Kimchi Cheese Fries

If I can’t put kimchi on it, I don’t want to hear about it.

Just kidding.

But in all seriousness, about 75% of our dinners include kimchi.

I recently got the idea of kimchi cheese fries in my head and haven’t been able to get it out. I blame my friend Mel for posting a picture of a tater tot with kimchi and mayo, I think that’s what started it, somehow.

One thing led to another and when I was trying to think of toppings for Cooks Illustrated’s cold oil fries, (more publicly explained by Smitten Kitchen), I realized my two separate projects/cravings could become one.

You can find the results of the experiment by clicking here, or continue reading to learn about the intricacies of cold oil fries, gooey beer cheese, and why kimchi belongs on everything.

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As with (almost) every other fry recipe, this one starts with potatoes. However, from there it takes a different route to crispy doneness than most. It involves submerging Yukon Gold potatoes in cold oil, bringing it up to a rolling boil, then cooking for about 25 minutes until the taters are crispy and done.

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Cooks Illustrated says the potatoes require and absorb less oil, cause less of a stink, and result in fries just as good as twice fried. My verdict: they definitely do.

Although, they are not as crispy as the boiled, fried, frozen, then fried (BFFF?), McDonald’s imitation fries that J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats came up with a couple years ago. I’ll post my take on those someday soon.

These are a different, slightly more rustic fry than Kenji’s. The kind of chip I envision eating at a pubhouse, fast-food-fry they are not.

Take the (hot, oily) plunge, make these fries, they’re super easy.

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As the fries cooked – mine took 30 minutes because I cut them kind of thick -I made the cheese sauce.

I know all the tricks for using evaporated milk and cornstarch for easy Queso, or straight up melting velveeta, but I wanted to somehow use beer instead of milk… I had beer but I didn’t have milk.

I found a couple different recipes that used beer, cream cheese, and cheddar, and luckily, I had a hunk of forgotten cream cheese from some long past, stuffed muffin experiment. Thank heavens for the seemingly immortal character of commercial cream cheese.

The cream cheese gives the sauce tang, the cheddar gives it sharpness, and the beer rounds it out without weighing it down like using cornstarch or more dairy might. I also added garlic powder because. Just because.

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All in all, pretty much the perfect combination; especially when topped with copious amounts of tangy, homemade kimchi to cut the grease, thinly sliced jalapenos, heaps of cilantro, and a hefty drizzle of Francesca Hot Sauce.

Enough with the talking, onto the cooking. By the way, this is how I cook, in case you’re ever under the illusion that I have a peaceful, neat home life.

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Kimchi Cheese Fries

Makes enough for the two of us, I won’t judge your eating habits.

1 recipe Cold Oil Fries, see below
1 recipe Beer Queso, see below
1 cup of your favourite kimchi
Oil
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
Lots of cilantro
Francesca Hot Sauce

Start the fries, and while the fries cook, make the cheese sauce.

Heat a small bit of oil in a cast iron pan over high heat, add the kimchi and cook without moving until the bottom has blackened a touch, but the top is just warmed through.

Divide the fries between your plates, smother with cheese sauce, add kimchi, then garnish with jalapenos, cilantro, and Francesca.

Put any extra cheese sauce in a pitcher on the table so people don’t feel embarrassed asking for more.

Cold Oil Fries

Makes enough for 2 people who are not overly concerned with health.
Based on Cooks Illustrated’s research.

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
5-6 cups peanut oil
Salt

Cut your potatoes into whatever fryish size you want. Cooks Illustrated recommends 1/4 inch, but I cut mine heftier (see photo above) and they turned out fine, with more creamy inside to crispy outside.

Rinse your potatoes and put in a pot with enough oil to just cover them. Turn the heat to medium high and bring to a rolling boil.

Once boiling, turn your heat down to medium and cook 20 to 30 minutes, or until you like them. You might have to adjust the heat very slightly if you find they’re browning too fast without cooking through, or cooking through without browning fast enough. It’s not rocket science, they’re going to be greasy, crispy, and delicious pretty much no matter what.

Once done, drain on paper towels or used paper bags (the only reason I get bags from the LCBO). Salt them while they’re hot.

Beer Queso

Makes about 2 cups. Based on common sense and Buzzfeed’s recipe.

1/2 cup or half a brick cream cheese
1 can of a neutral, nonhoppy beer, we used Steamwhistle
250 grams or about 2 cups old cheddar
1 tsp garlic power

Put the cream cheese and 3/4 of the can of beer in a pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and add all the cheddar and garlic powder.

If it seems too thick, add the rest of the beer. Yes, it’s that easy.

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