Friday recipe: tomato kimchi-chi

The home improvement projects I’ve been nagging my spouse to get done this summer had an unfortunate side effect: They bit into the time he could spend on his garden. (I knew I needed minions!) I should call it my garden, as he so kindly devotes plenty of space to tomatoes and peppers, two of my favorite foods.

That’s why I’m as grateful for our local farmers’ markets as I am that those home improvement projects are getting done. My love for the red and green also are why The Washington Post’s “Top Tomato” snagged my eye: For the past five years, the newspaper has invited readers to send in their favorite tomato concoctions; its faves are published in the paper. This year’s 119 entries, columnist Bonnie Benwick says, “yielded the competition’s most ethnically diverse, innovative dishes to date” – including the winning tomato kimchi-chi, submitted by Shari Saslaw of Cary, NC.

Photo: Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Described by the Post as “Latin, Asian and smoky,” Saslaw’s mixture works as a side dish or relish-like accompaniment to other dishes. This recipe makes about five and a half cups and can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

Tomato kimchi-chi

  • 5 small to medium tomatoes (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), preferably a mix of green and red ones, cored, then cut into wedges, slices or bite-size chunks
  • 6 ounces firm jicama, peeled and cut into large or bite-size chunks (about 1 cup)
  • 4 to 6 ounces daikon radish, peeled and cut into large chunks or 1/2-inch dice (1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 5 or 6 scallions, white and light-green parts, cut on the diagonal (1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons chipotle-flavored hot sauce, preferably El Yucateco
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds, preferably a mix of white and black ones (see NOTE)

Combine the tomatoes, jicama, daikon, scallions, vinegar, hot sauce (to taste) and fish sauce (to taste) in a large resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal and massage to coat evenly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. If desired, drain off some, but not all, of the liquid.

Before serving, stir in the cilantro, jalapeno and sesame seeds.

NOTE: Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for about 4 minutes, shaking the skillet to keep them from getting too browned. The sesame seeds will be fragrant. Cool before using.

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