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Meera Sodha’s Vegan Kimchi and Tomato Spaghetti Recipe with Sesame Breadcrumbs | Vegan food and drinks

kimchi has a split personality. When I eat it raw, the crunchy sourness creeps up to my eyes and closes with a shudder. It’s addictive, like sour candies. But cooked until just shy or caramelized, as in today’s recipe, the cabbage softens, releasing its inner sweetness, and the rowdy sourness softens to a point where it might just raise an eyebrow.

Kimchi and tomato spaghetti with sesame breadcrumbs

Kimchi varies greatly in quality and salt content. Buy the best you can (I like Eaten Alive and Kim Kong Kimchi) and adjust the spices to your liking. Gochugaru is Korea’s biggest favorite when it comes to chili. It smells sweet, like dried strawberries, and has a low to medium heat. Look for it at your local Asian store or online.

Preparation 5 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame
oil-plus extra to serve
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
150 g kimchi
drained and finely chopped
2 tsp gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
2 tsp agave or brown rice syrup
1 x 400 g tin of diced tomatoes
– I love Mutti’s polpa
Fine sea salt
400 grams of spaghetti

For the breadcrumbs
50 g dried breadcrumbs
15 g black sesame seeds
15 g pine nuts

Pour the canola oil and a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil into a medium saucepan over medium heat and, when hot, add the garlic and cook for two minutes until pale golden brown. Add the kimchi and stir-fry for a few minutes, until all the water is gone and the oil is visibly separated.

Stir in the gochugaru and syrup, then add the tomatoes and bring to the bell. Turn the heat to low, cover 3/4 of the way with a lid (if the sauce thickens it may start to spit) and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring irregularly, until nicely thickened. Season to taste (kimchi’s salt content varies – I used three-quarters to a teaspoon of salt).

Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs. Place the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil in a small skillet over low to medium heat and, when hot, add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts and sesame seeds and stir-fry until the breadcrumbs are crisp and golden brown. Stir in a pinch of salt and place in a bowl.

Fill a very large pot with water, season with salt (I use a teaspoon of salt per liter of water) and bring to a boil. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions and just before draining, scoop a mug of the cooking water from the pan and set aside.

Pour the drained pasta into the sauce and toss with a spaghetti spoon or tongs, adding a little pasta water if the sauce needs to be loosened. Check for spices and adjust as you see fit.

Divide the spaghetti over four places, sprinkle the sesame bread crumbs generously over it and drizzle with a little more sesame oil, if desired.

This article was updated on May 28, 2022. An earlier version incorrectly referred to “King Kong Kimchi” when referring to Kim Kong Kimchi.