Kimchi juice is a tangy, spicy brine that’s a by-product of the kimchi fermentation process. It is packed with flavor, so tossing it out after you’ve finished the cabbage is wasteful. But what should you do with it instead? We’ve created the ultimate list of uses for leftover kimchi. These ideas will allow home cooks to transform any underseasoned dish into a delicious, flavor-packed meal.
What are the best uses for leftover kimchi juice?
Kimchi juice is a versatile liquid that can be used in a wide range of savory dishes. It is excellent for pickling vegetables or incorporating into condiments and dips. For something a little different, try using the juice in a Bloody Mary or drink it on its own.
1. Pickled veggies
A quick and easy way to pickle vegetables is to use kimchi juice. Any vegetables will work, but carrots, cucumbers, and cabbage are all great options. You could also toss in some peeled garlic cloves and pearl onions.
The first step is to sprinkle the chopped vegetables with a liberal dose of sea salt and let them sit for 2-3 hours, then rinse in water. This will draw out unwanted liquid and help your vegetables absorb the kimchi juice.
To make a pickle, add vegetables to the jar and seal the lid before refrigerating for one week. This should be sufficient time to allow everything to ferment.
Kimchi juice works insanely well in many types of sauce, adding extra depth of flavor. Mayonnaise, aioli, and ketchup will all benefit from it.
Salad dressings are excellent with the brine – you can use it to replace acidic ingredients like vinegar or lemon juice. You’ll also enhance the nutritional benefit of the dressing by adding gut-friendly probiotics.
If drinking the juice on its own sounds too ambitious, you may want to pour some into a cocktail. Drinks that add lemon juice are a good place to start experimenting. Why not try an Asian-inspired Bloody Mary that uses shochu, Japanese cucumber, and kimchi juice?
Other drinks to try: Whiskey Sour or Kamikaze.
Conjure up a unique-tasting dip next time you’re entertaining. The juice is perfect splashed into dips like hummus or guacamole.
For a different take on conventional salsa, start by finely chopping onions, bell pepper, chili, garlic, and napa cabbage. Combine the ingredients with kimchi brine and use it as a burrito filling or taco topping.
The leftover juice from kimchi also tastes great added to pico de gallo, a delicious Mexican salsa.
5. Drink it straight
For those who enjoy food challenges, you may want to just drink the leftovers. Kimchi shots have become a trendy, probiotic drink, like kombucha or kefir. It offers a sour and salty slap in the face, excellent as an early morning wakeup beverage.
Be sure to test a little juice to make sure it hasn’t gone off. Otherwise, you’ll get an unpleasant surprise!
6. Kimchi pancakes
Kimchi pancakes, also known as Kimchijeon or kimchi-buchimgae, are a popular Korean dish. A range of vegetables, meat, and kimchi are mixed into a flour batter before frying.
For a smoother pancake that’s no less tasty, leave out the meat, vegetables, and kimchi. Instead, just add kimchi juice for a simple, flavorsome pancake.
7. Fried rice
Make spicy fried rice by steaming or boiling rice until soft. Next, fry it with diced veggies; you can also add chicken, pork, prawns, or a plant-based protein such as tofu or tempeh.
Towards the end of cooking, add a decent splash of kimchi juice. It will add acidic, fiery flavor and vibrant color to the rice. To serve, top with a fried egg.
For some extra spicy flavor, the juice can also be drizzled over rice at the dinner table. Use it the same way you’d use other hot sauces like sriracha.
Tip: A Korean favorite is kimchi-bokkeum-bap, their own version of fried rice that includes kimchi. It’s still a fantastic dish if you only use the juice.
8. Chili beans
While the leftover juice from kimchi is a great match for Mexican cuisine, it’s especially good in chili beans. Most recipes are already spicy, and the juice enhances the existing ingredients well.
Make zingy marinades by replacing the vinegar or other acidic liquids with kimchi juice. It will effectively tenderize your favorite barbecue meat. You could also marinate vegetarian alternatives like tempeh or tofu.
Soondubu is a wildly popular Korean stew that combines vegetables and freshly curdled soft tofu with meat or seafood. As with many Korean meals, the stew comes with a raw egg that you crack into the bowl.
A common ingredient that gets added to the broth is gochujang. You could either leave it out and replace it with kimchi juice or use them both for a scorching hot meal.
Kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew) is also good with kimchi juice – it works best when the juice is getting close to expiry. Of course, you’ll be making your stew without the main component of kimchi, the fermented cabbage. You may want to include some fresh cabbage to compensate.
11. Pasta sauce
Add another layer of flavor to any tomato-based pasta sauce. While it’s fine to use the sauce in Italian dishes, it is perfect for stirring into Korean or Japanese noodles.
Practically any style of egg will pair well with kimchi juice. Try hard-boiling the eggs, removing the shells, and pickling them in the jar with the leftover brine.
Another eggy option is to make deviled eggs and mash some juice into the yolk mixture. These spicy eggs will taste great with a final sprinkle of paprika.
Some people love adding HP Sauce to their Sunday morning omelet. Kimchi juice is a tasty alternative that’s also a much healthier option without all that unwanted sugar.
Most types of soup will benefit from kimchi juice. Our favorite choice would be Mul Naengmyeon, a popular Korean cold noodle dish. Other recipes you could adjust include borscht, ramen, or minestrone.
Some recipes call for cultured dairy such as yogurt to be added to soups. For a flavorsome plant-based option, use kimchi juice instead.
Shakshuka is a wonderful Maghrebi dish that poaches eggs in tomatoes, peppers, onion, and a range of spices. Adding kimchi brine brings more flavor to the table and won’t disappoint.
Use kimchi juice to season practically any meat of your choice. Add it to season burger patties, breakfast sausage, meatloaf, or pies. It’s also perfectly used as a wet rub on grilling meats.
Use kimchi juice in braising sauces, combined with mirin, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, and gochujang. It is excellent for flavoring pork belly.
16. Homemade Kimchi
If you enjoy DIY food projects, then ferment your own kimchi. It’s an easy food to make that’s full of good probiotics. While kimchi doesn’t require leftover brine as part of the recipe, it’ll speed up fermentation. It is also useful for speeding up the production of sauerkraut.
There are plenty of ways to cook amazing food with leftover kimchi juice. Soups, sauces, and marinades are a good starting point. But virtually any savory recipe that benefits from acidic, spicy flavor will work.
If you’re feeling a little daring, try mixing up a cocktail using the juice or drink it straight up.
A useful way to decide if recipes are suitable for kimchi juice is to think about other hot and spicy sauces like sambal oelek, sriracha, or ketjap manis. If you’d use one of them, you can probably add kimchi juice instead.