Kimchi Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Ron de Guzman

Stage Restaurant at Honolulu Design Center, Honolulu

With alternating layers of spicy, scallion-laden kimchi and melty Havarti, this sandwich represents fusion cooking at its best. Just make sure to generously smear your brioche with butter—the crispy, griddled bread is what makes this sandwich sing.


Kimchi Paste: 
2 tablespoons gochujang paste 
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger (from a 1-inch piece of ginger)
1 teaspoon Korean chile flakes

1/2 head won bok (or Napa) cabbage
1 small bunch scallions
Kosher salt as needed
Kimchi paste (see recipe above)

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches:
1 loaf round country white bread, cut into 8 slices
8 slices plain Havarti cheese
Sliced kimchi 
4 tablespoons butter


Make the kimchi paste: in a bowl, mix the gochujang, sugar, fish sauce, ginger, and chile flakes together. (Note: this base can be used to marinate a variety of ingredients, from vegetables to different meats.)
Make the kimchi: cut the cabbage in half lengthwise and slice the scallions into 1-inch pieces. In a large bowl add the scallions and cabbage and salt liberally to start curing. You’ll need about 2 tablespoons of salt. Refrigerate for 1 hour. After curing, rinse off all the salt and dry the cabbage and scallions. Clean the bowl. Rub the kimchi paste in between each cabbage leaf and return to the cleaned bowl. Refrigerate overnight.
Assemble the sandwich: place 1 slice of Havarti on a slice of bread. Stack 2 pieces of kimchi on top of each other and cut them in half. Place the kimchi on top of the Havarti and top with another slice of cheese and bread. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread, cheese, and kimchi. Heat a griddle over a medium-low heat. Spread each side of the sandwiches with butter and griddle them on both sides until golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 3 minutes per side. Serve immediately.


4 sandwiches