Deborah Balint (@rainydaybites on Instagram) uses Tillamook cheese to create this Asian twist on a classic.
Woodinville, WA – A really good grilled cheese sandwich is the quintessential comfort food. It is simple, quick to make, and everyone loves all that melted cheese and crunchy buttery bread! A grilled cheese sandwich is probably one of the first things you learned to make as a child, and as an adult, eating one brings back memories of home and simpler times. I’ve taken that childhood classic comfort food and elevated it to a flavor-packed adult sandwich by using creamy Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Medium White Cheddar Slices and topping it with spicy, tangy kimchi, earthy smoky shiitake mushrooms, bright vibrant green onions, and aromatic bits of garlic. Of course, the best grilled cheese sandwiches are loaded with cheese, so this sandwich features not one, but two slices of melted Tillamook White Cheddar. Double the cheddar for double the tasty, cheesy goodness! This is the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich!
Of course, the best grilled cheese sandwiches are loaded with cheese, so this sandwich features not one, but two slices of melted Tillamook Medium White Cheddar.”
A grilled cheese sandwich is only as good as its ingredients, and it all starts with the best cheese, because, after all, it’s a cheese sandwich! Tillamook Farmstyle Thick Cut Medium White Cheddar Slices are aged for over 60 days and are cut thicker for better melt and more flavor. This makes it the ideal cheese for a grilled cheese sandwich! Tillamook takes their time to naturally age their cheese giving it an ultra creamy texture and full bodied flavor. The thick slices ensure you get loads of cheese in every single bite. The flavor of this cheese pairs perfectly with spicy kimchi and gives this sandwich the perfect flavor balance between spicy and velvety smooth creamy cheese.
If you haven’t tried kimchi before, head to the store and pick up a jar. Kimchi is a spicy and tangy, boldly flavored Korean side dish that is typically made from fermented cabbage, Korean chili peppers, garlic, onions, carrots, and fish sauce. I tried it for the first time a few years back, and ever since then I’ve added it to so many dishes. It’s perfect for when you want a punch of bold spicy Asian flavor. So, when I was craving a childhood grilled cheese, I thought why not put the two together? The kimchi stays nice and crunchy, which gives a great texture contrast against the creamy melted cheese. The spicy, tangy flavor pairs perfectly with the creamy mild tones of Tillamook Medium White Cheddar, which tame the heat of the fermented kimchi. Feel free to use a mild kimchi if you aren’t a fan of spicy food. Shiitake mushrooms are one of my favorite mushrooms. They are incredibly popular in Asian cooking, and for good reason. They add an earthy, meaty, and smoky flavor to dishes. Just be sure to cut their stems off, as they can get a bit tough when cooked. While they may be too tough to eat, they still have a lot of flavor in them, so don’t throw them away! Use the stems to flavor stocks and soups. I make a mix here with the sautéed mushrooms, adding in bright green onions that are cooked until slightly golden on the edges, which give them a bit of smoky onion-y flavor. A few cloves of garlic add that little bit of sharp aromatic flavor. This mushroom mix is so good, I could eat it by itself!
This sandwich truly is all about the layering of flavors! Each slice of buttery toasted bread is topped with melted creamy Tillamook White Cheddar Slices. The cheesy slice of bread is then topped with spicy, crunchy kimchi, meaty, smoky, bright mushroom/onion/garlic mix, and finally, another slice of cheese and buttery bread. All these great smoky, spicy, tangy, creamy, crunchy ingredients mean each bite is loaded with tasty bold flavors and great texture contrasts.
This sandwich is so easy to make, and like the childhood classic, it requires only one pan, is ready in minutes, and packs so much flavor! Make sure you cook the sandwich over medium low heat so that the cheese melts and the bread doesn’t get too brown. I would absolutely recommend using good rustic sourdough bread (about the same size as the cheese slices), as its hearty texture holds up to the fillings better than white bread. Great bread needs great butter, so I use Tillamook Sweet Cream Unsalted Butter, which creates a beautifully golden crunchy bread with so much rich buttery flavor. The great thing about this sandwich is you can add in whatever you like! I love my mushroom mix, but you could do shredded chicken breast, an over-easy egg, braised pork, shaved carrots, kale, or any other veggies you have on hand! This sandwich is super versatile!
If you love the flavor of this filling, here’s a quick and fun suggestion for leftovers if you are cooking for one. (You could also just double the filling so you have extra!) Add your leftovers to a warm skillet with a bit of Tillamook Unsalted Butter, and once the filling is warm, add a couple scrambled eggs and two slices of Tillamook White Cheddar Slices. Cook until the eggs set and the cheese melts for the ultimate Asian-inspired breakfast. So tasty! See the link below for the complete recipe and instructions. Let’s get cooking and make this sandwich!