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A close up of some kimchi mac and cheese

Oven-Baked Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Dorothy Porker
A solid oven-baked umami rich kimchi mac and cheese recipe that can easily be turned into any other kind of mac and cheese, but honestly: why would you?
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dinner, Main course, Side dish
Cuisine American, Asian, Fusion, Korean
Servings 4 -6 people

Equipment

  • Frying pan, optional - if adding bacon
  • Oven
  • Large pot with lid for boiling pasta
  • Small food processor, optional
  • Small saucepan, for unctuous mac and cheese
  • Ovenproof dish

Ingredients
  

Bacon optional

  • 1 t - 5 gr gochujang fermented Korean chili paste, get this from an Asian supermarket
  • 1 t - 5 gr honey
  • 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce
  • 1 c - 150 gr thick unsmoked bacon cut into cubes

For the mac and cheese

  • 2 1/4 c - 225 gr macaroni or other pasta of choice, I'd steer clear of the stringy and flatter variaties
  • 1 c - 250 ml milk other (non)-dairy variaties or cream also work
  • 4 c - 400 gr cheap cheddar slices the kind your mother warned you about, you can use less or a totally different cheese if you prefer
  • 1 c - 150 gr kimchi more to taste, other vegetables also work
  • 1/2 c - 45 gr breadcrumbs to top, optional but it does add a nice extra texture

Solid or unctuous?

  • 2 large eggs use this for a more solid pasta bake, as pictured OR
  • 2 T - 30 gr butter use this for more unctuous mac and cheese
  • 2 T - 30 gr flour use this for a more unctuous mac and cheese

Instructions
 

If you are using bacon, ideally do this the night before

  • Mix together 1 t - 5 gr gochujang, 1 ts - 5 gr honey and 1/2 T - 7.5 ml soy sauce in a bowl. Add 1 c - 150 gr of bacon cut into cubes and leave to marinade ideally overnight or at least for 1 hour.

If you are using another kind of vegetable

  • If you're adding a different kind of vegetable than kimchi, please make sure this is precooked. Either saute it in some olive oil or butter until soft, or boil it until fully cooked. As the possibilities are kind of endless I will not leave instructions here on how to do that, but the internet is your friend.
  • I murder the kimchi because hot bits of liquid logged kimchi are unpleasant to bite into, but a lot of other sauteed or precooked vegetables will be comfortable kept in bite-sized pieces.

Make mac and cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 350° F/ 175° C.
  • Strain the marinade from the bacon cubes and fry them up in a dry frying pan or skillet until the edges start to crisp. Set aside.
  • Cook 2 1/4 c - 225 gr of pasta al dente according to packet instructions.
  • Use a small food processor to grind 1 c - 150 gr kimchi down to a pulp, if using. You can also use a knife for this. You can keep it in larger pieces or grind down half and keep half in bigger pieces, etc, but I prefer to grind it down completely, because kimchi is cabbage so it’d just be hot pieces of boiling water floating around in your mac and cheese, which doesn’t appeal to me.
  • Drain the pasta and throw it into an ovenproof dish.

For a solid pasta bake

  • Beat together 2 eggs with 1 c - 250 ml milk.
  • Mix the kimchi, bacon into the pasta with 4 c - 400 gr of cheese until all the cheese has melted from the heat of the pasta.
  • Mix the beaten eggs and milk into the pasta mixture until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 30-45 minutes until solid and golden on top.

For an unctuous mac and cheese

  • Melt 2 T - 30 gr of butter in a small saucepan. Once the butter has melted, stir in 2 T - 30 gr of flour with a wooden spoon and stir like a motherfucker, until the mixture has started sticking together and coming off the bottom of the pan. This is what's known as a roux.
  • Now pour in 1 c - 250 ml of milk and keep stirring until this sauce starts to thicken slightly. It needs to coat the back of the spoon for you to be ready for the next step. This will take 5-10 minutes.
  • In an ovenproof dish mix together the pasta, kimchi, bacon and cheese sauce until well-combined.
  • If you like a crunchy topping add a layer of breadcrumbs before placing it into the oven.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top has turned golden and the sauce is bubbling up the sides.

Notes

Kimchi mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for about 3 days. You can reheat it in a skillet or frying pan with some oil.
I find unctuous mac and cheese isn't as nice to reheat as you lose a lot of the sauce on the first serving so any leftovers tend to be on the dry side.
Keyword American, Asian food, asian recipes, cheese, kimchi, Korean American, mac and cheese, macaroni, oven bake