Kimchi Is The Unexpected Ingredient For Elevating Your Cornbread

removing a piece of kimchi from jar with chopsticks
removing a piece of kimchi from jar with chopsticks - 4kodiak/Getty Images

Everybody's got a favorite cornbread -- whether it's from the local diner, their grandmother's, a boxed mix that reminds them of their childhood, or a Southern family recipe. But what'll be the secret to your cornbread that'll make it memorable and unique? The secret lies in the flavorings of a staple in Korean kitchens: kimchi. And if you've never tried cooking with fermented foods like kimchi, this is your gateway to incorporating them into your favorite recipes.

The prospect of kimchi in your cornbread may sound new, but take it from Dallas chef Alex Astranti, who annually makes Kimchi cornbread for a special Thanksgiving dinner menu. The kimchi "adds umami flavors, a little spice, and a level of moisture," Astranti told The Dallas Morning News. While Astranti takes inspiration from kimchi flavors to create his cornbread, Korean home cooks have incorporated actual kimchi into their cornbread recipes as well. Both create a delicious result!

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

How To Incorporate Kimchi Into Your Cornbread

person holding a piece of kimchi cornbread
person holding a piece of kimchi cornbread - basicsunday_cooking/Instagram

Cornbread can be naturally sweet if you add sugar to the cornmeal and flour base mixture. Kimchi can balance out the sweetness with a kick of spice and an undercurrent of savory umami. Some even add sour cream to upgrade their cornbread to a creamy, fluffy delight. But no matter your choice of base cornbread recipe, the key here is to avoid crumbly, dry cornbread at all costs. Luckily, the kimchi comes in handy here too.

The kimchi flavor base used by Astranti includes a mixture of shallots, ginger, garlic, green onion, Thai chile peppers, Korean red pepper, fish sauce, soy sauce, and white vinegar finely chopped and mixed in a food processor. Then, he cooks up the mixture in a skillet and gently folds it into the cornmeal mix. But if you simply have a jar of kimchi on hand or want to skip a few of those steps, using actual kimchi works well, too. Try lightly charring your kimchi, then chopping it up and adding it to the cornmeal mixture. Either method will help moisten your cornbread.

Other Surprising Kimchi Uses

a kimchi grilled cheese sandwich
a kimchi grilled cheese sandwich - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

You may typically use kimchi to add a fermented kick to your noodles or rice bowls. But now that you know its potential for even sweeter treats like cornbread, get ready to unlock the beautiful world of cooking with kimchi. Kimchi pairs surprisingly well with cheese (also a common savory addition to cornbread), helping to zest and crunch up a gooey mac and cheese or grilled cheese sandwich.

Or, turn to kimchi as the acidic base for your next marinade or dressing. You've got most of the flavor profiles taken care of already; just add your fats, and you have a uniquely sour but spicy flavoring for your meats or salads. Why not get even more creative and create a kimchi compound butter to spread on top of your new kimchi cornbread? For the creative cooks out there, you won't regret taking inspiration from this fermented food for all your next cooking adventures, classic cornbread included.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.