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Kimchi Quesadilla with Salsa Roja

On a trip to Los Angeles, Chef Jo fell in love with the plethora of food available in the city's varied trucks. Kogi BBQ's Kimchi Quesadillas, a hybrid of Korean and Mexican cuisine, were a definite favorite and she couldn't wait to clean them up! Naturally, accolades followed...

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Edward Pond

NOTE: Reserve remaining 1 cup Salsa Roja for future use or serve on the side with baked tortilla chips for dipping.


Thanks to this spicy fusion dish, Chef Jo was voted in as Toronto’s Hottest Chef in 2012! Her Kimchi Quesadilla recipe was also reprinted in the Toronto Star newspaper, where it was then granted a Golden Whisk award as one of the ten best recipes of 2011! The tangy dish is inspired by one of the most sought-after meals at Chef Roy Choi’s Kogi food trucks. Considered the Godfather of food trucks, Kogi operates five trucks in the Los Angeles area, serving up Korean-Mexican fusion with attitude.

Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
20 min
45 min


  • 4 medium green tomatillos
  • 6 medium plum tomatoes
  • 10 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium tamari
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh ginger, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups kimchi cabbage, strained, and 2 tbsp liquid reserved, divided
  • 4 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 10-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese


  1. Prepare Salsa Roja: Place oven rack in top third of oven and preheat broiler to high. Arrange tomatillos and tomatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil until blistered and lightly blackened, turning once, about 18 minutes total. Transfer tomatillos, tomatoes and juices from sheet to a medium saucepan. Add chiles, onion, 2 cloves garlic, tamari, 2 tsp ginger, reserved kimchi liquid and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick sauté pan on medium heat, toast sesame seeds until light brown and fragrant, shaking pan continuously, about 4 minutes. Remove seeds from pan and set aside.
  3. With a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl, drain tomato-chile mixture, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. In a blender, combine tomato-chile solids and reserved 1/2 cup tomato-chile liquid and purée until almost smooth. Transfer back to empty medium bowl and stir in oil, 3 tsp sesame seeds and salt. Cover and refrigerate until needed. (Mixture will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks.)
  4. Heat pan on medium-high. Mist with cooking spray, add remaining 1 clove garlic, remaining 1 tsp ginger, Napa cabbage and 2 tbsp water. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until cabbage is wilted. Add kimchi and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and wilted, about 8 more minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and wash pan.
  5. Lay tortillas on a flat surface. Top half of each tortilla with cilantro, cheddar, mozzarella and kimchi mixture, dividing evenly. Fold each tortilla to create a half-circle and press gently to flatten. Mist both sides of quesadillas with cooking spray. Return pan to medium heat. Working in batches, place quesadillas in pan and cook, turning once, until tortillas are golden and cheese is melted, about 4 minutes total. Transfer tortillas to a cutting board and let sit for about 2 minutes. Cut each tortilla into 4 wedges and drizzle each with 2 tsp Salsa Roja. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp sesame seeds.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 2 wedges and 4 t salsa roja
  • Calories 237
  • Carbohydrate Content 25 g
  • Cholesterol Content 6 mg
  • Fat Content 6 g
  • Fiber Content 3 g
  • Protein Content 11 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Sodium Content 754 mg
  • Sugar Content 4 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 0 g