Is Kimchi Halal or Haram?

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Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish that has become popular in western nations, including the UK, in the past two decades. Kimchi is a dish of Napa cabbage and Korean radish. Like other European countries, this healthy and tasty Korean dish is famous in the UK.

Generally, various Kimchi recipes are prepared using multiple vegetable choices. But Kimchi prepared with Napa cabbage is preferred in the country.

kimchi halal or haram

Ingredients of Kimchi

Traditionally, Kimchi is made with Napa cabbage, but nowadays, a variety of vegetables are used for making different Kimchi recipes. The common ingredients of Kimchi include:

  • Napa Cabbage
  • Korean Radish
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spring Onion
  • Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Chili Powder

How To Make Kimchi

To make Kimchi, cut the Napa cabbage into almost 1-inch cubes. After which, the cabbage goes through lacto-fermentation, where it is soaked, stirred, and left for 6-8 hours in water. This process helps in preservation and allows the seasoning to penetrate better.

To prepare Kimchi paste, either Korean chili paste, Korean fermented chili paste, or fresh red chilies are used. The chosen chilies, alongside garlic, ginger, and shallot, are blended in a food processor to make a paste. You can also add the fish sauce, but it is optional – if you are vegan, then no need to add the sauce.

Then, peel and cut radish or carrot into 2-3 inches sticks. Also, cut scallions into 1-2 inches pieces. Place the cabbage, scallions, radish or carrot, and chili paste in a bowl and mix it well. Pack the mixture in a two-quarter jar or large crock and put the brine in the jar to cover the cabbage. Finally, cover the mix with the full cabbage leaves, place a weight over it, and then cover the jar with a lid.

Now place the jar in a dark and cool place to ferment. Usually, 65 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for the Kimchi to ferment. After 3-5 days, you can enjoy the crunchy and tangier Kimchi.

Islamic Principle of Halal and Haram

Muslims worldwide seek guidance from Quran and Sunnah for leading their lives according to Islamic teachings. These two guidance sources contain timeless principles that modern Muslims can follow without hesitation.

Like its clear guiding principles for all aspects of human life, Quran has clear injunctions regarding whether a food or a specific act is halal or haram.

Allah (SWT), in Surah Al Baqarah, has clarified the halal and haram food for Muslims.

He has only forbidden to you dead animals, blood, the flesh of swine, and that which has been dedicated to other than Allah. But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.(Quran 2:173) 

(Source of above-cited Quranic Verse: https://quran.com/2/173?translations=84,17,95,101,22,20)

This Quranic verse is the guiding principle for distinguishing halal food from haram in Islam. According to this verse of the Holy Quran, carrion, i.e. dead meat, the blood, and swine (pig) meat, is haram. And also, if you slaughter any halal animal and dedicate it to others than Allah, it is haram. Therefore, it is not permissible for Muslims to drink alcohol, likewise insects and other haram animals.

Is Kimchi Halal or Haram?

Generally, fermented food is halal, according to Islamic scholars. Kimchi is fermented vegetables, so it is also halal. During the process of fermentation, the production of alcohol is usually in small quantities. Therefore, this tasty Korean cuisine is halal for Muslims and suitable for vegans.

(Source: https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/436879/fermented-sugarcane-and-erythritol-in-food)

However, fermenting the cabbage for a long time causes it to become sour. This indicates a considerable amount of alcohol which makes it haram. At this point, it is better to throw it away and prepare a fresh one. Also, including any haram food additive or other haram ingredients will make the Kimchi haram.

Over to You

Holy Quran and Sunnah are the two primary sources of guidance for all of the Muslim populace. So, in light of the Quran and Sunnah, if Kimchi consists of vegetables and halal ingredients, it is halal. If you add any haram ingredient, or the Napa cabbage produces alcohol in significant quantity during fermentation, then avoid eating it.

However, before taking a final decision, it is most necessary to seek guidance from an established Islamic scholar of your respective school of thought who can make an informed decision based on the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.

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