Carbonara taught me a lot about working a saute station and the importance of a strong understanding of cooking fundamentals. This experience also helped me understand what kind of chef I would grow to be. Early on in my career, I would put people on stations not adequately trained, in over the head to sink or swim. That is how I came up, but I realized that is lousy leadership. Mentoring and helping young cooks develop their skills and build their confidence ends with a lot fewer Carbonaras in the garbage.
Anyway, this kimchi carbonara version was born out of sharing a farmers market table with a friend who makes kimchi. I love how well Italian and Asian foods work together. The natural umami of parmesan plays well with the sour, spicy, umami of kimchi. And let's face it eggs and kimchi are meant to be together. (At least, that is how I feel). How could Kimchi Carbonara not be over the top delicious?
I went a step further, and cold smoked an additional egg yolk to put on top of the dish. This addition is not necessary but adds a beautiful smoky element to the plate. I recommend hickory wood; the lighter fruit woods gets lost in the sauce. To cold smoke, the egg yolk, use a smoking gun hand smoker. Place your egg yolks in a bowl with the smoker hose, Then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. I would do this close to the oven with the fan on; it will leak some smoke. I filled the bowl with smoke three times, letting it sit about four minutes each time. The result is an egg yolk full of smoked hickory flavor.
A quick note on tempering your egg: this is where mistakes happen. By understanding the purpose and a little bit of tempering science, you are less likely to do it incorrectly and curdle your eggs. This technique is one of those fundamentals that show up time and again in many recipes. So, master this and apply it to other sauces and desserts. Tempering is gently heating the yolks before adding them to your sauce, in this case, your Carbonara. It brings the egg yolks slowly to the same temperature as the sauce and preventing it from curdling. The curdling happens because the proteins in the yolk react to the heat and bond to each other. By slowly raising the heat, it denatures the proteins, and they don't freak out and instead form a lovely smooth emulsion.
5 minutes minutes
12 minutes minutes
This kimchi carbonara with a hickory smoked egg yolk was born out of sharing a farmers market table with a friend who makes kimchi. I love how well Italian and Asian foods work together. The natural umami of parmesan plays well with the sour, spicy, umami of kimchi. And let's face it eggs and kimchi are meant to be together. (At least, that is how I feel). How could Kimchi Carbonara not be over the top delicious?
2 pieces of thick cut bacon
3 egg yolks + 2 for smoking
2 oz parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons kimchi
4 oz mafaldine
2 teaspoon sesame seed
2 teaspoon fresh chive
salt to taste
juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Gather all ingredients. Medium dice the bacon and kimchi. Separate egg yolks from whites.Bring water to a boil and salt generously.
While water is heating up, render bacon in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to keep bacon from cooking uneven or burning. Once the bacon is crispy, remove from the pan. Turn heat to low and add the kimchi and juice to the pan.
In a separate bowl, add egg yolks and parmesan cheese, whisk together.
When the water is boiling, vigorously add pasta. Stir pasta occasionally to cook evenly. About a minute before the pasta is ready, add an oz of the pasta water to the pan with the bacon fat and kimchi. Add unsalted butter to kimchi mixture and incorporate.
Add the Mafaldine to the pan and toss with the kimchi mixture; reserve half a pasta water cup.
It is time to temper your egg yolks. Start by rolling up a kitchen towel and laying it on the counter in a circle. Lay your bowl in the center of the towel. This is so you do not have to hold on to the bowl. You should be able to whisk with one and gently stream the hot pasta water in with the other. Correctly tempering your egg yolks is essential; too hot and fast, you will scramble the yolks, cold the eggs will not thicken properly.
Slowly add 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the egg yolk and parmesan mixture whisking the entire time.
Add the egg mixture and bacon to mafaldine. Toss all together; you can adjust the sauce's viscosity by adding a little more pasta water if needed. Add juice of half a lemon and season to taste, garnish with green onions and toasted sesame and serve immediately.
To level this recipe up, cold smoked two egg yolks to put one on top of each dish. Adding a smoked egg yolk is not necessary and not the most healthy choice... but it is a delicious one. To smoke, the egg yolks use a smoking gun, hand smoker. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and wrap the bowl and the smoker's hose with plastic wrap. I did three rounds of smoke using hickory wood chips, letting it sit with the smoke a couple of minutes each time.