Unique and decadent kimchi is hard to replace due to its nature and taste. But still, there are a few options that you could resort to. So, here are the best kimchi substitutes you can use for a tasty stand-in.
Prime alternatives for kimchi include:
- Homemade kimchi
- Pickled vegetables
- Pickled jalapenos
- Miso paste
- Fermented drinks
- Malay pickle
Continue reading this article if you need accurate details on how to use these replacements when you don’t have the original ingredient.
7 Best Kimchi Substitutes
Spicy, tangy, and flavor-loaded kimchi is one of the best foods in the world, embraced by millions of people even beyond Korea. It is typically made with vegetables, fermented, and seasoned with a variety of spices, sauces, and other flavorings.
One can think there’s actually nothing that could be compared to kimchi, which is quite true. But still, if you don’t like its taste or can’t find it around your area, we have come up with seven of the best alternatives that can give a close flavor replication.
This is one of the best options to have when you don’t have kimchi in hand. Sauerkraut is a traditional German dish, which is also the country’s national dish. It is made with finely shredded raw, fermented cabbage, which can be very close to the taste of our topic leader. This substitute can also be used as a side dish and is essentially the same dish but from a different cuisine.
02- Homemade Kimchi
Homemade or DIY kimchi is the best option if you need to have the exact taste and texture. There are many types of kimchi in Korea, but the most basic variety is made with napa cabbage. Making kimchi on your own will also save you a ton of money and will lend you a great opportunity to experiment with vegetables and seasonings.
So, to help you with a simple recipe, we have shared an easy step-by-step guide here. You can check it out by clicking on this link!
03- Pickled Vegetables
Pickled vegetables are another great option when you need to have something similar to kimchi. In fact, since there are many types of pickled vegetables, you can choose whatever you like! Pickled beets, cucumbers, gherkins, and onions- anything goes well instead of kimchi.
While veggies like beet will offer a more sweet flavor than spicy, cucumbers or gherkins will give a more flavor approximation. It is important to pick vegetables preserved in a vinegar-based pickling solution to have a similar flavor effect.
However, you should be tricky enough to choose the suitable vegetable that goes with the dish you intend to make. Pickled vegetables are relatively easy to find and affordable. So, you could make a hassle-free replacement while having a more crunchy, tangy, spicy, and sometimes slightly more sweet taste than that of the original ingredient.
04- Pickled Jalapenos
Nothing could be better than pickled jalapenos if you expect the fermented effect along with the hotness of kimchi from a substitute. Most other pickled vegetables might not offer the desired heat, but if heat is one of the elements you prefer, this option can be your best bet.
Pickled jalapenos are pretty affordable and readily available. They can be great as a side dish, to be incorporated into dips and sauces instead of kimchi, and can even be used to top barbequed meat. However, this substitute could lack the umami kick of kimchi but will serve with an equal sourness and hotness.
05- Miso Paste
Miso paste is the famous Japanese soybean paste they traditionally use for seasoning purposes. You must be really thinking about how a paste could work in place of something crunchy like kimchi. That being said, it is important to remember that miso paste will only work in terms of flavor but not regarding volume, appearance, or texture.
This alternative will fulfill the salty, tart, savory and sweet elements you usually get in kimchi, while you could also find spicy versions of miso paste. Nevertheless, it would be best to use miso paste as an ingredient sub for our topic leader, particularly after the fermented, salty taste.
06- Fermented Drinks
Fermented drinks can help you if you don’t have any of the options mentioned at the top of our list but still want to have a fermented flavor in your dishes that are equal to kimchi. Kombucha and kefir are the best possible fermented drinks that you can count on.
They do not contain the distinctive umami taste but will give a close fermented taste with a hint of highlighted sweetness. Since they are liquids, we recommend you use this option only with liquid-based, juicy recipes that call for a more dense flavor. And especially, they will go better with the recipes like sauces, salad dressings, and vinaigrettes that you originally used the juice of kimchi.
07- Malay Pickle
Malay pickle is a popular condiment in Asian countries like Sri Lanka and India, made with vegetables like shallots, carrots, dates, and peppers. These vegetables are usually pickled using various ingredients like vinegar, mustard powder, chile powder, etc.
This will not be the perfect option to use instead of kimchi since it does not have that strong fermented element. But still, you can use it as a side dish or with rice and meat since it lends a similar crunchiness, along with savory, umami, tangy, and sweet notes. So, those who can’t find kimchi in southeast Asian countries can count on Malay pickle as a similar option.
On The Bottom Line…
We hope our article finally covered everything you need to know about the best possible substitutes for kimchi! While sauerkraut, homemade kimchi, pickled vegetables, and pickled jalapenos will give you a similar flavor and texture, miso paste and fermented drinks like kombucha and kefir will help with a comparable fermented flavor.
So, what is your best pick to use instead of kimchi? Let us know in the comment section below!