Friday, August 8, 2014

Kimchi Fried Rice: I Dare You Not to Crave This

I am lucky enough to work alongside a large host of food lovers. As such, I get to hear about a variety of favorite dishes to cook and eat. Lately, after a heated debate about Korean cold noodles (...pun somewhat intended), I found myself overcome by an insatiable craving for kimchi.

Insatiable, that is, until my Korean friends tipped me off to their favorite take on the vegetable, kimchi fried rice.

Oh yeah. This is good looking kimchi.

Kimchi, for those not yet enraptured, is a spicy, pungent, fermented vegetable side popular in Korean cooking. It is most commonly available using Napa Cabbage, although the fermenting technique can also be applied to radishes, cucumbers and so on. It is served alongside Korean barbecue, in the form of stews and soups, and even in pancakes. It has a taste uniquely its own and dangerously addicting.

So, pairing this hearty, spicy ingredient with the already-indulgent notion of fried rice is pretty much a recipe for a late night craving. Plus, being solely familiar with the Chinese variety, I was more than happen to have my mind opened by this new variety.

The gals at work spoke of how, while each cook tends to have their own special take on the kimchi fried rice preparation, it typically includes leftover white rice, scallions, bacon/pork belly/SPAM (yes, SPAM!) and, of course, kimchi, sautéed in sesame oil and seasoned with Korean seasonings and soy sauce. It is often topped with a fried egg (as if it couldn't get more tantalizing).

From an entertaining angle, this is an amazing dish to have in one's arsenal lest you have last minute weeknight dinners. This is also a handy recipe to double if you are serving a big group, as the ingredients are very cost-effective. It looks lovely in a big serving dish, and you can lay out additional condiments (sriracha, sambal, additional green onions, etc.) in small, passable bowls for a more interactive component.

So, how do we make this?

Start with finely diced sweet onion, garlic and green onion.

...and some chopped kimchi. Try not to eat all of it before the cooking begins.

Cook five slices of chopped bacon in a pan...

...until nice and crispy. Remove from pan and set aside on a paper towel.

Drain some of the fat, add a touch of sesame oil and cook the onions and garlic in the fat until translucent.

Add kimchi and bacon back to the pan, and cook for several minutes.

Add your sauce ingredients of choice - in this case, I used a smokey-colored Korean red pepper powder, soy sauce, black pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Add rice and green onions and cook for several minutes. This can easily be eaten at this stage...

...UNLESS you want to top with a fried egg. Mmm, you should do this.

Serve rice into bowls, top with an egg and sriracha (if so desired). Enjoy!

Does your kimchi fried rice recipe differ? Comment below!

Kimchi Fried Rice

Adapted from Food Wanderings in Asia

Serves 4 (or 3 very hungry people)

For the sauce:

1 tbsp Korean red pepper powder (Note: The original recipe calls for red pepper paste, but I had this on-hand)
1 tbsp soy sauce
Pinch of sugar
Black pepper, to taste

For the rice:

5 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Kimchi, chopped
3 green onions, white and green parts, chopped
2 cup cooked rice


2 eggs
1 tbsp butter, for frying egg

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside to let the flavors merge.

Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, and cook, stirring, until crisp. This will take several minutes. Once crispy, remove and set aside. Drain half of the bacon fat, and add the sesame oil.

Add the sweet onion and garlic to the pan and cook several minutes, until translucent. Stir occasionally so the garlic doesn't burn.

Add bacon back to the pan, plus the kimchi. Sauté for several minutes, stirring, until everything is heated through. Add green onions, rice, and sauce. Stir well, until there are no lumps. Once everything is well-combined, cook for several more minutes to let everything fuse.

Serve in a bowl topped with a fried egg and sriracha (if desired).

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