The road to dinner may be paved with good intentions (something healthy), bad intentions (something naughty), but most frequently it’s paved with whatever you have lying around. And in my case, a few days ago, that happened to be kimchi and rice. The rice I keep with the pasta and polenta as an always-on-hand base for dinner–at the very least I can always make rice and beans, pasta with nutmeg and butter, and polenta with cheese if all else fails. Sometimes, though, I have an ingredient that pairs perfectly with a base–like broccoli rabe last week, which paired perfectly with penne–and, this week, kimchi which goes very well with rice.
Kimchi is a new ingredient to me. I mean, I’ve always been aware of it–it’s the Korean version of fermented cabbage with lots of spices and heat (that’s why it’s so fiery red)–but I’ve never purchased it or cooked with it at home. But then I met my dad last week for lunch at Katz’s Deli and we walked off our pastrami sandwiches by journeying north from the Lower East Side to Union Square where we hit upon the farmer’s market. And there, at a little stand, was this homemade kimchi in little plastic containers:
I’m pretty confident that my dad has never consumed kimchi in his entire life and he viewed my purchase of it curiously, as if I’d just bought a t-shirt that said, “Shmeep shmoop shmeep shmoop.”
But I brought the kimchi home, put it in my fridge and wasn’t sure how I’d use it. I even e-mailed David Lebovitz about it because he’s written before about kimchi (he’s even made his own) and he said:
“Kimchi is good on it’s own, with a bowl of rice and sliced chicken, shrimp, maybe a few pickles, and a fried egg on top. But it’s also great to make fried rice with (use day-old rice for best results) and chop it, and stir it in towards the end.”
That second option–kimchi fried rice–sounded quite appealing the other night when I had no motivation whatsoever to leave my apartment. So I did some more research online and came up with the following recipe; I would’ve put a fried egg on top, but I had an omelet for lunch that day and wasn’t feeling too eggy. But an egg would’ve been nice if I hadn’t felt eggy.
Kimchi Fried Rice
adapted from various recipes online
1. Cook 1 cup of white rice to yield 3 cups of cooked rice. (Follow the directions on your carton of rice.)
2. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and chop up one container of kimchi (about 2 cups):
3. Put 1 or 2 Tbs of canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil in a non-stick pan or a wok (if you have it) and heat; add the garlic early so it infuses the oil:
4. Just before the garlic turns brown, add all the kimchi:
5. Stir it around and let it cook a bit. After a minute or two, add the rice:
6. Stir that all around and let cook until the rice gets caramelized in spots.
7. This is the time to taste it and adjust the seasonings. I added a bunch of soy sauce here and you might want to do the same. Stir it up and serve.
Wasn’t that easy? Even my dad might like it. To quote a great t-shirt, “Shmeep shmoop shmeep shmoop.”