strips or bacon, chopped chicken breast or thigh meat, seafood (shrimp, crab meat, or clams), or mushroom (I like shiitake for this).

But for the basic stew, all you need are the following staple ingredients: cabbage kimchi, gochujang chili paste, tofu (you can use either soft or firm), chicken stock, egg, white onion, garlic, ginger, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, red chili flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Since this dish is best served hot, you may want to invest in a Korean clay pot, which you can also use to cook other Korean dishes.

To cook, heat up your clay pot on the stove and saute minced garlic, minced ginger, and chopped onion in some sesame oil. If you’re cooking with meat, seafood, or mushroom, this would be the perfect time to toss them in. Add a teaspoon of soy sauce and gochujang chili paste before putting your chicken stock. Wait for it to boil before adding your chopped kimchi and firm tofu cubes, if that’s what you’re using.

Boil for about 2-3 minutes and season with salt, pepper, and red chili flakes if you want it to be more spicy. If you prefer to use soft tofu, now is the time to add it before topping it with raw egg and some freshly chopped green onions. Drizzle with a little bit more sesame oil and serve right away while the stew is still simmering. Best eaten with steamed white rice.

Another option is to add grated cheese into the mix to give it a more flavorful taste.

Kimchi Ramyun Noodle Soup

This recipe is basically a carbon copy of the kimchi stew, but instead of pairing it with rice, this already comes with carbohydrates in the form of ramyun noodles.

You don’t need a lot of ingredients for this dish since it uses ready-to-cook ramyun noodles, which you can easily buy in any supermarket nowadays. I prefer using the Nongshim brand Shin Ramyun Noodle Soup.

Like the kimchi stew, start this recipe by heating up your clay pot on the stove and sauteing minced garlic, minced ginger, and chopped onion in some sesame oil. I like adding chicken or beef to this, so I also saute the meat in along with the aromatic ingredients. Then I add water and the seasoning and dried vegetable packets that come with the ramyun pack.

Once it boils, add the noodles, and chopped kimchi. Cook for about 2 minutes and add soft tofu and/or raw egg and chopped green onionsbefore removing the pot from the heat. You may also add some cheese.

Can’t find shin ramyun at your local grocery store? You may also use any ready-to-cook noodle soup. I’ve tried using Lucky Me Chicken Na Chicken Mami once and it tasted just fine.

There are many more ways to cook and eat kimchi, but so far these are the recipes that I have personally tried and swear by. I hope you give one of these a try so you can also add something healthy to your diet.

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