World's Healthiest Foods: Kimchi (Korea)

Loaded with key vitamins, kimchi contains healthy bacteria that aids digestion.

Koreans eat so much of this super-spicy condiment (40 pounds of it per person each year) that natives say “kimchi” instead of “cheese” when getting their pictures taken. The reddish fermented cabbage (and sometimes radish) dish—made with a mix of garlic, salt, vinegar, chile peppers, and other spices—is served at every meal, either alone or mixed with rice or noodles. And it’s part of a high-fiber, low-fat diet that has kept obesity at bay in Korea. Kimchi also is used in everything from soups to pancakes, and as a topping on pizza and burgers.

Why to try it: Kimchi (or kimchee) is loaded with vitamins A, B, and C, but its biggest benefit may be in its “healthy bacteria” called lactobacilli, found in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt. This good bacteria helps with digestion, plus it seems to help stop and even prevent yeast infections, according to a recent study. And more good news: Some studies show fermented cabbage has compounds that may prevent the growth of cancer.

What to do with it: There’s no need to make your own; just pick it up in the refrigerated section of your grocery store or an Asian market for around $4 per 32-ounce jar (Sunja’s is one popular brand). You can wake up your morning by scrambling eggs with kimchi, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms. Use it as a wrap filling or to top a baked potato. Or try Spicy Beef and Kimchi Stew, which won our test kitchen’s top rating.

Susan Feliciano - Jun 25, 2012
Could you please post the Spicy Beef and Kimchi Stew recipe? I've never tried Kimchi, and none of the other suggestions really appeals to me.
Is it sour like sauerkraut?
J. White Harris - Jun 25, 2012
Susan, I don't have a copy of that recipe but I think you could get similar results by adding enough kimchi to any beef stew recipe.

Kimchi is made with lots of garlic and hot pepper flakes and does not taste like sauerkraut.
The ingredients on a kimchi jar I just finished are as follows: Nappa Cabbage, Garlic, Green Onion, Hot Pepper, Sugar, Salt, Paprika, and Ginger. GLUTEN FREE. It is usually labeled HOT, SPICY, or MILD.

Kimchi is usually eaten as a cold side dish with whatever else you are eating. I don't eat it every meal but I eat it most every day.
Susan Feliciano - Jun 25, 2012
I found a recipe online - looks good:

Spicy Beef and Kimchi Stew

Mark Bitman, The Best Recipes in the World, Health MARCH 2006

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup stew mixture and 1/2 cup rice)

Prep: 15 minutes; Cook: 1 hour, 12 minutes. This recipe is high in sodium (due to the soy sauce and the kimchi), so if high blood pressure is a concern for you, omit the soy sauce, which will bring the sodium down about 200 milligrams.

• 1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast or beef tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
• 2 large garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
• 1 tablespoon peeled minced fresh ginger
• 3/4 cup water
• 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 cups chopped jarred kimchi
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish
• 2 tablespoons chopped scallions for garnish
• 3 cups cooked rice
1. Turn the heat to high under a large skillet that can later be covered. Add the beef cubes a few at a time and brown well, adjusting the heat so the meat browns but does not burn and turning beef to brown on all sides; this will take about 10 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate when it is done, and turn the heat to low.
2. Add garlic and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic colors, about 2 minutes. Add the water, then the soy sauce and either sugar or mirin. Add the meat and bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer.
3. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers steadily but not violently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, 50 minutes, depending on the cut you used (tenderloin cooks much faster than chuck). Add the kimchi, and cook 10 minutes or until heated through. (You can prepare the dish several hours in advance up to this point. Cover and set aside until you're ready to eat, then reheat; or cover and refrigerate overnight before reheating.)
4. Uncover, then taste and adjust seasoning. Stir in sesame oil, sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions, and serve immediately over cooked rice.
Melanie B - Jun 28, 2012
I ~think~ GrandpaSkip has a recipe posted for kimchi. It is really good. When I lived in Indiana, there was a Korean restaurant that served it and they also had a kimchi soup that was basically kimchi in a hot beef broth. YUM! Kimchi is normally served cold.
Deanne Corona - Jun 30, 2012
My bestfriend was from Korea and I couldn't wait until we sat down for dinner, I loved putting our two cultures together. I am Mexican American. Like I said she was from Korea We loved to eat. Tacos And Kimchi was always at out tables when we got together. And still are.
George Levinthal - Jun 1, 2016
I made a quick kim-chi to go with the short-rib burger recipe I just posted. Not as potent as longer fermented kim-chi, but it's pack with a lot of flavor from the garlic, ginger and Korean Chili flakes. And it only took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
J. White Harris - Jun 1, 2016
I like most any kimchee but I usually enjoy the fresher kimchee the best.
George Levinthal - Jun 1, 2016
J White:

Here's the link to my burger recipe with the Kim-Chi I made. It's made to be used fairly soon after it's prepared, but it will hold well in the fridge for a few days. It probably increases in flavor as it sits. Give it a try.