Kimchi Grilled Cheese
Easy, cheesy and just the right amount of indulgent, this spicy Korean take on the classic is just what the doctor ordered when comfort food is what you crave.
comfort • main dish • autumn / winter
I think everyone can agree that there is a particular sort of mood that precedes a craving for grilled cheese.
While cold weather and rainy, blustery days do help in creating the right sort of atmosphere, they are by no means essential. Rather, it is a certain, almost childlike frame of mind that is needed — one that says, I want soft bread and mountains of cheese and I will not be deterred by anything so feeble as good sense.
Good intentions and healthy choices stand no chance in the way of such determination. The primal need for pure comfort — carbs and cheese and warmth — overrides everything else. And in these moments, whether it’s the nostalgia or the child that still lives within us all, our appetites become simple, focused and unassailable. I will have grilled cheese and nothing will stand in my way.
If some tomato soup can be rustled up as well, all the better.
But because I am not six, but thirty five, as strong as that inner child is, there is still a little adult voice that sneaks in and says — yes, but couldn’t you sneak a bit of kale in there or something? Which annoying as that voice can be, is somewhat useful because if it weren’t for those thirty odd years of experience and growth, I’d still be eating Wonder Bread with Kraft cheese in the middle and thinking it was the height of sophistication.
So yes, now I use mature sharp cheddar and gluten-free bread and I usually find some way to stuff a vegetable in there, so I suppose you could say I haven’t totally given way to my primal cravings, but there is a certain kind of synergistic beauty to pairing up unfettered childhood desires with notions of health. This is where the kimchi idea came in — to take what is fundamentally a childhood favorite and give it a decidedly adult spin. So let’s just say, this is just the thing for when you need to make both your inner child and your inner adult happy at the very same time. Difficult to do, but kimchi grilled cheese is just the thing to do it.
Kimchi Grilled Cheese
Total time: 15 minutes
2 slices bread (gluten free if you avoid gluten)
1 tablespoons butter, softened or ghee
1/3 cup (70g) kimchi
1/2 cup (50g) sharp cheddar
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Place the kimchi in a strainer and press out as much liquid as you can. You want the kimchi to be relatively dry, so it won’t leek moisture into the bread and make things soggy. No one likes a soggy sandwich.
Liberally spread the softened butter or ghee over on the tops of each slice of bread. Sprinkle liberally with the sesame seeds.
Begin heating a griddle or crepe pan over low heat. Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, on the pan and top with half the cheese. Add the kimchi, top with the remaining cheese and add the final slice of bread, buttered side up. Press everything down to flatten a little with the backside of a spatula.
Cover the pan with a lid or sandwich press and cook the grilled cheese for one to two minutes. Then flip, and cook the remaining side. I usually flip mine again and cook for an additional minute on each side because I like mine extra toasty brown. The key is keep the heat low — the butter on the bread will burn easily, so it’s best to keep things low and slow.
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