The Grape Tomato Kimchi You Didn’t Know You Needed

An easy-peasy tomato kimchi you will devour from the first spoonful.
An easy-peasy tomato kimchi you will devour from the first spoonful.

How incredible is this “Grape Tomato ‘Quick Kimchi’ “?

Let’s just say that it makes about 2 1/2 cups of kimchi — and my husband and I nearly polished off all of it in one night.

An umami bomb that’s a little spicy and a lot refreshing with bursts of juicy summer fruitiness, it’s just that addictive.

Best yet, it takes practically no time to make.

I spied this recipe by Eric Kim in the New York Times archives, and knew I had to try it.

It’s not your typical kimchi that takes days, weeks or even months to ferment. As Kim writes, it’s more of a muchim or seasoned salad, but it sports the flavor profile of classic kimchi.

It’s simply halved grape tomatoes, salted, then dressed with white distilled vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, fish sauce, sugar and gochugaru. The latter is Korean red chili pepper flakes. Its heat level can vary, depending on the brand. The one I had in my pantry was moderately spicy, with the smoky, earthy and gently bitter edge akin to Spanish pimenton. It gave the tomato kimchi a mellow spiciness, far less than the usual fiery nature of traditional fermented cabbage kimchi.

Korean gochugaru.
Korean gochugaru.

I can see why Kim uses grape tomatoes for this, as their thicker skin doesn’t break down in the dressing, letting you enjoy their slightly crunchy exterior.

The tomato kimchi proved a perfect match for garnishing ahi poke bowls for dinner. The kimchi also would be dynamite spooned over cold silken or soft tofu and cold noodle salads, or served alongside grilled pork, seafood or chicken.

It's a side dish you can practically whip up at the last minute to enjoy.
It’s a side dish you can practically whip up at the last minute to enjoy.

If you don’t finish all the tomatoes, you can refrigerate the rest until the next day. The tomatoes won’t be as crunchy, but the flavor will still be fantastic.

I had all of 1/4 cup left over, so the next day I tossed the kimchi tomatoes and their liquid with some crisp lettuce leaves for a lunch-time salad that tasted exceedingly special, indeed.

What will you spoon it over?
What will you spoon it over?

Grape Tomato “Quick Kimchi”

(Makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups)

1 pound grape tomatoes (about 2 to 3 cups), halved lengthwise

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

½ teaspoon finely grated garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon gochugaru

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Thinly sliced scallions, chopped chives, or cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves for garnish (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the salt, transfer to a colander, and let sit in the sink to drain, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same bowl, add the vinegar and garlic and set aside.

After 30 minutes, add the sesame oil, gochugaru, fish sauce and sugar to the bowl with the vinegar and garlic and whisk to combine. Use a paper or cloth kitchen towel to pat the tomatoes dry, then add the tomatoes to the dressing and toss until well coated.

Garnish with the optional herbs before serving. This is best eaten right away, but can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

From Eric Kim, as published in the New York Times

More Delicious Things to Do With Fresh Tomatoes: Stir-Fried Chicken with Tomatoes

And: My Mom’s Tomato Chow Mein

And: Cold Udon with Fresh Tomatoes

And: Grated Fresh Tomato Spaghetti with Anchovies

And: No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta

And: Smoked Linguine with Clams, Cherry Tomatoes and Basil Pesto

And: Pan-Roasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Pork

And: Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

And: Smoked Barley with Blistered Tomatoes & Burrata

And: Quick-Pickled Grape Tomatoes on Ricotta Toast

And: Julia Child’s Stuffed Tomatoes Provencal

And: Cherry Tomato & Tofu Salad by David Chang

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