Eric Kim's picnic-perfect Kimchi Sandwiches — plus everything else he'd pack for the occasion

'This is a very simple sandwich—as the best ones often are,' from his cookbook, Korean American.

'This is a very simple sandwich—as the best ones often are,' from his cookbook, Korean American

closeup on the torso of a man wearing a floral sweater and pink pants sitting outside at a picnic, holding a kimchi sandwich
(Photography by Jenny Huang)

This recipe comes to us from Eric Kim’s best selling cookbook, Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home. Kim loves the idea of these sandwiches for a picnic — so do we! And we were curious about what else he'd pack in his picnic basket to round out the spread, so we asked him. “I would make the gamja salad from the meatloaf kalbi recipe. It travels well and tastes wonderful as a picnic side. The two kimbap recipes also travel well and are great hand food (there’s a cheeseburger flavor and a garlicky maple-candied Spam flavor). The sesame-soy deviled eggs would be fab with this spread.” More reasons to turn to his cookbook for picnic planning this summer.

Kimchi Sandwiches

By Eric Kim

My cousin Semi remembers eating kimchi sandwiches on family picnics. The funny thing is, I don’t remember these at all, and neither does her mom, my Aunt Georgia. But according to Semi, Aunt Georgia always brought sandwiches made of chopped kimchi stuffed between two slices of white bread, and the kids would eat them. I loved this image so much that I tried the sandwich myself . . . and it was interesting! (Sorry, Aunt Georgia.)

The idea still intrigued me, though. One of my favorite sandwiches is bread-and-butter pickles with butter on soft, white sandwich bread. So I tried this with kimchi and butter. Though it was a little better, I found that the tang of mayonnaise worked best with the fermented flavors of the filling, made even more complex and delicious when balanced with sugar and a splash of sesame oil. This is a very simple sandwich—as the best ones often are.


  • 1 cup finely chopped drained napa cabbage kimchi, store-bought or homemade
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 slices soft white sandwich bread


In a small bowl, stir together the kimchi, sugar, and sesame oil. Spread the mayonnaise on two slices of bread. Divide the kimchi mixture between the two slices and top with the remaining bread slices. Cut off the crusts (optional) and slice the sandwiches in half before packing for lunch or eating.

Makes 2 sandwiches.

Reprinted from Korean American. Copyright © 2022 Eric Kim. Photographs copyright © 2022 Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.

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