Make your fave dishes taste even better with the crunchy, salty goodness of kimchi.
Kylie Walker

16 May 2018 - 4:28 PM  UPDATED 15 Nov 2018 - 9:52 AM

Like fried chicken? You absolutely have to try fried chicken with kimchi mayo. (Actually, even if you don’t like fried chicken, you should make the mayo!) Like fried rice? Kimchi will turn it into a mid-week meal packed with flavour (and ready in only 20 minutes). Like a cheese toastie? How about stuffing some fiery kimchi in there before you set it to get all melty and golden?

You get where we’re going with this, don’t you?

This spicy pickle made of crunchy, salty fermented vegetables (most commonly cabbage or radish, but also made with everything from carrot to cucumber) is one of Korea’s great gifts to the world. But just as there are hundreds of different types of this fermented side there are many ways to use it in your favourite dishes – not just beside them. And remember, while some kimchis are fiery, others are milder, so hunt around for one that suits your spot on the hot-o-meter (or make your own – readyon for links to a multitude of DIY recipes, including a quick version).

Tart up a toastie

The crunchy, fiery nature of kimchi works brilliantly with the richness of gooey melted cheese – try it next time you’re firing up the jaffle maker or putting together a toasted cheese sambo. Or give it a go in these kimchi quesadillas – the cheese oozes out as these beauties bake and caramalises the edges of the quesadillas so you get that brilliant cooked cheese crunch when you bite in. 

Eggs love kimchi

Almost any egg dish can be done with a kimchi twist.

Magic mayo

Trust us when we say that the simple action of stirring kimchi into Kewpie mayonnaise is like waving a magic wand. Give it a go in Dan Hong’s Korean fried chicken-inspired dish of fried baby chicken with kimchi mayonnaise

You can also create instant flavour bang by stirring chopped or blended kim chi, or kim chi juice, into mashed potato, yoghurt and salad dressings.

Weeknight rice

“If you’re like me and always keep a tub of kimchi in the fridge, this is one of those weeknight dishes that’s perfect when there isn’t much else around,” says Adam Liaw of his kimchi fried rice. “You’d be surprised how tasty and satisfying a bowl of this economical fried rice can be.”

Korean comfort food

Gary Mehigan, who signs up for a lesson in making kimchi when he visits Korea in Far Flung (check the TV Guide to see when the series is next on air), is now a big fan of kimchi’s potential for lifting cheese toasties and fried rice – and plenty more.

“At home I use it in gimbap, different types of ramen soups, fried rice and stir-fried noodles of various kinds. It’s also brilliant on a burger or grilled in an oozy cheese toastie!” he tells us.

He also uses it in his recipe for kimchi jjigae, a comforting Korean stew.  

Kimchi also lifts a combination of what blogger Christine C calls “all things plain but wonderful” – including instant ramen, salty Spam and rice cakes – in her Korean army stew (budae jjigae)

Don’t forget the dumplings…

Kimchi makes an excellent potsticker too – these Korean mandu are filled with kimchi, beef and pork mince, spring onion and ginger.

Kimchi mandu.

And if you want to DIY, here’s how

Try your hand at a traditional cabbage kimchi, or this easy version; or branch out into radish kimchi (gak dugi); carrot kimchi (tanggun); or cucumber kimchi (oi so-bae-gi).

Cabbage kimchi

Keep on kimchi-ing
Korean radish kimchi (gak dugi)

This recipe takes 2 to 3 days to ferment but the first clean sharp crunch of this kimchi will convince you that your hard work is worthwhile.

Army base stew (budae jjigae)

They say necessity is the mother of invention and this stew is a sterling example of that sentiment. Budae jjigae (army base stew) was created in Uijeongbu, an hour north of Seoul, soon after the Korean War when food scarcity led starving Koreans to concoct a meal using food that was discarded or handed out at US military bases.

Kimchi pancake (kimchi jeon)

This is a great use of leftover kimchi. As with most Korean recipes, you can tweak it to your own tastes with the addition of other vegetables, meat or seafood. You can use the ready-made Korean pancake batter (bu-chim-ga-ru) from Korean groceries.

Mung bean pancakes (nok-doo jeom or nokdu jeon)

This recipe from Luke Nguyen is a Korean New Year family favourite. The delicious pan-fried savoury pancakes are made from ground mung beans and topped with chopped vegetables and meat. Serve them as part of a shared meal.