If you’re the type of person who has a kit on hand so you can pickle everything from green beans to eggplant to figs, then you’re likely familiar with the unique tangy and briny flavor that fermented foods can add to your meals. Two fermented foods—sauerkraut and kimchi—are especially good additions to your rotation that have plenty in common (though some easy to spot differences, too).
If you’ve gone to a ballpark before, you’ve likely come across sauerkraut, chopped cabbage that has been fermented and has a very specific sour flavor. (It literally means “sour cabbage” in German.) But it’s not just for hot dogs—sauerkraut is also a prominent side dish in Eastern European cuisine.
The same process used to make sauerkraut—lactic acid fermentation—is also used to make kimchi, a dish made from fermented vegetables. In both instances, bacteria, which ferments the sugars in the vegetable, is a good thing—preserving it for long stretches and giving it its unique flavor. Despite their similarities, kimchi is distinct from sauerkraut in some key ways. The Korean dish typically contains Korean radishes in addition to cabbage, as well as a number of seasonings including scallions, ginger, garlic, and fish sauce.
Though the two foods come from different parts of the globe and have identifying characteristics of their own, they both provide some health benefits that you’ll want to take advantage of. Fermented foods have been found to help improve gut health, which can improve your overall wellbeing.
Ready to give sauerkraut and kimchi a place at your table? Look ahead for some recipes.
Chefs of all experience levels can give leftover kimchi a second life with this rice dish. The kimchi adds a bit of heat to this hearty one-pan meal. Get our Kimchi and Shrimp Fried Rice recipe.
You might not immediately put the words “sauerkraut” and “soup” together but sometimes the most unexpected combinations are the most delicious. With celery, carrots, and chicken broth in the mix, this spin on chicken soup is exactly the comfort food you’ve been craving. Get the recipe.
Toss that sad fast food burger and make your own instead. This recipe has a salty, tangy flavor far tastier than any drive-thru offering. Get our Kimchi Chicken Burger recipe.
Want to try your hand at making your own kimchi at home? You’ll need the main ingredients, some basic kitchen equipment like a food processor, and a whole lot of patience (the food takes a couple of days to ferment). Ready to give it a go? Here’s a step by step guide.
It’s time to pull the slow cooker out of the back of your kitchen cabinet and dust it off for this recipe. This set-it-and-forget-it recipe is just the thing to satisfy beer aficionados and meat lovers alike. Get the recipe.
Transform any leftovers in your refrigerator into a completely new meal with this dish. It might not be exactly how your grandma used to make it, but trust us, this will be a dish you’ll want to pass down to the next generation. Get the recipe.
This noodle-centric dish is what you need to liven up your typical pasta night. Feature it as a side dish or make it the main attraction with the addition of some kielbasa. Get the recipe.
Header images courtesy of Shutterstock and Chowhound.