Kimchi. Peanut Butter. In between two fluffy pieces of white bread. Few other flavor combinations have tickled me as much as this surprisingly satisfying (and satisfyingly surprising) kimchi and peanut butter sando. At first, this might seem like a puzzling dish, making your taste buds go haywire even before you even take a bite. But just like sweet and sour pork, Filipino sinigang, or even infamous TikTok treat Jell-O grapes, this kimchi and peanut butter sandwich has that culinary harmony between sweet, savory, and sour, with the interplay between the three amplifying the flavor of the base ingredients.
The dish itself is simple—cook down cabbage kimchi until dry, then squish it, along with a good slather of peanut butter, in between two slices of soft white bread. This is great on its own, but to amp up the flavor even more, I gave it a few extra embellishments. Instead of just plain chunky peanut butter, I added a little knob of doenjang, the Korean fermented soybean paste, lending its umami depth to the sweet peanut butter. Then, to help the bread adhere to the kimchi, and also to round out the flavor of the sandwich, I whisked up a gochujang mayo by mixing together, well, gochujang and mayo! Just like butter on bread, the mayo helps temper the acidity of the kimchi while simultaneously adding a touch of richness to the bread.
You can layer the gochujang mayo, kimchi, and doenjang peanut butter any way you like, but I like to brush both pieces of bread with the mayo, spoon the doenjang peanut butter on one side, then go ham on the kimchi, stacking it high on the bread. My philosophy, potentially flawed as it may be, is that the more difficult it is to hold a sandwich without the insides slopping out onto your hands, the better it will taste. That way, you get more bang for your buck, more kimchi in each bite, and more peanut butter coating the roof of your mouth as the kimchi acidity tickles your tongue below. You’ll be singing the praises of this surprising sando in no time.
The sandwiches can be eaten immediately while the kimchi is still warm, but also keeps well in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. —Jun
Watch This Recipe
Kimchi & Peanut Butter Sando
1 1/2 cups
(240 grams) cabbage kimchi (firmly packed, juices drained), roughly chopped
(45 grams) sweetened chunky peanut butter
(5 grams) doenjang
(3 grams) gochujang
(30 grams) mayonnaise, preferably Japanese-style like Kewpie
slices brioche or shokupan, crusts cut off if preferred
Place the kimchi in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until most of the juice has evaporated and the kimchi is dry, 4 to 6 minutes. When done, take the skillet off the heat.
In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter and doenjang with a spatula or spoon until combined.
In another small bowl, mix the gochujang and mayonnaise together until smooth.
To assemble the sandwich, lay the bread on a cutting board, then divide the gochujang mayo between the slices. Pile half of the cooked kimchi onto one slice of bread, spread half of the doenjang peanut butter on the other, then smoosh them together into one sandwich. Slice the sandwich in half if desired (though this can make things messy). Repeat with the remaining bread, kimchi, and doenjang peanut butter.
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