--- Learn endless cooking tips and tricks on The Cook Up with Adam Liaw which airs weeknights on SBS Food at 7.00pm and 10.00pm, or stream it free on SBS On Demand. Catch Remy Hii in the 'desert island dish' and 'from where you would rather be' episodes on 3 and 29 December respectively. ---
Everyone has a cheese toastie recipe that they love, whether it features mozzarella, haloumi, cheddar, gruyere or another cheese variety – the possibilities are endless.
Cheese toasties are not only a late-night indulgence for actor Remy Hii, but a staple after a long day at work.
"Even a bad cheese toastie is still a good thing," he tells SBS Food. "It's kind of like the pizza of easily homemade comfort dishes."
Hii adds spice and tang to his cheese toasties by pairing them with kimchi. The subtle heat of the Korean fermented cabbage plays well with the melted cheese to create what Remy believes is one of the 21st century's greatest food mash-ups.
"I love the fermented nature of the kimchi; the really funky, bright tanginess and the acidity and crunch," he says. "It is really just a perfect companion to whatever cheese you want to put on there, which is usually a lot richer and bolder and deep in flavour. It's going to offer that extra bit of texture as well."
Hii experimented with this pairing after visiting Korean-American chef Roy Troy's iconic Kogi Taqueria Truck on a trip to Los Angeles in the US.
"The fusion of Korean and Mexican was something that really blew my mind," he says. "I'd never had anything like that before and one of the standout dishes was their kimchi quesadilla."
After playing around with some ingredients, Remy recreated this crowd-pleaser in toastie form.
"I settled on a blend of kimchi, cheese, and then gochujang or gochutgaru, and even a little bit of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread to spice things up," he says.
"You can go with whatever bread you choose but not anything too hard, as you don't want to be breaking your teeth when you bite into it.
"A nice sourdough can be great but I'm absolutely not against using plain old white bread."
"Even a bad cheese toastie is still a good thing. It's kind of like the pizza of easily homemade comfort dishes."
As for his toasting method, Hii prefers using a pan rather than a sandwich press so that the bread doesn't squash.
"There's nothing worse than taking it out of the pan and realising that the cheese hasn't melted, so keep an eye on making sure that it cooks evenly," he says.
He levels up the flavour by spreading butter on the outside of the bread.
"The way that I make it now is different to how I did it a couple of months ago," Hii says. "You should never be afraid to experiment and add new and different things in. Just have fun."
Hii's infamous kimchi cheese toastie has earned him the title of designated chef among his mates.
"Me and some really good friends went camping in the desert for a week in a big RV and every morning and sometimes late at night, I cooked it for everyone," he recalls. "It was a crowd favourite. It just brings everyone together and it's a real comfort food and just makes you feel good."
With a kimchi cheese toastie in his right hand and cold beer in his left, Hii says life has never been so good.
Love the story? Follow the author Melissa Woodley here: Instagram @sporkdiaries.
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