Here’s how to make BellyQ chef Bill Kim’s excellent Korean pesto | Bleader

Monday, April 23, 2018

Here’s how to make BellyQ chef Bill Kim’s excellent Korean pesto

Posted By on 04.23.18 at 06:00 AM

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

click to enlarge Sauces and seasonings for steak-and-asparagus night. Clockwise from upper right: Korean pesto, nuoc cham, gochuchang, lemongrass chile sauce. Center: blackening seasoning. Not pictured: Korean barbecue sauce - MIKE SULA
  • Mike Sula
  • Sauces and seasonings for steak-and-asparagus night. Clockwise from upper right: Korean pesto, nuoc cham, gochuchang, lemongrass chile sauce. Center: blackening seasoning. Not pictured: Korean barbecue sauce
I haven't always been gentle when I've written about Bill Kim's food. I've long been of the (immensely unpopular) opinion that the former fine-dining chef behind the immensely popular BellyQ (and erstwhile Urban Belly and Belly Shack) tends to oversaturate his food with too many disparate influences.

Guess what? He doesn't care.

"Do there really have to be borders on our cuisine?," he writes in the truly touching and humble introduction to his new cookbook Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces, in which he describes his culinary evolution—from his arrival in Chicago at the age of seven, speaking no English, on up through culinary school, Charlie Trotter's, and the three Bellys—as a truly American syncretism.

The book, coauthored by Plate editor Chandra Ram [disclosure: I'm a past contributor to the magazine], is manifestly a document to that, its foundation being a group of master sauces he uses to season, marinate, and create a multitude of dishes that go far beyond what most people recognize as Korean barbecue.

That being said, this was a busy week, so I wanted something simple, settling on grilled skirt steak and asparagus with a gochuchang-based sauce. Not so fast. The steak relies on two of Kim's master sauces, one of which relies on two others. All told, steak-and-asparagus night required me to prepare a total of seven different recipes from his book.

And that's OK. The sauces are scaled for multiple applications, and Kim provides lots of uses for them. Despite my usual prejudices, I'm particularly enamored of one of the seven. His Korean pesto—which draws upon (please stay with me) Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian influences—is tangy, spicy, nutty, a little sweet, and, as he says, somewhat "cheesy," owing not to any actual cheese in the formula, but to kimchi.

The pesto was a winning dipping sauce for the steak, great with steak and eggs in the morning too, and under the chef's direction I'll be putting it to use this summer with shisito peppers, grilled crabs, curried chicken burgers, and cauliflower steaks—and probably more.

On Thursday, April 26, Kim will give an in-store talk and recipe demo at Read It and Eat (2142 N. Halsted, 773-661-6158) that features his Korean barbecue skirt steak with kimchi pesto and brussels sprouts. It's $25 for the cooking demo alone, $44.70 with a copy of the cookbook (tickets at Eventbrite). 

Here's the recipe:
 
click to enlarge Korean pesto, made with kimchi - JOHNNY AUTRTY
  • Johnny Autrty
  • Korean pesto, made with kimchi
Bill Kim's Korean Pesto
Okay, I know you’re wondering what pesto has to do with Korean barbecue. But pesto doesn’t have to be exclusive to Italian cooking. It’s just a combination of nuts and oil and herbs and other ingredients, and it can be used in anything from a dipping sauce to a soup to a marinade. So I took Asian versions of these ingredients—like kimchi instead of cheese for a little fermented element—and created a similarly balanced sauce that is distinctly Korean. It adds intensity and will elevate the flavors in your food.

¼ cup Nuoc Cham Sauce (see below)
¼ cup Lemongrass Chili Sauce (see below)
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
¼ cup kimchi, homemade or store-bought
¼ cup dry-roasted peanuts
½ cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
¼ cup olive oil

PREP TIME 10 minutes
MAKES 1 cup
Place the Nuoc Cham Sauce, Lemongrass Chili Sauce, chipotle chili and adobo sauce, kimchi, peanuts, basil, and oil in a food processor and process for about 1 minute, until coarsely blended.
Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. Or freeze in standard ice-cube trays, then transfer the cubes (about 2 tablespoons each) to plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months.
click to enlarge Bill Kim's nuoc cham sauce - JOHNNY AUTRY
  • Johnny Autry
  • Bill Kim's nuoc cham sauce
Nuoc Cham Sauce
¼ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
½ cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
2 green Thai chilies, minced, with seeds

PREP TIME 10 minutes
MAKES 1 cup
Combine the brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, water, garlic, and chilies in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months. Or freeze in standard ice-cube trays, then transfer the cubes (2 tablespoons each) to plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months.
click to enlarge Bill Kim's lemongrass chili sauce - JOHNNY AUTRY
  • Johnny Autry
  • Bill Kim's lemongrass chili sauce
Lemongrass Chili Sauce
The inspiration for this recipe came from a trip to Thailand I took a few years ago. Those sweet, spicy, citrusy flavors come right back to me every time I make it. You can use this sauce for braising chicken or for making dipping sauces or glazes for fried appetizers, but I like it best for barbecue. It’s thick enough to cling to the meat, adds a good char from all the sugars that caramelize on the grill, and delivers the spicy, fresh flavors of Thailand.

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced, peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup minced lemongrass
1 cup sweet chili sauce
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup sambal oelek
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

PREP TIME 10 minutes
MAKES 2¼ cups
Combine the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili sauce, fish sauce, sambal oelek, and oil in a bowl and whisk until blended. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months (see note).
NOTE This sauce won’t fully harden when frozen, so you can spoon out as much as you need whenever you want to use it.

click to enlarge korean_bbq_cover_image.jpg

Reprinted with permission from
Korean BBQ: Master Your Grill in Seven Sauces, copyright © 2018 by Bill Kim with Chandra Ram. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Locations

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Mike Sula

Agenda Teaser

Music
October 18
Music
Rova Saxophone Quartet Constellation
October 18

Tabbed Event Search

The Bleader Archive

Popular Stories