7 Foolproof ways to use up leftover kimchi in your fridge
Craving Korean food after all those K-dramas? Us, too! The easiest way to curb those tastebuds and use up leftover ingredients in your pantry is to put that weeks-old jar of aged kimchi to good use.
Whether eaten on its own with a steaming bowl of fluffy rice or served hot and hearty in a flavourful stew, the fermented condiment adds depths of spice and flavour in versatile ways while promoting good gut bacteria in all its low-fat, high-fibre glory. A staple in many households and an integral ingredient in Korean cuisine, the tangy, tart spice of kimchi is a delicious addition to any dish.
We've scoured the web and found several surefire ways to cook up a kimchi storm, alongside variations to test out and try now that we're all better home cooks (thanks, lockdown). All of these recipes are super versatile, easy to make and experiment with, according to whatever else is left in your kitchen or what you prefer.
But wait, how long can you keep kimchi before it goes bad?
According to Healthline, if kept at room temperature, it lasts for a week after opening but once refrigerated, kimchi is still good to go for about three to six months while it continues to ferment, leading to a sourer taste and mushier texture.
So what are you waiting for? Do your tummy and fridge a favour—scroll through and get cooking!
Kimchi Fried Rice
Cooking time: ~15 mins
This popular, humble staple is easy to whip up at home and a great way to use up other ingredients leftover in your kitchen. Alongside our star ingredient, the basic foundations of this dish involve using rice, sesame oil, garlic and onion. Find the basic recipe here.
- You can serve it up the classic way with a sunny-side up over the top or add in smoky bacon bits, sliced carrots and shiitake mushrooms as some tried-and-tested toppings—it's all up to you to add and experiment however you like!
- Drizzle over soy sauce for more salt or gochujang sauce for more spice if you’re short of kimchi brine (that leftover juice in your kimchi jar).
- If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, try this recipe for a slightly nostalgic, Americanised take with spam, or go green with this veggie version.
Cooking time: ~40 mins
Also know as kimchi-jjigae, this dish is a quintessential comfort food in Korean cuisine. The traditional version calls for chock full of fatty pork meat, tofu and veggies to make it super hearty but it can also be made with any type of protein or simply just with tofu. Try out the classic version with pork belly.
- The premise is simple: lightly stir fry the basic ingredients such as onion, garlic, pork and spices until soft and fragrant before pouring in stock or water, kimchi and tofu to simmer over time.
- Bound to make you break a sweat, the soup is often seen in K-dramas (topped with canned salmon in this heartthumping scene) paired with banchan dishes (veggie side dishes) and a bowl of rice or some ramen.
- For days when you need a healthy pick-me-up, try out this immune-boosting option that's also suitable for vegetarians.
Cooking time: ~10 mins
Another super-easy and versatile dish is the kimchi pancake, or kimchi jeon, a savoury delight that is simultaneously chewy, crunchy, salty and spicy in one go.
All you really need to do is to mix an egg, soy sauce, all-purpose flour and scallions with your leftover kimchi to make up the batter before lightly pan-frying it until golden brown—basic recipe here.
- The trick is to make sure the batter is thick enough to hold together kimchi and any other ingredients if you'd like to add more.
- Try out this vegan option, comprising only four ingredients; or go flourless with this cheese-stuffed mung beans alternative.
Cooking time: ~10-15 mins
Who knew kimchi could be used to create chip dips? This fusion version swerves away from traditional Korean cuisine to make use of aged kimchi in new, alternative ways that's perfect to pair with raw veggies, tortilla chips or salted pretzel crisps. It may sound a bit weird at first, but you'll never know if you never try. Start off with this kimchi-miso take that oddly tastes exactly like Doritos.
- Surprisingly, kimchi pairs off well with cream cheese to serve up a little bit of umami and spice. Try this creamy concoction that's slightly reminiscent of the '80s party-classic shrimp dip.
- You can also try out this bolder version that involves dehydrating the kimchi in your oven before grinding it into powder and mixing it with sour cream, mayonnaise and scallion for a flavourful relish.
- A healthier vegan alternative would be this dairy-free recipe made of raw cashews for added minerals and healthy fats.
Cold Kimchi Noodles
Cooking time: ~20 mins
This refreshing summer dish is perfect to beat the heat with and best made with ripened kimchi as fresh ones won't bring out the desired depth of flavour required for its spicy, tangy taste. The best part of this dish, asides from eating it, is when you get your hands dirty by mixing the sauce, kimchi and noodles in a large bowl right before serving.
- Usually made with buckwheat noodles or somyeon (drain-rinsed in cold water until no longer hot), you can also substitute with soba or udon for a different take. The classic version is served with nothing more than a few strips of raw cucumber and a boiled egg.
- Another trick for this dish is to make the sauce in advance and letting it mature in the fridge for two to three hours prior in the fridge in order to bring out that spicy, sweet and tart flavour that makes it so addicting. You can also try switching out gochujang sauce for Sriracha sauce if you don't have any at home.
- Turn it into a salad by slicing crunchy veggies to add texture, or try out this vinegary version topped with crushed ice for maximum chill while you take on the heat.
Cooking time: ~15-30 mins
Perhaps the easiest way to use up your aged kimchi is to cook in a pan over medium heat to balance out its strong, pungent taste with some chopped garlic and scallions. It's good enough on its own to go with rice, but you can also turn it into a pork belly stir-fry for a yummy protein-filled lunch or dinner.
- Sprinkle in some sugar to dilute the sourness if it's still too sour, and add in sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil for more flavour.
- Alternatively, shake up your breakfast options by mixing it into silky scrambled eggs on toast, or go for a vegan tofu interpretation full of kale.
Kimchi Grilled Cheese
Cooking time: ~15 mins
Cheese lovers, we've got you covered. For some reason, melty cheese and spicy heat go hand in hand, especially when put between bread that’s toasted to golden perfection. The tangy taste of the kimchi pairs off well with the saltiness of grated cheddar or Monterey Jack but if you prefer to let the spice shine, opt for some mild mozzarella instead.
- The key to a good grilled cheese is patience: starting with a cold pan rather than preheating it allows for the heat to be evenly disturbed as the cheese gently meals and bread develops ideal crunch and colour.
- While most recipes prefer butter to get the bread crispy golden, mayonnaise is also a good way to ensure your bread doesn’t burn due to the ingredient’s higher smoke point.
- For the bread, go for tight crumb types like sandwich slices or rustic sourdough to ensure that the cheese doesn’t spill out onto the pan.
- If you have roasted veggies or grilled meat leftover in your fridge, you can chop it all up and pack it in too.
- Want to elevate your grilled cheese? Opt for this tasty bacon-wrapped version or go for this sesame garlic butter rendition that's bound to leave you wanting more.