Putting the Crack in Cracklings

By Amelia Schwartz | Jaclyn Warren


Amelia Schwartz
Jaclyn Warren
Kimchi Queso Dip, Pork Crackling, and Sweet Potato Chips
Kimchi Queso Dip, Pork Crackling, and Sweet Potato Chips

At 50-seat Foxister in the Mission, Chef-Proprietor Brandon Kirksey goes through 10 pounds of Niman Ranch pork skin a week. The skins are boiled, scraped, dehydrated, and fried. How else are you supposed to scoop up the kimchi queso, if not with cracklings?

After plenty trips to K-towns in Oakland and L.A. as well as a trek to Seoul where he was surprised to find queso was trending, Kirksey borrowed a buddy’s recipe for queso, tweaked it, added kimchi, and threw it on his opening menu, next to a pile of cracklings—like it was nothing. Now, more than a year later, kimchi queso is still on the menu, and never coming off. 

“We make it silky smooth by using a couple of sodium’s. Even when it goes cold, it won’t turn into a block, like Velveeta,” say Kirksey. In addition to milk and a mixture of jack and cheddar cheeses, he adds sodium citrate and sodium hexametaphosphate to the queso, resulting in a permanent velvety texture that you could coat a Slip ’n Slide in and have at it—weeeeeeeee! 

Kirksey makes a dozen different kinds of kimchi at Foxsister. For his queso he uses Napa cabbage kimchi. The hot stuff is garnished with gochugaru, green onion, and jalapeño before hitting the table.

The Scientifically Tested, 100% Accurate, Only Way to Eat Foxsister’s Kimchi Queso:

  1. Choose your delivery method: The queso comes with pork cracklings and sweet potato chips. There is no wrong choice, but the right choice is cracklings, which provide that ka-runch before melting in your mouth.
  2. Dip your scooper: Go deep to collect a generous portion of kimchi. Pull away, hooking a jalapeño slice on your way out and up.
  3. Don’t be graceful: Take a big ole bite. Let the queso drip down your chin. Embrace the mess. 
  4. Rinse with a swig of soju slushie or sake from the tap (yes, you should have already ordered a slushie or sake). 
  5. Repeat.
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