Have you ever had kimchi fried rice? For reasons unknown to me, I was hesitant to make this dish. I think it was because I thought I couldn’t work with fermented foods. I’ve eaten kimchi quite a few times before and loved it. In fact, banchan, the little dishes that accompany a Korean meal, are my favorite part of the meal. Plus, I would go so far as to say that kimchi is my favorite fermented food. But, could I handle working with fermented food?
As it turns out, yes! Kimchi doesn’t bite and kimchi fried rice is amazing and easy. Oh so easy. I worked up the “courage” because kimchi is sold at my farmers market as is kimchi fried rice. So, I not only had tried their kimchi before, but I tasted the complete dish. It gave my confidence a boost. Plus, the vendors are encouraging and helpful. I can’t wait to tell them about this success.
The recipe for this dish comes from Jet Tila’s 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die, and quite honestly, I want to cook this book. You know how you tab every page in a cookbook because you want to make everything? Well, I had gotten this book from the library and was putting post its on each page to return back to, so I bought it instead.
I made two changes to the recipe though, the first was to fry the eggs instead of scrambling it for the fried rice a la the farmers market. And not only did I fry it – I fried it in bacon fat. The best way to fry an egg. —-So Alice Waters, she of the egg spoon, and all the folks who wax on about olive oil fried eggs…. you’re wrong! I say that lovingly, but I mean it. Fry your eggs in bacon grease and you will not want to fry it any other way. You may die at 50, but dang will you be happy. So maybe only fry your eggs in bacon grease for special meals.
The other change I made was to incorporate some veggies, inspired by a Pinch of Yum. I thinly matchsticked two small (local!) carrots and added in some frozen cauliflower and peas. The additions aren’t traditional as I’ve had it, but they’re delicious, up your veggie quota, and help lighten up your carb load.
I served this rice with bacon, because that’s how they do it at the farmers market – for breakfast – but bacon is permissible at any time of day. I think most locals here would incorporate chopped meat into the fried rice and it would more likely be spam, Chinese sausage, or Portuguese sausage….. but I’m a bacon girl. Crispy, not flaccid.
The heat and intensity of kimchi varies by maker. The kimchi I used was hot but not overly so. Feel free to add or subtract the amount of kimchi in your fried rice…. but don’t get too stingy, the rice should have some oompf. Please don’t leave off the final garnish, it really does boost the dish the way a tarka would.
Kimchi Fried Rice adapted from Jet Tila – 101 Asian Dishes to Make Before You Die
4-6 slices of bacon (optional)
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped (I used a whole onion)
2 small carrots, matchsticked
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped frozen cauliflower
4 cups day old cooked short grain rice… (I used jasmine)
1 cup rouphly chopped kimchi (I used about 1.5 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons bacon grease
3 green onions sliced on a bias
sesame seeds for sprinkling
siracha for drizzling
Fry up some bacon, done to your likeness.
In a large skillet, heat the oils on medium high heat. –If you were to follow the original recipe you’d add the eggs here and lightly scramble them for 1-2 minutes, until just set — Add the onions and cook until translucent about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Don’t let it burn, burnt garlic is the worst.
Add in the rest of the veggies and cook until warmed through and the carrots are soft. About 5 minutes.
Stir in the kimchi and rice, pressing down to separate the rice grains. I used a fork for this.
Add in the salt, soy sauce or tamari, and sugar. Stir and fold the ingredients into the rice until completely absorbed and incorporated and the rice gets a little crispy on the edges.
In a small separate pan, add in a little reserved bacon grease from your bacon frying. I always have a jar of this in the kitchen….that’s just the way I was raised. Heat up your pan on a medium heat, I error on the low-medium side if there’s a question of how hot an egg frying pan should be. Get the bacon grease nice and hot. Add in the eggs, careful not to break the glorious yolks. Let eggs fry for a minute or two, then spoon the grease over the eggs, making sure to bathe the yolks too. Fry to your likeness, I prefer my eggs over medium. A firm white and runny warm yolk.
Gather your plates and mound the rice on them. Plate one egg per person on top of the rice. This dish makes 3 very healthy servings for me…. however the original recipe says it serves 4. I have a healthy appetite.
Garnish the eggs with sesame seeds, sliced green onion, and siracha. Eat happily.