Alibi V.17 No.6 • Feb 7-13, 2008 


Automatic Dinner

Our innate drive to spend three hours cooking after eight hours working has been stunted lately. We’ve been making lots of quick-fix meals of late, and this one was at the top of the list.

This recipe was inspired by the dregs of a jar of kimchee on the verge of spoilage and an elemental desire for umami. The dish requires little prep time and can be made in less than 20 minutes. The two more obscure items, shiso leaves and shimeji (or beech) mushrooms, can be found at most Asian grocers.

Kimchee Shimeji


2 leeks, cleaned, roots and tips removed
8 ounces shimeji mushrooms
10 baby green or black tomatoes, quartered
4 cloves of garlic, papery skins removed, diced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup napa cabbage kimchee, minced
1/4 cup kimchee brine
8 shiso leaves
2 tablespoons soy sauce

1) Heat a medium sauté pan on high heat. Slice the leeks in half from top to bottom and rinse with cold water. When you've washed out all the dirt and sand, make one incision from top to bottom of each half-stalk, then slice horizontally into strips as thin as you can. Throw the leeks in the dry pan.

2) Snip the ends off of your shimejis, using kitchen shears or a paring knife, and rinse them under cold water. Pat them dry with towels and throw them in with the leeks. Dry sauté until the mushrooms are browning and releasing their juices.

3) Add the tomatoes, garlic, sesame oil, minced kimchee and sauté together to combine.

4) After all the contents of the pan are nice and hot, about 3 minutes, add the kimchee juice and cook until the juice is almost completely gone, about 3 more minutes.

5) Fan out the shiso leaves on the plates you plan on using. Spoon a concise pile of the sautéed veggies onto each set of leaves. The heat from the cooked food will cause the leaves to release some of their wonderful perfume.

6) Return the pan to the flame and add the soy sauce. Cook until a viscous sauce remains. Garnish plates with the sauce.

Soundtrack: Boris' Vein