Kimchi, vegan or not, the bugs don’t mind


Interesting news from the journal Food Microbiology. It would seem that kimchi, that side dish staple from Korea, made with fish sauce or using miso as a substitute ends up with near identical bacterial communities.

So why look into this and what does it mean? Well, kimchi is traditionally made with a fermented fish sauce, which of course, vegans can’t eat. According to the researchers there has been an increase in using miso, which is made of fermented beans instead. Both add umami to the finished products but have different bacterial profiles. The researchers wanted to see what effect these different additions would have on the finished product. In other words, would the bacteria that dominate in the fish sauce and the miso be the ones that dominate in the finished kimchi.

Basically no. They found that despite having quite different communities of bacteria at the beginning both types of kimchi ended with very similar bacterial profiles. This bacterial profile also matched that found in the surrounding environment. Whether it is the kimchi that is inoculating the local environment or vice versa the researchers could not say. The take home message was that even without fish sauce, one of the traditional ingredients in kimchi, you can still treat your gut to the same “good” bacteria.

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