Kimchi Fried Rice

The very first movie I ever saw in theaters was a re-release of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was four at the time, we were living in New Hampshire, and I was beyond excited even though I doubt I fully understood the concept of going to a movie. In order to get me to calm down, my mom told me that we would go to the movie theater only after I finished dinner. For some reason, I remember very clearly that we had fried rice for dinner that night.

Growing up, I was never gaga over fried rice. Sure, the stuff at restaurants was fine but I always brushed it off as Americanized Chinese food. My mom made her own version occasionally with peas, onions, green onions, eggs, and that meat that is so adored by Asians, Spam.  Sometimes she’d mix ketchup into it, which sounds weird but actually adds a nice tangy tomato taste.  When I moved out of the dorms after freshman year of college, I sometimes made fried rice just because it was a quick and easy meal to slap together.

I first became aware of kimchi fried rice during college. There were lots of Korean restaurants in the vicinity, but I always gravitated toward the bibimbap or the BBQ. The fried rice was only vaguely interesting to me. So I’m not really sure why, when I saw this recipe for kimchi fried rice on Spoon Fork Bacon, I instantly decided that making it would have to be a part of my weekend plans. It was one of those times when I just looked at the picture and had no doubts that the final product would be good.

And you know what, the fried rice was better than good – it completely exceeded my expectations. The ingredients are simple, but the kimchi and its juice lend a spicy sourness, the sesame oil provides a wonderful toasty aroma, and the sesame seeds give a nice subtle crunch. I dare you not to scarf down a piping hot plate of this fried rice and then eye the leftovers sitting on the kitchen counter.

Two final notes. First, since it’s the star of the show in this dish, getting good quality kimchi is important. The best place to to buy it would be a Korean market, though Japanese and Chinese markets will often have it as well. One bonus of trying this recipe was that it led me to a great little Japanese market near my apartment, which is next to a bakery that sells Beard Papa cream puffs and is on a street full of Japanese restaurants (ramen! yay!). Sometimes American grocery stores will stock kimchi (which would be in the refrigerated section near the tofu) but be forewarned that 1) the quality will not be as good, and 2) you will over-pay for it.

Second, go check out Spoon Fork Bacon. It has wonderful recipes and is my new favorite site for eye candy. The design and the photography blow my mind. I’ve been drooling over the archives even though I have more than I can handle in terms of studying. Bad attorney!

Kimchi Fried Rice

From Spoon Fork Bacon

Serves 3-5

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 eggs, beaten

2 1/2 cups steamed rice

1 1/2 cups kimchi, roughly chopped, with its juices

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Garnish:

1 green onion, thinly sliced

In a wok or large saute pan, heat sesame oil over high heat. Pour egg into pan and gently but quickly cook, stirring and breaking apart into large pieces. Add rice and mix together, about 2 minutes.

Add kimchi and soy sauce to rice mixture. Stir together until all the rice has been well-coated, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in green onions and sesame seeds. Remove from heat. Top with remaining green onions. Serve hot.

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