Kimchi has a split personality. When I eat it raw, its crunchy acidity sneaks into my eyes and shuts them shut tightly. It’s addictive, like sour candy. But the cabbage is cooked until almost caramelized, as in today’s recipe, it softens, its inner sweetness is released, and the harsh acidity softens to the point that it can only raise an eyebrow.
Kimchi tomato pasta with sesame crumbs
Kimchi varies greatly in quality and salt content. Buy the best you can (I like Eaten Alive and King Kong Kimchi) and adjust the seasoning to suit your needs. Gochugaru is Korea’s biggest squeeze when it comes to chili. It smells sweet, like dried strawberries, and has a low to medium heat level. Find it at your local Asian store or online.
Prepare 5 minutes
cook 30 minutes
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oilPlus an extra service
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
150g kimchiArrayed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons gochugaru (Korean paprika powder)
2 teaspoons agave syrup or brown rice syrup
1 x 400g chopped tomatoes – I love Mama Bulba
fine sea salt
400 grams of spaghetti
50g dried bread crumbs
15 grams black sesame
15 grams pine nuts
Pour canola oil and 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and when heated add garlic and cook until pale golden, 2 minutes. Add the kimchi and stir for a few minutes, until all the water is removed and the oil separates clearly.
Stir in Gochugaru and syrup, then add the tomatoes and cook until a bubble forms. Reduce heat, three-quarters covered with a lid (because sauce may thicken it may splatter) and cook, stirring occasionally, until well thickened, 15-20 minutes. Season to taste (the saltiness of kimchi varies – I used ½ to 1 tsp salt).
Meanwhile, prepare the breadcrumbs. In a small skillet over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and when hot, add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, and sesame seeds and stir until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden brown. Stir in a pinch or two of salt and place in a bowl.
Fill a very large saucepan with water and salt (I use 1 teaspoon of salt for every liter of water) and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions and just before draining, scoop a small cup of the cooking water and set aside.
Add the drained pasta to the sauce and stir with a spaghetti spoon or tongs, adding a little more pasta water if the sauce needs to be thinned. Check the spices and adjust them as desired.
Arrange the noodles in four places, generously sprinkle the sesame crumbs on them and drizzle some sesame oil if you like.