Roy Choi Wants You to Cook with Kombucha
It’s 2018, so it’s very likely that you’re already into kombucha. The tart and fizzy drink is just as delightful solo as it is mixed into a cocktail. But if you’re only consuming kombucha as a beverage, you’re missing out, because using kombucha in recipes beyond the glass makes for some extremely exciting food.
“I probably drink kombucha once or twice a week,” chef Roy Choi, creator of the Korean taco truck, Kogi, among many other projects, told me recently at Extra CrispyHQ. “I like the taste, but I also use it for equilibrium.” Choi, who partnered with KeVita to develop a few recipes with kombucha, actually had already been experimenting with using kombucha in food when he was approached by the brand. “I would normally just drink it, but I would add it to a cold noodle dish or a sorbet sort of rudimentarily,” he said.
As he became more comfortable using kombucha in food, Choi began to think of the drink the way some home cooks might treat wine in the kitchen. “Cooks will deglaze the pan and then finish the bottle. I think you could look at kombucha the same way. Use this to make the miso vinaigrette and then drink whatever’s left.” Choi mused. “Those who are already drinking kombucha regularly would just down this. But for those who aren’t, this is a great way to find their rhythm with the beverage.”
Speaking of vinaigrette, Choi emphasized that those who are beginning to experiment with kombucha in recipes should also think of the drink as an acid—a major component when it comes to making food taste bright and alive. Instead of just using acids like vinegar or citrus juice, Choi incorporated kombuchas into dressings for sweet and savory dishes, like a rice bowl with vegetables and a fried egg, and a salad with fresh strawberries. Choi also managed to work kombucha into another fermented food you probably know and love, kimchi. He added depth to his potent kimchi paste with a splash of pineapple peach kombucha,
Of course it’s already clear that kombucha makes a delightful base for a drink, but Choi’s adaptation was too good not to share. He mixed lime-mint-coconut kombucha with plain yogurt, making a just slightly effervescent and unbelievably refreshing beverage, sort of like kefir—though he noted a splash of rum certainly wouldn’t be wasted in this.