I’m slightly obsessed with Kimchi quesadillas. I make them at least once a week and I can’t stop. The concept is so simple and so brilliant. I believe it was the Kogi BBQ food truck in Los Angeles that brought these babies to life. If you don’t like Kimchi or have never had it, now is your chance to experiment. For those unfamiliar, it’s slices of vegetables (usually napa cabbage or daikon radish) pickled in salt and spicy red pepper flakes. It’s certainly spicy, but the salty sweetness brings down the heat to a manageable level. It’s a unique taste that happens to go perfectly with melted cheese.
Kimchi, thank god, has become ubiquitous in most supermarkets. You can find expensive, artisanal versions in the grocery store near the salad dressings. Chances are you live somewhat close to an asian market and there you’ll find trash bags full of fermenting cabbage and radishes.
My college roommates will tell you about my failed attempt at homemade Kimchi. It involved a large glass jar of smelly fermented cabbage exploding on our snow-covered porch. The spicy red pepper-coated cabbage strewn about on the white snow resembled a grisly murder scene. Since then, I’ve timidly stuck to store-bought Kimchi. I like the brand Bing Re Kimchi Pride. In NYC you can find it at M2M on 3rd Ave., at Midoriya in Williamsburg and of course at H Mart on 32nd Street in Koreatown. For this recipe, I suggest you do visit and asian market because you’ll also need gochujang, a Korean sweet/hot red pepper bean paste. You can find gochujang at any of the asian markets listed in this post or order it online! Gochujang usually comes in a large plastic tub that will last you a lifetime. It doesn’t really go bad when stored in the fridge. A small jar of Kimchi will run you about $5.00 and a tub of gochujang, about $7.00, but once you’ve got your hands on them you could practically open a Kimchi quesadilla factory.
You will need:
4 small flour tortillas
2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean red pepper bean paste)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used a blend of cheddar and monterey jack from a bag*)
1/4 cup Kimchi (slice it into bite-sized pieces)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Salsa verde (I think Trader Joes makes and excellent salsa verde)
1. Lay two tortillas on a cutting board and slather 1 teaspoon of gochujang on each with the back of a spoon. Then sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on each followed by 1/8 cup of Kimchi. Place a second tortillas on top.
2. Heat 1/2 the oil in a small non-stick skillet. Carefully transfer 1 of the built quesadillas to the pan with a spatula. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side and then flip to cook for an additional 2 minutes. A nice crust should form and the cheese may ooze out the sides. Repeat for the second quesadilla. Slice each into 4 triangles and serve with salsa verde.
*Had just paid some big bills and wasn’t about to spring for the good stuff