What To Consider When Adding Kimchi To Your Grilled Cheese

As the writer and philosopher Gilbert K. Chesterton once noted, "The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese" (via AZ Quotes), and true cheese fans know there's only one way to achieve that perfectly melted mouthful. You know it, you (probably) love it: the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Celebrity chef Ina Garten calls grilled cheese and tomato soup "the ultimate comfort meal," per Redbook, and according to National Today, April 12 is even heralded as National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. But, for longtime fans looking to switch things up, there's an ideal ingredient for the job: kimchi.

Kimchi is a relish-like staple of Korean cuisine made from pickled, fermented vegetables (typically cabbage) and garlic, ginger, salt, chili peppers, and fish sauce, per The Spruce Eats. Other veggies like radishes, cucumbers, and carrots are sometimes added to the mix, as well. It adds a sour, tangy kick of fermented flavor to any dish — including your grilled cheese sandwich. But, as with any meal in your culinary repertoire, enjoying the reward of a good idea is all about nailing the execution. So before you get ready to take your grilled cheese to the next level, here's what to consider when adding kimchi to it.

Spice things up (but not too much)

Luckily, kimchi and cheese already make a naturally complementary pair. Both these ingredients are made possible by the process of lacto-fermentation, says PBS. Plus, they're both aged, and their respective flavor profiles have a strong umami taste to reflect it. Crunchy, fibrous kimchi also adds a compelling textural component to a classic grilled cheese sandwich. It's quite literally a recipe for success.

But check your kimchi's level of spiciness before you slam a heaping spoonful onto your grilled cheese, says MasterClass. Not all kimchis are created equal, and an ultra-spicy variety might not be as welcome on your sammie. Or, on the flip side, if you want to turn up the heat a notch, the outlet suggests smearing your bread with gochujang. Also, make sure your kimchi isn't too wet by giving it a good press before adding it to the sandwich. Nobody wants soggy grilled cheese.

From there, all that's left to do is choose your bread and cheese and fry away. MasterClass recommends using sourdough and Gruyere cheese. PBS says plain old white bread will do the trick. The New York Times says mozzarella. This Grilled Kimcheese recipe uses a mix of sharp white cheddar and American cheeses and a smear of mayo to balance the kimchi's naturally spicy fermented flavor. Ultimately, the kimchi grilled cheese is a choose-your-own-adventure, but with these tips, the final destination is a satisfying bite.