Recipe: Kimchi-Marinated Steak Sandwich

Last weekend, I was watching cooking shows on PBS. One of my favorite chefs, Ming Tsai, came on. Along with a guest, he ad-libbed a dish that looked absolutely phenomenal: a kimchi marinated cheesesteak sandwich.

I didn’t write down the recipe; I just took the idea, and ran with it. I mean come on, what could be better than a well-seared medium-rare flank steak with kimchi and Tallegio? My version is, I think, a bit lighter than what they made, but it’s not exactly a light snack!

For my tastes, this is an amazing combination. Start with flank steak, which is one of my favorite cuts of beef. It’s not the tenderest piece of beef, so it needs some work, but it’s got an absolutely fantastic flavor, and as long as you prepare it properly, don’t overcook it, and slice it thin, it comes out great.

Then you’ve got kimchi. I only discovered kimchi fairly recently, and I absolutely love the stuff, and I’m always looking for more things to eat it with.

Finally, tallegio cheese. I adore soft cheeses, and tallegio is probably the nicest soft cheese that I’ve had from Italy. It’s very creamy, with a nice funkiness to it, but not an overpowering stinkiness.

Put all three of those together in a sandwich, and I’m in heaven.


  • One largish (1 1/2 pound) flank steak.
  • 1/2 cup kimchi, finely minced, plus 1 tablespoon of
    the liquid from the kimchi.
  • Some more kimchi, left whole.
  • salt and pepper
  • one teaspoon sugar.
  • one half of a large onion, cut into thin slices.
  • 1/2 pound tallegio cheese.
  • Bagette.

One note about the ingredients: I recently made homemade kimchi for the first time. It’s really easy to make, and it is really a totally different thing from the stuff out of a jar. I don’t see why it’s so different: kimchi is a fermented preserved cabbage, which is exactly the kind of thing that should be really easy to make in quantity, and then sell in jars. But the fact is, nothing from the store remotely compares to homemade. I basically used this recipe, except that I couldn’t get any daikon, so I left that out.


  1. Take a couple of forks, and go up and down the steak, poking holes. Don’t be lazy: the more you do this, the better. You’re tenderizing the meat, and making a way for the marinade to help penetrate.
  2. Salt the meat generously, then coat both sides with the minced kimchi. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Scrape the kimchi off the steak, but do not throw it away. We’re going to cook it, and use it as a topping.
  4. Heat a cast-iron pan on high heat until it’s smoking hot.
  5. Sprinkle half the sugar and some more salt and pepper onto the top of the steak, and then put the sugared side down in the pan, for about 3 minutes. While it’s cooking on that side, put the rest of the sugar and salt onto the other side. Then turn it over, and cook the other side for 3 minutes.
  6. Transfer the steak into a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes. (I did eight; it was exactly the way I like it, nice and medium rare, but I think a lot of people would prefer it a bit more well done. Take it out after the ten minutes, and leave it alone for a while. Don’t slice it immediately!
  7. While the steak is resting, heat up a pan, and add some oil. Toss in the onions with a bit of salt, and stir them around. When they just start to turn brown, add in the kimchi and any liquid left from the marinade, and turn down the heat. Cook it for about five minutes, adding a bit of water if it gets too dry.
  8. Slice the break in half, and spread a thin layer of the taleggio cheese over both halves.
  9. Slice the steak on a bias against the grain into thin slices.
  10. Take any drippings from slicing the steak, and pour them into the onions and kimchi.
  11. Put a heap of steak slices onto the bread, and then put a pile of the cooked onions and kimchi, and then a piece of fresh uncooked kimchi on top.
  12. Close up the sandwich, and eat!

Philadelphia, eat your heart out. Your cheesesteaks got nothing on this!

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