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I bought a jar of Surasang “Kimchi Base” assuming that I could use it to make kimchi. The directions on the bottle, however, seem to indicate using it like a salad dressing—without any fermentation (the third recipe in the image below). Similarly, when I've searched online, people very rarely suggest making kimchi with kimchi base, and most recipes calling for kimchi base use it in some other fashion.

So the weight of the evidence is against my trying to make kimchi with this, but I wanted to see if anyone had tried and had success.

The back of the bottle of Kimchi Base

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  • Hard to say, what is this thing made of? What are the ingredients? Where it says "INGREDIENTS", that's the ingredients of the sauce or a suggested recipe using the sauce + cabbage and onion?
    – Luciano
    Mar 1, 2022 at 14:46
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    The can lists 200g Nappa cabbage, 30g onion and 60g sauce. Reads like a convenience product?
    – Stephie
    Mar 1, 2022 at 15:48
  • Water, anchovy paste, glucose, beet sugar, red pepper, mango puree, other kind of pepper pepper, onion, garlic, salt, ginger, and chemicals. (I also initially interpreted the ingredients list, but that's just for the suggested “recipes”.)
    – adam.baker
    Mar 1, 2022 at 16:32

2 Answers 2

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Kimchi is a lactofermented food, meaning that the sour taste is due to lactic acid bacteria being allowed to digest sugars present in the vegetables and seasoning paste.

Kimchi, once fermented, is used to flavor all kinds of dishes: soups, stews, fried rice, dumplings, cold noodles... Etc. So while I'm not 100% certain, I think what you purchased is a pasteurized Kimchi product intended to give a dish that Kimchi element without have to source good Kimchi or make it yourself. Which is perfectly reasonable since Kimchi requires a good deal of time and prep, so it's only really cost-effective to make or buy it in bulk.

So, personally, I'd taste that jar and use it to make something like bibimguksu (that way you can keep sauce in the fridge and it won't start fermenting.), a pizza sauce, or otherwise use it as a condiment.

When you make kimchi, you make the sauce yourself specifically so that it won't be pasteurized and will ferment. It's a highly variable food, with all kinds of components (some are even made with vinegar), but the sauce is never entirely cooked if it is meant to ferment.

So... Can you pour that jar into a big bowl of salted, rinsed, and drained Napa cabbage and make kimchi? Maybe. There should be enough lactobacilli present on the cabbage to Kickstart the fermentation. That said, that's not what your jar of sauce was meant for, so it might be pretty subpar even if it works.

Unfortunately, making kimchi at home is quite the endeavor, if well worth the effort in my opinion. I'd recommend checking multiple recipes to get a sense of scale and figure out what kind you want to make, understanding that there really aren't many shortcuts. Maangchi is famous on YouTube for her Korean cooking, and has lots of kimchi recipe videos that might be helpful to look through.

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Kimchi is flavoured sauerkraut. Basically pickled cabbage with a bit of Korean chilli flakes and some pieces of tofu added. You got the prepare sauce. If you were to pickle some cabbage and add that you would have kimchi.

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