Kimchi, bacon, and Cheddar seem like an unlikely trio, but they all come together beautifully; the trick is to sauté the kimchi in butter to soften the funk. We absolutely adore this dish; the only problem is to figure out how to portion control the kimchi-bacon-mac-and-cheese addicts around our households. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
4 to 6 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
14 ounces kimchi (store-bought is fine), drained and chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 to 3 cups whole or semi-skim milk
1 pound cooked short pasta, such as elbow macaroni, fusilli, or penne rigate
Freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
8 ounces grated Comté or Cheddar, or a combination of both
garnish thinly sliced green onion
Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large, oven-safe skillet for about 7 minutes, until the bacon is cooked through and starting to crisp. If there’s more than 3 tablespoons of rendered fat, omit adding the butter. Otherwise, add the butter. Add the chopped kimchi and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the kimchi, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the milk and, stirring constantly, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in the cooked pasta, pepper, and hot sauce, if using. Add a little more milk if too thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheeses. If the mixture is thick, add a little bit more milk. Taste and adjust seasoning as you add more milk. Garnish with green onion and serve at once.
Dr. Seung Hee Lee is a cookbook author, world-touring pop-up chef, epidemiologist, and natural wine lover. Trained in Korean Royal Court cuisine, Seung’s cooking adapts traditional Korean recipes into modern kitchens everywhere. Join us as Chef Seung showcases recipes from her book, "Everyday Korean." Her extraordinary fusions of American and Korean cuisine will be highlighted in dishes of kimchi mac and cheese, roasted salmon, and kimchi slaw.