Cooking for One Yields Some Great New Discoveries for Two. Or More.
I don’t know about you, but in our house, there are some forbidden ingredients. Olives of any kind. Cabbage when used outside of Cole Slaw. Pickles. Blue Cheese. Cauliflower. And most especially Kimchi, which elicits a particularly sharp rebuke. These days, we’re both cooking for one most of the week. Andrew’s back in business and I’m out here on my own. So, need I tell you, I took the first opportunity to use verboten foods. And wouldn’t you know it, The New York Times granted my Kimchi wishes with not one but three options. Not that this is literally Kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented dish that commonly starts with cabbage and salt. It can ripen for months only getting better as it goes along—that is “better” if you like Kimchi. Here, Eric Kim uses Kimchi ingredients to recreate Kimchi flavors, He does this using vinegar for his “Quick Kimchis” which he explains aren’t kimchis technically but “seasoned” salads called muchims in Korea.
Who is the genius with Kimchi? Why a Kim of course!
The son of Korean immigrants, Kim was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. By coincidence, my parents lived in Atlanta. Kim’s day job is as a writer/recipe developer at Food 52. By coincidence too, he is the Table for One columnist. He also wrote an essay called “I came out to my parents over Kimchi Fried Rice”. No comment. And if you were going to learn about Kimchi, why not learn it from someone with the most common family name in Korea? 21.5 percent of the entire population of South Korea is named Kim. So here we have three variations. Every one of them can be ready in 40 minutes. Kim says they’re best eaten in the first 24 hours. I wouldn’t know, mine were eaten long before that. Persian Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes and Fennel all but tasted terrific whether traditional or not. But it was the Cherry Tomatoes which I chose to transform a Classic Wedge Salad.
The Classic Wedge Salad greatly improved with Quick Kimchi Tomatoes
Iceberg lettuce is transformed into a wedge of cool, crispness topped with Blue Cheese dressing. Bacon bits are essential for their smoky, porky crunch. The final touch is a shower of sweet baby tomatoes. These not only add color, but they’re also a juicy counterpart to the Iceberg. And this case, using Eric Kim’s Quick Kimchi for Tomatoes added a terrific spice note. It seemed made to partner with the silkiness of the Blue Cheese dressing. And thin strips of shallots that topped the tomatoes, were a perfect touch of onion flavor.
The Wedge Salad goes way back with a wonderful back story to boot.
Food Historians give the Ancient Egyptians the credit for cultivating lettuce first. Its succulent leaves spread from there to Persia, Greek, and Roman Empires. It was brought to the New World, specifically to the Bahamas in the 1400s. It was grown all over America. But it was the expansion of the Railroads that made it a permanent fixture on her tables. By the 1920s Crisphead lettuce, as it was then called, could be packed under mounds of ice and moved without losing its freshness. Renaming it “Iceberg” was a natural. The recipe for the Wedge Salad appeared in print in 1916. It took off in restaurants in the 20s, suffered a popularity decline until the 70s. Then it was picked up by steakhouse chains, buoyed by lettuce introductions like “Iceberg Babies”. And now with the addition of Quick Kimchi Tomatoes, it will create quite the sensation on your table. Here are all the recipes for today.
Classic Wedge Salad with Quick Cherry Tomato Kimchi
A great new take on a Steakhouse Favorite. The spicy Kimchi adds a new dimension of flavor.
- 2 cups Quick KImchi Cherry Tomatoes (recipe follows)
- 1 small shallot
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium lemon
- 1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 ounces), divided
- 1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
- 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces)
- 1 medium head iceberg lettuce (about 18 ounces)
- Step 1 Make the Quick Kimchi 40 minutes before putting the salad together.
- Step 2 Mince 1 small shallot (about 2 tablespoons). Finely chop until you have 2 tablespoons fresh chives. Finely grate 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup).
- Step 3 Juice 1 medium lemon (about 3 tablespoons) into a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the crumbled blue cheese and mash with the back of a fork to create a smooth paste. Add 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix thoroughly until combined. Refrigerate while you cook the bacon.
- Step 4 Prepare four slices of bacon until they are super-crispy. Cool slightly then chop into bacon bits.
- Step 5 Place the lettuce wedges cut-side up a serving platter or individual salad plates. Brush the cut sides of each wedge with some dressing. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
- Step 6 Top with the remaining 1/2 cup blue cheese, bacon, Quick Cherry Tomato Kimchi, shallots, chives, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Serve with the remaining dressing.