Kristen Kish explains how cooking with kimchi is far from intimidating, interview

Kristen Kish for Jongga, photo provided by Jongga Global
Kristen Kish for Jongga, photo provided by Jongga Global /

From her many crowning achievements on food television to impressive Austin restaurant, Arlo Grey Kristen Kish curates impeccable recipes that take guests on a flavor journey. While she might appreciate a quick service restaurant burger on occasion, elevating those flavors can come with tweaking an ingredient or two. As more home cooks learn to appreciate layers of flavor, cooking with kimchi is more than just a condiment on some ramen. For Kish, showing cooks how to use Jongga Kimchi in a variety of dishes proves that this product is a pantry staple.

Sometimes when home cooks hear the ingredient kimchi, the pungent, fermented ingredient can be a little intimidating. While the flavor can transform a dish, it cannot be added without care. Still, as many cooks explore cuisines and cultures, the Korean staple has many uses.

While Kish is a celebrate chef, she appreciates that her Korean heritage blended with American culture impacts her food on the plate. Through this partnership with the number one kimchi brand worldwide, her Jongga Kimchi recipes highlight robust flavors and spices while still being rooted in the familiar. This idea makes it easy for the home cook to experiment with the ingredient in a myriad of ways.

Kristen Kish celebrates the evolution of kimchi as an ingredient.

Recently, FoodSided spoke with Kristen Kish regarding her Jongga partnership. Kish said, “I’ve been a witness to the evolution of kimchi becoming more mainstream.” From other Korean chefs, like Ester Choi, celebrating Korean flavors and dishes to cooks learning to use these ingredients, there is less mystery and more desire to use them.

Kristen Kish cooks with Jongga kimchi
Kristen Kish for Jongga, photo provided by Jongga Global /

Instead of people being intimidated by the flavor, Kish recommends cooks add a little to something familiar. For example, topping a burger or hot dog with that fermented cabbage or adding a spoonful as an acid component to a dish is a tasty starting point.

The biggest takeaway from Kish’s cooking advice is to think of kimchi as an acid component. Although not a one-to-one swap, it is a way to balance a recipe, add brightness to a dish or otherwise transform flavor. Why couldn’t some kimchi be a substitute for a pickle on a burger? That substitution concept might be the easiest way for cooks to find new ways of using kimchi.

In addition, Kish recommends thinking about the kimchi in two components, the cabbage and the “kimchi juice. Although the home cook might not be adding the ingredient to a dessert, the two items can work in various ways.

From a touch of the liquid in a sauce or a cocktail, it can bring the brightness that a recipe needs. On the other hand, the cabbage can bring the texture and flavor to another dish. The uses just start to multiply.

Looking specifically at brunch, a kimchi influenced Bloody Mary with savory fritta might be a winner. Or, even just a little kimchi on top of an omelet instead of a hot sauce could be a nice substitution.

While Kish is championing the many uses of the Jongga Kimchi, it is more than just the ingredient. She and the company are raising awareness about food preservation and food waste. As Kish shared, her role as a chef gives her a platform to talk about these food issues.

She recalled how her time in a restaurant kitchen always includes thoughts on reducing food waste. Whether it was pickling ingredients or repurposing what some people would consider scraps, ensuring that nothing is overlooked seems to be the duty of a conscientious chef.

Through the Generation Preservation campaign, the brand appreciates that it has a duty to preserve plant-forward foods. The connections between health, wellness, and the environment need to be strengthened so that all areas can continue to thrive. Thoughtfulness part of the conversation both at and beyond the table.

For now, it is time to put a jar of Jongga Kimchi in the pantry and start cooking. It might not be the first ingredient in a favorite recipe, but it is one that will amplify the total flavor in delectable way.

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