The Ultimate Kimchi Countdown

I'm a kimchi fiend. I love to eat it as a main dish with some rice, green onions, sesame seeds, and soy sauce. I also frequently use it in soups with medium-wide rice noodles, veggies, and tofu. The key to a successful soup is to put the kimchi in the bowl, then pour the broth over it. I don't cook the kimchi in the pot! This method retains a lot of the flavor and delicate crunch and I also assume it keeps more of the probiotic benefits.

When shopping for kimchi, read the ingredients! Make sure there is no fish sauce, which is a traditional ingredient present in most kimchi. Or, if you're daring, make your own. Check out this video by one of my favorite Youtube chefs, Maangchi, making her vegetarian kimchi.

Below I've ranked the brands I have bought, and most are labelled vegan, making your life easy!

1. Banyan Foods--It's made in Houston and only available in some parts of Texas. This is the ultimate kimchi...when you open it, it bubbles and fizzes. It is very tangy and brings all of the fermented flavor I want in a kimchi. It has a good amount of spiciness without being too much. A bonus is it's some of the cheapest, at less than $5 per jar.

2. Mother In Law's--MIL's has two vegan kimchis, a white kimchi and this spicy one with lots of gochujang (Koran red pepper flakes). I think the taste of MIL's is very similar to Banyan foods...and that's a great thing. Bonus for me is that it's available nationwide, which is critical since I no longer live in Texas! However, it's more expensive...prepare to pay between $8 and $10 per jar. I've seen this all over, but your best bet is Whole Foods.

Note that #1 and #2 are by far my favorites because I love a tangy kimchi with an odor that knocks me off my feet...but here's the rest of the list!

3. Nasoya--I was excited to see nasoya, a brand I've bought for a long time for their tofu, hit the shelves with vegan kimchi. In addition to the mild shown here, they also have spicy, radish kimchi, and white kimchi. The flavor packs a punch, although it isn't it's not as tangy. This is the only kimchi I've bought in plastic packaging, which isn't ideal for the planet, but I also don't think it preserves it well. One batch I bought was off and I tossed it.

4. Mama O's Vegan Kimchi--This Brooklyn-made kimchi has areally good flavor with some (but not a lot) tang. This was being discontinued at my Whole  Foods, so I grabbed it for a sweet discounted price of $5--but I bet it sells for much more.

5. Seoul Kimchi--This vegan kimchi is available at Target. It's standard, nothing to write home about.

6. Wildbrine--This kimchi has so much flavor, but is notably too salty for my taste. Maybe this is due to the "sea vegetable" listed on the ingredients--I'm not sure which one it is, but I don't care for kombu or kelp. If you do, I think you'll love it.  Also, the package isn't labelled vegan anywhere, but the website verifies that it is safe for vegans. 

7. King's Kimchi--I had this a while ago, but the taste was just ok for me. Not tangy enough (I'm sensing a theme). 

8. Sunja's--This is made in Vermont by a company owned by a woman who is a Seoul native. I've only had white kimchi by this brand, so it's not an apples to apples comparison to the others on the list (although, I've had Mother In Law's white kimchi and it was tangy and excellent). I did not care for the flavor profile of the white kimchi--I think due to the sweet pepper. It's not bad, but just not want I'm looking for in kimchi, especially because I use it so often as a base for a soup.