Today I’d like to have a conversation with you about cooking. We’ve talked about food on Apartment 34 for, well, years now. We all know there’s a big difference between feeding yourself – cuz lesbihonest – there’s Chipotle and Thai takeout for that – and then there is cooking. Getting in there. Making something from nothing. One requires no thought and often less than five minutes. The other can take copious amounts of preparation, time and often some skill. But one only feeds your hunger while the other feeds your soul. Yes, it may sound overly romantic but I firmly believe it’s true.
But am I whipping up 3-course meals every night? Of course not. Most evenings I’m wrestling a toddler into the tub, trying to dash off unfinished emails, tripping over legos all while writing blog posts in my head. I’m totally into those meal-in-a-box kits because, life. But of course I’d like to be of those people who can step into the kitchen and simply whip up something stunning. I look at people who come from a tradition of cooking, with family recipes and cooking skills passed down through generations I feel a little envious. So rather than lament, I decided I want to learn. That’s where my friend Selina Lee comes in.
Selina is an extremely talented home cook and food blogger. Her passion as she explains, “is combining traditional Korean recipes with modern flavors.” The effect is both delicious and beautiful. I’m lucky enough that Selina has offered to touch me – and all of us – some of her ways! If you’re looking to try something new, inject new flavors and new cooking styles into your repertoire, then you’re going to love this series. To kick things off, Selina introduced me to the cult food of the moment. Move over cronut – make way for Kimchi.
KIMCHI TOAST WITH QUAIL EGG (김치토스트) – 4 servings, yields about 8 toasts
2 cups kimchi (seoul kimchi original)
8 sliced baguette
8 quail eggs
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
¼ cup chopped scallion
¼ cup lightly dried chopped parsley
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
toasted sesame seeds
extra virgin olive oil
Chop kimchi into small bite size pieces and finely chop 1 scallion. On a sheet pan, place sliced baguette (I love using sourdough or kalamata olive baguette), drizzle olive oil over the bread and sprinkle cheese. NOTE: soft white cheese like asiago or swiss will work best. Prepare sunny-side fried quail egg with crispy edges.
1. Add olive oil on a skillet over med/high heat. Add chopped kimchi and cook it for about 3 min. I like using more leafy part of the kimchi. Add sugar and soy sauce and cook it for 2 min. TIP: Adding more sugar will balance out the sourness if the kimchi is overly ripened. Add butter and stir fry it until butter is melted then turn the heat off. Drizzle sesame oil (about two spins), sprinkle toasted ground sesame seeds. NOTE: I buy toasted sesame seeds and grind them on a mortar. It really brings out the flavor if you grind them by hand.
2. Bake sliced baguette with cheese in the oven at 325 F for just 15 min. Just enough to melt the cheese and the bread is lighted toasted.
3. Assemble the toast by adding cooked kimchi, fried quail egg and sprinkle some scallions and parsley over the toast. Serve warm.
This dish would be a perfect little appetizer before a beautiful fish dish. Or a stellar addition to a savory brunch menu. It combines familiar comfort foods – bread and cheese – with awesome spice and unique ingredients, but it’s really easy to make. But you don’t have to tell your guests that. This is the type of dish you can pull off quickly and you’ll look like a culinary genius. I can’t wait to see what Selina is going to teach me next.
Btw, if you’re in the Bay Area you should definitely sign up for one of Selina’s cooking workshops. You’ll get hands on experience with Korean cooking in a stunning environment. I can’t recommend it highly enough. The next one is all things Kimchi. You can get more details here.
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