Under the never-ending list of Things I Absolutely Have to Make (or have already made) and (need to) Blog About (including my favorite go-to Korean staple, kimchi jjigae/stew, which has been requested by several & is soon to come), there is the kimchi quesadilla, which I have finally gotten around to making. It may sound a little strange initially, but trust me, the pairing of kimchi with cheese is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, growing up in Korea, this was a prevalent and beloved conjunction of contrasting flavors and textures: tart, spicy, briny, and crunchy with buttery, nutty, oozy, and melted; a serious match made in culinary heaven.
However, it wasn’t until last summer when I visited L.A. amidst the Kogi Truck craze, that I had the opportunity to try one of these insanely good, savory treats. I was immediately blown away at first bite. As I’ve experienced re-creating this quesadilla with my own artistic flare, I’ve consistently found myself wondering: why has this concept not been popularized sooner? I mean, everybody loves quick and easy finger-food, especially when it goes hand-in-hand with an ice-cold Corona and lime, right?
Koreans are always trying to incorporate kimchi into other cultures and their cuisines, only leaving me increasingly eager now to know what’s next in Korean fusion food! But, until then, thank you infinitely Roy Choi (skillful mastermind behind the Kogi Truck) for the execution of and inspiration for this tangible nirvana.
Adapted from Roy Choi
1 cup cabbage kimchi (preferably fermented for flavor), drained and chopped
2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1 tablespoon Canola/olive oil
1. Add the butter to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When melted, add the kimchi. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occassionally, until the kimchi begins to look tender and the edges start to turn a little golden brown.
2. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for a few minutes.Divide the kimchi, cheese, and sesame seeds between the two tortillas. Fold each tortilla in half.
3. Pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add both folded tortillas to the skillet, cover, and cook for about 2 minutes per-side, or until they are golden browned and the cheese has melted.
4. Slice into serving portions and serve with sesame-gochujang sour cream (recipe as follows)