Kimchi might epitomize what Americans love and fear most about Korean cuisine.
And its acid, crunch and funk, while a turnoff for some, is why it is ideal for the most classically rich, creamy comfort foods. Kimchi beginners ought to use Sara Jenkins’s grilled kimcheese sandwich as training wheels: At her new Porsena Extra Bar in New York, she blends two types of cheese with kimchi and spreads the mixture between two slices of bread. Then the entire sandwich is wrapped in foil and cooked until perfectly melty and crisp (see the recipe).
Kimchi is the secret ingredient to the fried chicken on the brunch menu at Superba in Los Angeles, too. Jason Neroni blends kimchi into the ketchup that accompanies the crisp bird.
In New Orleans, the kitchen at Maurepas Foods offers a newfangled take on gumbo in the form of a shrimp hot pot. The broth teems with andouille sausage, mushrooms and, yes, kimchi. To complete the comfort quotient, it is served alongside a giant biscuit.
Even more traditional uses for kimchi go the comfort route. Take the classically Korean kimchi soup. Rich with tofu, pork and fiery chile, it’s the ideal dish to warm up to on a blustery day (see the recipe).