Super Bowl

Kim Chee Dip From Sheldon Simeon

January 31, 2022
4 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Ericka Martins. Prop Stylist: Molly Fitzsimons.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Sheldon Simeon's creamy-salty-tangy dips—anytime, pantry-friendly pupus from his cookbook Cook Real Hawai‘i—are so simple and joyful, I had to give you two of them. The other is his Shoyu Dip With Sesame Crunch. Make one, make both, repeat.

As Sheldon writes of this one in Cook Real Hawai‘i, “Hawai‘i loves its kim chee (and yes, we spell it that way rather than kimchi). Jars of the briny fermented cabbage are a fridge staple here, and local grocery stores sell bottles of what’s known as kim chee base: a concentrated sweet-spicy red sauce that you can pour over any salad or poke (think seaweed, tuna, squid) to turn it 'kim chee style.'

“Kim chee also shows up as the star in kim chee dip, a common local dip that is usually served as a crowd-pleasing pupu. The basic components are chopped won bok (napa cabbage) kim chee, and a solid amount of cream cheese, which tames the punchy flavor and provides a distinct silkiness. My version at my restaurant is mostly traditional, with an extra touch of Parmesan and fried garlic for added savoriness. Depending on what brand you use (Halms, Kohala, and High Max are popular here), you might consider increasing the sweetness of your kim chee slightly to match our local ones.

“I tend to pair this dip with whatever chip is available at the corner gas station; I haven't found a bad combination yet. Try using it as a general sandwich spread, too: The iconic Hawai‘i chef Sam Choy has one recipe where he slathers it on a steak sandwich.”

A few more tips: Save the leftover garlic oil from making the microwave fried garlic for drizzling over pasta, sautéing greens, dunking bread, or frying up the easiest garlic toast ever.

Recipe adapted very slightly from Cook Real Hawai‘i (Clarkson Potter, March 2021).

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Hear more about this recipe from Sheldon himself on our podcast The Genius Recipe Tapes. Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Kim Chee Dip From Sheldon Simeon
  • For the Kim Chee Dip:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 6 ounces cabbage kim chee, roughly chopped (about ¾ cup), with juice reserved
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kochugaru (Korean chile flakes, also spelled "gochugaru"), plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fried garlic (recipe follows)
  • Wonton chips, crackers, Doritos (Cool Ranch preferred), Fritos, Tostitos, or any other available -ito, for serving
  • For the Microwave Fried Garlic:
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
  • Neutral oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Sugar
  1. For the Kim Chee Dip:
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and sour cream, adding kim chee juice as needed to achieve a smooth Velveeta-like texture. Fold in the chopped kim chee, sugar, Parmesan, lemon juice, and kochugaru. Adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar to taste. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and top with the fried garlic and an extra sprinkle of kochugaru. Serve with chips.
  1. For the Microwave Fried Garlic:
  2. Place the garlic in a microwave-safe bowl and add enough oil to cover (at least 3 tablespoons). Microwave for 1 minute, then stir. Repeat, stirring and microwaving in 30-second increments until the garlic begins to brown. Then repeat, stirring and microwaving in 15-second increments, until the garlic is deep gold. (This could take between 2 and 4 minutes total, depending on your microwave. In a sieve set over a bowl, drain the garlic, reserving the oil. Transfer the garlic to a plate lined with paper towels and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside to cool.

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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

2 Reviews

Jocelyn M. April 25, 2022
This recipe is wonderful and easy to play around with. I make it with radish kimchee in our house and am eagerly looking forward to a version with crab or bay shrimp folded in. But, as great as this dip is, the real star of the recipe is the step to fry the minced garlic in the microwave! My garlic bits are always evenly golden and perfectly crisp. It also reveals that you're making chili crisp from scratch here. With that as my lead, I combine the kochugaru, salt and sugar with the neutral oil and garlic in the microwave step and add it all to the dip.
Jocelyn M. May 23, 2022
have also been enjoying adding chopped water chestnuts to this dip. Toasted sesame works very well too. This has become a favorite base layer smeared on the bottom of tortillas or plates with a big salad built on top.