Don’t get me wrong – I love a bowl of good ol’ mac and cheese with all it’s deliciousness. But I’ve always wondered if I could do something to break up the richness of the cheese with a kick of spice or acid. And then, the idea presented itself to me – why not add kimchi?! Voila, we end up with a delightful kimchi mac and cheese, where the fermented duo of cheese and kimchi balance each other beautifully and result in a flavor explosion on your tongue.
You have to make sure you don’t overpower the mac and cheese with the fermented flavors. I’ve found that the key is to actually saute the kimchi in butter (or a high fat oil like avocado oil) and then add some flour to that to make a roux. This way, when you make your kimchi mac and cheese, the flavors can easily be absorbed by the pasta.
What is kimchi? What type of kimchi should I use?
Kimchi is typically a fermented cabbage preserve that’s a staple of Korean cuisine. While it’s typically eaten as a condiment, I’ve used kimchi in many other … uh … unconventional recipes (like this crispy kimchi pancake, inspired by one of my best friend’s mom). Kimchi typically packs a good dose of acid, so picking a good bottle is really essential. I typically use vegan kimchi with a focus on Napa cabbage since regular kimchi sometimes has shrimp and anchovy extract. I’d suggest checking out the local Asian grocery store and asking them for recommendations!
What kind of cheese should you use for this kimchi mac and cheese?
I have a trifecta of cheeses that I use for all my mac and cheese recipes (including this kimchi mac and cheese). Asiago, Fontina, and Parmesan. The key is that most successful, rich mac and cheese recipes use more than one type of cheese. You can substitute Asiago and Fontina with Gruyere and sharp Cheddar. Any combination of those cheeses would work – but just make sure grate your own cheese! Store-bought shredded or grated cheese typically have agents like potato starch added to them to prevent them from clumping. This also means they won’t melt as smoothly as fresh cheese. And fresh cheese always tastes so much better!Print
A mouthwatering, umami-packed kimchi mac and cheese recipe that brings the best of all worlds together with cheesy, spicy, goodness.
- One box of curly pasta (I typically use quinoa elbows to make myself feel a bit healthier, but any variety works) – roughly 8 oz
- 1/2 cup of kimchi (chopped finely or pulsed in a food processor)
- 3 tbsp of butter
- 1/2 cup of cream (can be substituted for almond milk if you want a more nutty flavor)
- 1/2 lb of cheese (I typically use a combination of sharp cheddar, Gruyere and parmesan!)
- 2 tsp of salt
- 2 tsp of fresh black pepper
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1/2 cup of panko bread crumbs
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta based on the directions on the box
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
- While the pasta cooks, heat the butter in a medium Dutch oven
- Once the butter has melted, add the kimchi to the butter and saute until the water in the kimchi reduces significantly (roughly 5-6 minutes)
- Add flour to this to create a roux
- Once mixed well, add the cream, salt, pepper and garlic powder and whisk nicely to form a fluid mixture
- By this time, the pasta should be done – drain the pasta (reserving 1/3 cup of pasta water)
- Add about 2-3 tbsp of pasta water to the sauce and stir well
- Reduce the stove to low flame, and add the pasta into the pot
- Mix to coat the pasta well and then turn off the stove, then add cheese and mix well again
- Add the panko bread crumbs to the top of the Dutch oven and then pop in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes until the bread crumbs turns golden brown
- Serve hot!
- If you’re prepping this for a party, you can make kimchi mac and cheese party cups – spoon in the mac and cheese into the holes in a muffin tray (fill 2/3rd of the way). Add the panko bread crumbs and pop in the oven for delicious kimchi mac and cheese bites!
- Category: Snacks
- Method: Stove-Top and Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: kimchi mac and cheese, mac and cheese bites, superbowl snacks