When people think of southern food they normally think about super heavy, fatty, artery-clogging feasts. While in many cases that is extremely far from the truth there are dishes where that is exactly the case.
Exhibit A: pimento cheese. Pimento cheese is one of those old school southern dishes that seemed to be a bigger hit with my parent’s and their parent’s generations than my own. The dish classically consists of cream cheese, mayonnaise, chopped roasted red peppers, and a mess of cheddar. You know, a light snack.
While all those ingredients can be tasty, in my opinion pimento cheese typically can feel a little heavy and like an old dish trapped in a time warp.
Then one day at my favorite local brewery my boyfriend and I were splitting some pimento cheese to go with our beers. For some reason I could not stop thinking that the strands of cheese and pops of red color floating in the sea of mayonnaise and cream cheese looked like a kani (crab) salad that you could find in a sushi restaurant. Then the thought hit me: What if pimento cheese could taste like kani salad? And thus this recipe was born.
Instead of expecting dairy to do all the work in flavoring this dish I punched it up with sesame oil, soy sauce, and a heap of sriracha to bring bright, Asian flavors to a southern staple.
This is basically a one step recipe with a tiny amount of prep work to it. The beauty of pimento cheese is that there is no work, but a ton of potential uses. Classically in the south it is used as a sandwich filling (see above), or used as a dip that is great for entertaining. If you are feeling extra frisky try putting it on top of a burger. For one shining moment everything in life will be beautiful.
- 12 oz package cream cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (even better if you can find kewpie mayo)
- 1 cup roughly chopped roasted red peppers (find them in the pickle section)
- 3 cups grated cheddar cheese (the thicker the strands the better)
- At least 2 tbsp sriracha
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- A fat pinch of salt
Mix everything together in a large bowl until well combined. Put on everything. Devour.