Decidedly not a beauty queen this one. She’s all lumpy and monochromatic. But the frumpy exterior conceals a heart packed with flavor.
And truly, on most days at least, who really wants a gorgeous but high maintenance looker of a dish when in a few minutes you could instead have one of the most incredibly easy and tasty lunches (or dinners, but I always seem to eat it for lunch) known to man.
And it uses up some leftovers too. That’s always good.
I never used to like fried rice that much, actually. I didn’t dislike it, I just saw no reason to eat it. I never saw what others seemed to see in it.
So for years I would scrupulously cook rice in small quantities so as never to have leftovers. Or, if there were leftovers, I would turn them into a porridge-like pudding for breakfast, and never think about the possibility that I was missing something.
Until kimchi was introduced into the equation, that is.
Kimchi. I should have written a valentine to you kimchi, I do love you so. It’s a fairly young love still, perhaps that’s why it seems all out of proportion at times.
For a time I was frightened by the intensity of the funk of kimchi, but when I finally gave it a real go in the last couple of years, I fell fast and hard. And I started to put it on everything, including tacos, grilled cheese, and breakfast (kimchi + fried egg = true brilliance).
And then I heard of kimchi rice, and out of nowhere fried rice went in my mind from ‘ho-hum who cares all that much’ to ‘please let me have this for lunch at least three days a week if not more like five, thank you very much.’
Through the addition of kimchi and my newfound interest in eating fried rice, I’ve also come to appreciate fried rice’s subtler glories, the chewiness of the rice, its bronzed grain, and its ability to soak up layer upon layer of flavor that you add to it.
The rice greedily guzzles the fragrance of garlic and ginger, clings to soy sauce and toasty sesame oil, relishes the heat of chile sauce, and then generously feeds it all back to you.
Kimchi takes all those flavors, eyes them impishly, and then cranks them up times 5. Not only do you get a pickly tang, but Garlic becomes GARLIC! Ginger becomes GINGER! Spice be-, well, I think you get the idea.
Plus you get the smug satisfaction of knowing all that flavor comes with a side of fabulously healthy little microbes to go take care of your gut and lead you to ever more wellbeing. Not bad for a cup of fermented cabbage.
The world may be divided along the lines of those who like an egg fried and placed gently atop their fried rice and those who like their egg vigorously scrambled in. I like mine scrambled in because I like the softness of texture this gives as it coats some of the rice grains, and I like finding little chunks of soy saucy egg here and there, scattered like sprinkles.
But, if you prefer your egg fried so you can cut it open and let the runny yolk pool in your rice, believe me, I have nothing to say against you. As long as there’s kimchi and fried rice, I think it will all end well.
Gingery Kimchi Fried Rice (serves 2)
- 1-2 Tbs. coconut or peanut oil
- 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of kimchi, chopped (If you’d like or can’t find kimchi at the store, make your own, it’s fairly easy! Here’s one good recipe. And here’s another.)
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbs. sriracha or gochujang (chile sauce) (use more or less depending on how spicy you like your food)
- 2 cups day old rice
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 cup of chopped tender greens like bok choy or spinach or peas (optional)
- 2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
- toasted sesame oil
- Heat a large frying pan that is not non-stick (or a wok, of course) over high heat. Add the oil and allow it to get hot enough that a drop of water splattered on the pan sizzles.
- Add the garlic slices and allow to sizzle for a minute until it starts to turn brown. Then, add the kimchi and give a stir. Cook for a minute, then add the ginger and sriracha/gochujang. Stir and cook for another minute or two until everything is hot.
- Stir in the rice and soy sauce and other vegetable (greens or peas), if using. Allow to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring just once or twice, until the rice is quite hot and getting crusty and sticky against the pan in a couple places. Pour the eggs onto the rice and cook, stirring well, for another couple minutes until the egg is cooked through and distributed throughout.
- Drizzle the fried rice with a little sesame oil to taste, and serve.