Spicy Korean chile flakes and pungent garlic, ginger and fish sauce may seem like an overpowering match for figs, but the fruit holds its own. Slightly under-ripe fruit works just as well as super-ripe specimens, although the latter will produce more syrup to coat the figs after chilling in the fridge for a day. Serve the kimchi on its own or as you would any type of kimchi as a side to steamed vegetables or fish with a bowl of warm white rice.
Trim the stems from the figs. Cut each fig lengthwise in quarters, stopping one-third of the way above the base to leave the fig connected at the bottom. Stand all the figs up on a cutting board.
Using a Microplane set over a medium bowl, finely grate the garlic and ginger into the bowl. Add the chile flakes, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame seeds and sugar. Thinly slice the dark green parts of the scallions on a diagonal; transfer to a bowl, cover and reserve in the refrigerator. Finely mince the remaining light green and white parts of the scallions, then add to the bowl with the chile powder and stir into a wet paste. Taste the paste to check if it needs more seasoning. If the paste is a little thick, use soy sauce to loosen it while adding more seasoning. If it’s already the proper consistency, use kosher salt.
Using your fingers, open one fig like a flower and spoon in about ½ teaspoon of the chile paste. Using the blade of the spoon, press the paste into each axis of the fig quadrants, then gently coax the quarters of the fig back into their original shape as best as you can. Repeat stuffing the remaining figs with the remaining chile paste.
You can serve these immediately or transfer them to a shallow storage container, arranging them in snug layers. Refrigerate for at least 1 day, to allow the flavors to mingle, or up to 2 weeks.
When ready to serve, transfer some of the figs to a bowl and sprinkle with the reserved sliced scallion greens and drizzle with some soy sauce, if you like.
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