Of Rice and Ramen: Kimchi Macaroni and Cheese

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Kimchi is a traditional Korean side (banchan) that is made by pickling nappa cabbage with red pepper flakes. There are different varieties of kimchi made with less spice or different ingredients such as radish (daikon), cucumber or green onions. For some, it may be an acquired taste as it is both sour and spicy, unlike many Western flavors.

I found a version of this recipe online and I made it for dinner with a friend and adapted the recipe more to my taste. This is a great one to try out this weekend or next. The changing weather makes you want to cuddle up with a bow-tie noodle in this spin on a traditional comfort food. The majority of the cook time for this dish is very hands-off, while it needs time to bake and crisp the savory kimchi topping. While it is in the oven, your kitchen will be warmed by the amazing aroma that is sure to make you hungry for other banchan. If you prefer less or more spice, you can alter the amount of peppers (the Korean kind or jalapeños) and the amount of kimchi you use.

For the cheese in this dish, I like to use sharp cheddar and pepper jack. Any variety of shredded cheese will do, depending on your preferences.

Kimchi Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 Korean chili pepper or anaheim pepper, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced into rings
  • 2 cups uncooked farfalle
  • 1⁄2 to 1 cup kimchi, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped on the diagonal to 1⁄4”
  • salt
  • cilantro, for garnish

Directions

  • Prepare the pasta as directed on the box, cooking for 3-4 minutes less. Add a little salt to the boiling water and give it a stir when you add the pasta the pasta — it will make it a cheese little more flavorful and you won’t need as much salt in the sauce. Set a timer if that helps!

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit

  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the flour to create a roux for the sauce. It should be smooth without too many lumps of flour — no one likes to bite into flour when chowing on mac and cheese!

  • Turn off the heat (to avoid scalding), then stir in the milk and whisk until the roux is evenly dissolved.

  • When the pasta is done, drain it and set aside until the sauce is prepped.

  • Turn the stove back on to medium, then stir the sauce until it is thickened and bubbling. Add 2 cups of shredded cheese and the Korean pepper, continuing to stir until melted. Salt to taste.

  • Place half of the cooked pasta in a 8-9” baking dish and pour half of the cheese sauce over the top.

  • Sprinkle some of the kimchi in the middle and layer the remaining bow-ties then cheese sauce on top.

  • Top with remaining kimchi, cheese and 1/3 of green onions.

  • Bake for 30 minutes (add 5-10 if you like a crisp top) , serve immediately with more shredded cheese, cilantro, green onion and jalapeño rings for garnish.