Kimchi juice is a briny byproduct created during the fermentation process of kimchi. While most chefs prefer to use it as a spicy, tangy ingredient in fusion food recipes, you can also drink it straight up as a shot or use it to craft your own kimchi bloody mary cocktails. If you like kimchi juice, you can also tweak your favorite kimchi recipe to produce more brine. We’ll show you how!
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What do with kimchi juice?
It can be incorporated into a variety of savory dishes. A few tablespoons can truly transform rather bland, underseasoned dishes into a unique fusion food with an intricate taste profile. Here are some creative ideas on how to use leftover kimchi juice to craft some culinary delights:
- Use it as a base for Kimchi Jjigae or Kimchi Soondubu (two hearty Korean kimchi stews)
- Add a moderate amount to your Ramen or any other type of noodle soup or stew.
- Marinade your pan-fried tofu or tempeh with it.
- Substitute kimchi (which you may have run out of) itself in your kimchi fried rice with this brine and fresh veggies.
- Fry up some kimchi pancakes. Using none of the vegetables, but only the juice makes for much smoother pancakes!
- Add a few tablespoons to spice up your Mexican salsa.
- Make a kimchi drink (see below)
Can you drink it?
While most people prefer to use leftover kimchi brine in other Korean or fusion recipes, like spicy fried rice or in salad dressings, you can also drink it on its own. Kimchi shots are beginning to trend a probiotic niche product similar to kefir or kombucha. Like kefir, it is definitely an acquired taste, as the brine from kimchi is very salty, sour, and spicy at the same time. When taking a kimchi shot, dip your tongue in first to check if the kimchi drink is well fermented and doesn’t taste off. Additionally, avoid drinking kimchi juice if you can’t afford to have bad breath that day. If you have some spare tomato juice left, you can create your own kimchi bloody mary! An exotic, spicy fusion cocktail that you will never find in the coolest bars in town (…and for a good reason” burp*)
If drinking kimchi juice is not your cup of tea, you may want to use it in one of the ideas listed above instead of throwing away such a lovely, versatile ingredient!
Where to get extra kimchi juice?
With all these fancy use cases, your problem may start to shift from having too much to having too little. Luckily there are plenty of tricks you can apply to ensure a bountiful yield.
Lower the wilting time of your cabbage
If you fancy more juice, you should consider this when preparing your next batch of kimchi by reducing the wilting time of your cabbage. After salting your cabbage, turn it less than the recipe asks for and apply your kimchi paste sooner. This way, more water will remain in your cabbage, which will create much more kimchi juice later during fermentation.
Let your cabbage sit for longer
As fermentation progresses, your kimchi will produce more kimchi. Thus we recommend that you use older kimchi for cooking. Especially if you consume store-bought kimchi, you should consider letting it ferment for at least a few more days to get more juice and a more compressed, compact kimchi.
Use more watery veggies
If you add green cabbage, radishes or daikon radish to your traditional napa kimchi you will likely end up with more kimchi brine, as these veggies have higher water content.
Still not enough kimchi juice?
If you use the three aforementioned tips and still can’t get enough of kimchi juice, you can also blend up some plain kimchi to create a smooth paste without any big chunks of vegetables. While this works great for kimchi pancakes, it is probably not smooth enough to use in a kimchi bloody mary.
Can you buy additional kimchi juice?
An increasing amount of retail stores and online shops are beginning to offer this by-product as a separate product. You will likely find it in the refrigerated juice section in grocery stores and supermarkets, next to your other probiotic drinks, such as kombucha and kefir.