Cheesy, Savory Oatmeal with Kimchi

published May 11, 2023
Cheesy, Savory Oatmeal with Kimchi Recipe

Traditional oatmeal gets upgraded with scallions, kimchi, garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce and has two types of cheese.

ServesServes 1 to 2

Prep5 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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An overhead view of a white speckled stoneware bowl with savory kimchi oatmeal covered in melted cheese and scallions on a light blue surface.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

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My first taste of oatmeal came from a Quaker instant oat packet. It had an unpleasant, mushy texture with a rather sweet-yet-bland taste that immediately turned me off.

Growing up in Korea, I was used to breakfasts that featured freshly made rice, warm soup, and at least four different types of banchan. As a child, I rarely had an appetite early in the morning, but once I had a whiff of grilled mackerel and bubbling kimchi jjigae coming from the kitchen, my stomach woke up.

I didn’t know there were specific American breakfast foods like waffles and oatmeal until I came to the U.S. At least pancakes come drenched in maple syrup, but bland oats? No, thanks! So, I avoided oatmeal at all costs for a long time until I came across savory oats in my adulthood.

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: James Park

When I first tried savory oats, I realized the problem wasn’t the oats; the problem was me! This time around, I made them so much better. I seasoned the oats with soy sauce instead of sugar,  used chicken broth or miso broth to cook oats, and topped it with spicy, crunchy kimchi

Oatmeal is a lot like congee (also known as jook), a blank canvas where you can add whatever flavors your heart desires. And, out of the many variations I’ve made, I always go for this cheesy, savory oatmeal with kimchi because no matter how empty my fridge is, I always have these pantry ingredients on hand to whip up this dish.

First, I sauté sliced onion, kimchi, and garlic in scallion-infused oil to concentrate their flavors. Then, the oats enter the flavor party in the pot and get seasoned with umami-rich soy sauce and nutty, toasted sesame oil. When I want to be extra, I top the oatmeal with a soft-boiled egg, but most mornings, I crack an egg directly into the oatmeal and mix it in, which makes the oatmeal delightfully fluffy. 

As far as finishing touches go, the wonderfully salty combination of Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese takes this savory oatmeal to the next level. It’s hearty, spicy, cheesy, and so delicious — even my Korean parents, who have never tried oats, loved it! And let’s be honest, that’s the ultimate seal of approval. 

Cheesy, Savory Oatmeal with Kimchi Recipe

Traditional oatmeal gets upgraded with scallions, kimchi, garlic, sesame oil, and soy sauce and has two types of cheese.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves Serves 1 to 2

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3

    medium scallions, plus more for garnish

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 1/2 cup

    drained Napa cabbage kimchi

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as vegetable

  • 1 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1/2 cup

    old-fashioned rolled oats

  • 1 cup

    water

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 1

    large egg

  • 1 tablespoon

    grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 cup

    low-moisture shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Chili crisp, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Thinly 3 slice medium scallions (about 1/2 cup), plus more for garnish if desired. Dice 1/2 medium onion (about 1/2 cup). Cut 1/2 cup drained kimchi into bite-sized pieces. Mince 2 garlic cloves.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic, onion, and kimchi. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kimchi softens and lightly browns, 4 to 6 minutes.

  3. Add 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats and stir to combine. Add 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the oats absorb most of the liquid and look like porridge, 4 to 6 minutes.

  4. Crack 1 large egg into the oatmeal and stir until the egg is cooked and incorporated into the oatmeal, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat. Add 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese and stir to combine.

  5. Transfer the oatmeal to a bowl. Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine, letting the residual heat of the oatmeal melt the cheese. Alternatively, transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, top with the cheese, and microwave until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Garnish with chili crisp and more chopped scallions if desired.