This flavorful, fermented side dish should be a pantry staple.

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Jar of kimchi

There are plenty of powerful pantry staples, but one of the most flavor-packed is kimchi. A traditional Korean dish, kimchi is made with fermented vegetables, such as cabbage, radishes, and scallions, and is served as a side dish or garnish. Kimchi is fermented in a similar way that cabbage is for sauerkraut or cucumbers are for pickles. It contains lactobacillus, a lactic acid bacteria that is one of the most common types of probiotics, which makes it one of the healthiest dishes for detoxifying. This bacteria forms as the kimchi ferments and can help aid digestion.

Because kimchi is fermented, it can last in the refrigerator for at least three to four months; in fact, the longer the better, as it develops even more flavor as it ferments. Kimchi can be eaten on its own, but it's usually incorporated into stir-fries, fried rice, noodle bowls, and pancakes. Below we're sharing our favorite recipes featuring this sour side, plus how to make kimchi.

How Is Kimchi Made?

To make kimchi at home, Napa cabbage is sliced and brined with salt, which helps to kill harmful bacteria (while preserving the good, gut-cleansing bacteria) and concentrate the flavor. Then a spice paste is made with lots of garlic, fresh ginger, sugar, fish sauce, and gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes). The cabbage, vegetables such as radishes and onions, and the spice paste are mixed together and packed into a jar to ferment for about a week.

Kimchi Pancake with Shrimp

These traditional savory pancakes are a staple in Korean cuisine. Chopped kimchi is folded into the batter along with scallions and shrimp and then ladled into a pan to cook until crisp. A flavorful, Asian-inspired dipping sauce made with soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and gochugaru is the perfect accompaniment.

Kimchi Fried Rice

One of the reasons we love fried rice is that it's a blank canvas for whatever leftover or seasonal ingredients are on hand. This super-speedy recipe calls for pre-cooked rice, which gets rich, umami flavor from kimchi, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings

Here, kimchi is served on the side of spicy chicken wings that have been coated in a combination of soy sauce, sriracha, garlic, and ginger. The pairing of rich, savory chicken wings with the sour-spicy kimchi is spot on.

Paulbimbop

Inspired by Korean bibimbap—a rice dish that's usually topped with ground beef, vegetables, and a fried egg—this one-pot meal is flavorful and delicious. Kimchi is served on the side; the tang and texture are a fantastic contrast to the rich sirloin, savory fish and soy sauces, and fresh ginger.

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