Does Kimchi Have Soy Sauce? Everything You Need To Know

Kimchi, the spicy and tangy Korean staple dish, has been gaining popularity worldwide for its unique flavor and health benefits.

But for those with dietary restrictions or preferences, the question arises: does kimchi have soy sauce?

While traditional kimchi recipes do include soy sauce, there are variations that use alternative ingredients to make it vegan or gluten-free.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of kimchi and their ingredients, as well as provide a recipe for a delicious vegan kimchi that doesn’t use soy sauce.

So whether you’re a kimchi lover or just curious about this fermented delicacy, keep reading to learn more!

Does Kimchi Have Soy Sauce?

Yes, traditional kimchi recipes do include soy sauce as one of the ingredients. Soy sauce is used to add depth and savoriness to the dish. However, there are variations of kimchi that use alternative ingredients to make it vegan or gluten-free.

For those who are allergic to soy or prefer not to consume it, there are kimchi recipes that use miso paste or vegan fish sauce instead. These substitutes can provide a similar umami flavor without the use of soy.

It’s important to note that not all kimchi recipes include soy sauce. Some recipes rely solely on the natural fermentation process and don’t require any additional flavorings.

What Is Kimchi And Why Is It Popular?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish made by fermenting vegetables, most commonly cabbage, with a mixture of salt, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. The fermentation process creates a unique and complex flavor that is both spicy and sour. Kimchi has been a staple in Korean cuisine for centuries and has gained popularity around the world in recent years.

There are over 180 varieties of kimchi, each with its own unique blend of ingredients and flavors. Some recipes use only cabbage, while others include radishes, scallions, or other vegetables. The length of fermentation also affects the taste and texture of the final product.

Kimchi is versatile and can be served at any mealtime, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack. It can be eaten on its own or used as an ingredient in other dishes such as soups and stews.

In addition to its delicious taste, kimchi is also known for its health benefits. The fermentation process creates probiotics that can aid in digestion and boost the immune system. Kimchi is also low in calories and high in fiber, making it a healthy addition to any diet.

The Ingredients In Traditional Kimchi

Traditional Korean kimchi recipes typically include a variety of ingredients to create the signature flavor of the dish. These ingredients often include napa cabbage, garlic, ginger, onion, Korean chili flakes (gochugaru), fish sauce, and salted shrimp. In addition to these ingredients, soy sauce is also commonly used to add depth and savoriness to the dish.

Another key ingredient in traditional kimchi is glutinous rice flour, which is used to make a paste that serves as the base of the kimchi sauce. This paste helps to stretch the sauce so it covers more cabbage. However, some recipes may use alternative ingredients like grated potato instead of glutinous rice flour.

While traditional kimchi recipes do call for fish sauce and salted shrimp, there are variations of kimchi that use alternative ingredients to make it vegan or gluten-free. For example, vegan kimchi recipes may use miso paste or vegan fish sauce instead of traditional fish sauce and salted shrimp.

Vegan And Gluten-Free Kimchi Variations

For those who follow a vegan or gluten-free diet, there are several variations of kimchi that can be enjoyed without compromising on taste or nutrition. Here are some ideas:

1. Mushroom and Seaweed Kimchi: As mentioned above, some kimchi recipes use mushroom and seaweed to replace the umami flavor of soy sauce or fish sauce. This vegan version is easy to make and has a rich, savory taste.

2. Cucumber Kimchi: This variation uses Persian cucumbers instead of cabbage and is seasoned with gluten-free tamari, sugar, gochugaru, ginger, garlic, carrots, yellow onion, green onion, and kosher salt. It’s a great option for those who prefer a milder taste.

3. Radish Kimchi: Radishes can be used as a substitute for cabbage in kimchi recipes. This version is seasoned with gochugaru, garlic, ginger, green onion, and salt. It’s crunchy, spicy, and perfect for adding to salads or sandwiches.

4. Carrot Kimchi: This variation uses grated carrots instead of cabbage and is seasoned with gochugaru, garlic, ginger, green onion, and salt. It’s sweet, tangy, and adds a pop of color to any dish.

5. Beetroot Kimchi: This colorful variation uses grated beets instead of cabbage and is seasoned with gochugaru, garlic, ginger, green onion, and salt. It’s earthy, slightly sweet, and packed with nutrients.

These vegan and gluten-free kimchi variations are just a few examples of how this traditional Korean dish can be adapted to suit different dietary needs. Experiment with different vegetables and seasonings to find your own unique flavor combination!

A Recipe For Vegan Kimchi Without Soy Sauce

If you’re looking for a vegan kimchi recipe without soy sauce, here’s a delicious option. This recipe uses vegan fish sauce instead of soy sauce to achieve that umami flavor.


– 1 large head Napa cabbage, cored and separated into individual leaves

– 2 tablespoons chapssalgaru (glutinous rice flour, aka sweet rice flour)

– 1/4 cup gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)

– 1/4 cup vegan fish sauce

– 3 tablespoons sugar

– 1 tablespoon minced garlic

– 1 tablespoon minced ginger

– 4 scallions, thinly sliced

– 1 daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchsticks


1. In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage and salt. Let it sit for about two hours until the cabbage has wilted.

2. Rinse the cabbage thoroughly with cold water and drain well.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the chapssalgaru and 1/2 cup water until it forms a smooth paste.

4. Add the gochugaru, vegan fish sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and scallions to the paste and mix well.

5. Add the daikon radish and cabbage to the mixture and use your hands to mix everything together until the vegetables are coated evenly.

6. Pack the mixture tightly into a jar or container with a lid. Leave about an inch of space at the top.

7. Cover the container with a lid and let it sit at room temperature for one to two days until it starts to ferment.

8. Once it’s fermented to your liking, store it in the refrigerator.

This vegan kimchi recipe without soy sauce is perfect for those who want to enjoy this traditional Korean dish without any animal products or soy ingredients. The glutinous rice flour in this recipe helps thicken the chili paste while the vegan fish sauce provides that savory flavor that’s essential to kimchi. Give it a try and enjoy!

Health Benefits Of Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented food that has been gaining popularity in recent years due to its numerous health benefits. One of the most notable health benefits of kimchi is its probiotic content. The lactobacilli bacteria found in kimchi are the same “good bacteria” found in yogurt and other fermented dairy products. Consuming these probiotics can help improve gut health and digestion.

In addition to its probiotic content, kimchi is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Chinese cabbage, one of the main ingredients in kimchi, contains vitamins A and C, at least 10 different minerals, and over 34 amino acids. The exact nutritional profile of kimchi may vary depending on the ingredients used, but a 1-cup serving typically contains low calories and high amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, iron, niacin, and riboflavin.

Furthermore, the fermentation process used to make kimchi may develop additional nutrients that are more easily absorbed by the body. Kimchi is also a great source of fiber which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It has been shown to boost the immune system, improve digestion, lower cholesterol levels, and promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.

Kimchi has a rich history that dates back centuries in Korea. It was originally preserved in jars and buried underground during the cold winter months. As the vegetables fermented during the warmer months, they developed new flavors that made them even more delicious. Today, kimchi remains an incredibly versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways.