Chefs put their fresh and unexpected spins on the classic Korean dish.
Korean kitchens have thrived in DC for years, of course, but now some of their ingredients are finding exalted places on classic menus around town.
Garlic and Spring-Onion Kimchi
Kimchi can take many forms. Chef de Cuisine Brad Deboy of Blue Duck Tavern makes a spring-garlic-and-onion riff spiced with ginger puree, Worcestershire sauce, spring onion, fish sauce, salt, sugar and Korean chili flakes. After letting it sit for a week to ferment, he puts it through a meat grinder and combines the chunky mixture with rice vinegar, olive oil and fresh herbs to create a vinaigrette. “It’s salty, funky, sweet and sour,” says Deboy, who uses it instead of a traditional butter-based sauce on the lemon brined, slow-cooked half chicken. $28, 1201 24th St. NW, 202.419.6755
Brussels Sprouts Kimchi
Executive Chef John Melfi at Oval Room manages to pack plenty of flavors into his Brussels sprouts kimchi. He seasons it with fermented chili paste, fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and a splash of tart yuzu juice. The Korean-accented greens top off the pork-belly sliders on the bar menu. “It adds nice crunch, while the sweet-and-sour aspects play well with the pork belly,” says Melfi. “Think of it as a coleslaw.” Throughout the year, he makes several seasonally inspired kimchi dishes, including ramp and kohlrabi. $9, 800 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202.463.8700
Collard Greens Kimchi
“We use kimchi as a seasoning agent to add salt and spice to a dish,” explains Executive Chef Keith Cabot at Evening Star Cafe. His version with collard greens features a lot for the palate to process: Korean gochujang sauce, scallions, ginger, fish sauce and more. He adds it to his gnocchi, which is tossed with bacon-based ragu and San Marzano tomatoes. The dish is finished with a heady mix of freshly grated nutmeg and lemon zest, as well as shaved fennel and arugula from the rooftop garden. The kimchi adds a hint of heat without tingling your tongue with the effervescence usually associated with it. $10, 2000 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria, Va., 703.549.5051