Asia, Korea

kimchi fried rice

Kimchi. Fried Rice. Yes please. This recipe is so easy, delicious and comforting. You have to use cold rice from the day or two before or at least make it in the morning and then stick it in the fridge. After that, this recipe really only takes about 20 minutes. If you haven’t started buying kimchi on the regular its time to start. Buy it for the delicious fermented taste and then keep eating it for the probiotic health benefits. You’ll find it at any grocery story in the refrigerated pickles and saurkraut section.

I learned how to make fried rice in 10th grade home economics class. Oh how I loved these classes with the fake little kitchens.  I liked to pretend that my group was my own little family. It was playing “house” for a 16 year old.  I loved how we all helped to cook, sat down at our little table, ate together, and then all did the dishes together.  Don’t worry I wasn’t deprived of this in real life, I just really enjoyed playing house. I remember we had this recipe for fried rice and our teacher explained that the rice needed to be cold and made a day ahead of time.  This helped it to fry better.  The recipe she had did not have kimchi but it did have ham, onion, garlic, carrots and peas! Also soy sauce so you know I liked it. This recipe I’m posting may be even easier than my 10th grade cooking class recipe.  Most of the flavor comes from the fermented kimchi.  I’m adding a little cut up pork chop and of course a fried egg on top.  I used chives as a garnish because they are growing outside in my garden.  You of course could use green onions.  I had an extra pork chop that’s why I chose it, plus I love pork with Korean-inspired dishes.  You could use any protein, or not.  That’s what eggs are for! I’m topping it all with a super umami sauce made from soy sauce (this is my favorite brand), gochujang, and sesame oil.

kimchi fried rice

serves 2 really hungry people or 4 sorta hungry people

ingredients

2 cups cold cooked rice- made that morning or the day before- I used short grain rice  (mepssal).

¼ cup high heat oil- I used red palm but avocado would be good too

1 cup kimchi- strained over a bowl, reserving the liquid

1 ¼-⅓ lb pork chop

3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru)

Sesame seeds for garnish

2 tablespoons chopped chives or green onions

Salt and pepper

Sauce:

3 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons gochujang 

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Method:

Chop up the kimchi and set aside, make sure to reserve the liquid that drained from it. Thinly slice the pork chop and cut into small pieces. Heat a tablespoon of the high heat oil in a wok or deep skillet. Once hot, add the pork pieces and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook on high until cooked through and set aside. Without cleaning out the pan, add the chopped kimchi on high. Add a little oil if needed. Fry the kimchi for about 3-5 minutes. You want it to get cooked down and develop a sweetness. Add the red pepper flakes and toss and then add the rest of the oil, make sure it returns to high, and then add the rice.  Fry, tossing frequently, for about another 4-5 minutes. Add some or all of the reserved kimchi liquid to help create a desired consistency and get any cooked bits off the bottom of the pan. Return the pork to the pan and add the 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Cook for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust soy sauce and or salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid for a moment while you fry your eggs and make your sauce. For the sauce, just whisk together the soy sauce, gochujang, and the sesame oil. For the eggs:  use as many eggs as there are people eating.  Each person gets a fried egg on top. You want the yolk to be runny. You’ll feel so sad if you overcook it. If you do overcook it, just save it for egg salad and make a new one. Having a runny yolk over your fried rice is quite satisfying. Now plate your fried rice. Put your perfectly cooked fried egg on top of the rice. Now drizzle the sauce all around all cute-like and sprinkle with sesame seeds, more pepper flakes, and chopped chives. Yummy!

 

Those are some seriously seductive chives right there.

 

Asia, Korea

japchae

Japchae with egg omelet and green onion garnish

When I was in college and visiting my parents on a break, I found a recipe in one of my Mom’s Cooking Light magazines. The feature was on a Korean American woman who I think was also a cook (the details are blurry). She recalled all of her favorite Korean dishes she had growing up.  One of the dishes was “chapchae” or “japchae”.  It sounded so good! I took the magazine to the library to make copies of it and all the other Korean recipes.  Mind you, I was 21 years old in 2003, and this was my first experience with Korean food. I had to rely on these recipes alone having zero background knowledge on the cuisine. Lucky for me, the recipe author was really good at explaining the process.   I went back to my college apartment after the break and made all these Korean dishes.  My favorite was the japchae! This recipe is super fun to eat because of the unique texture of the noodles.  The ingredients are very easy to find.  I know because I could find them all at the Hy-Vee in Iowa in 2001 so I know you can find them wherever you are too. You can find the more authentic Korean sweet potato starch noodles in Asian grocery stores or you can use bean thread noodles which are found in the Asian section of most all grocery stores.

I’m not able to give the recipe author proper credit because her (it was a she) name isn’t on the copies I made.  I’ve made just a few tweaks such as less beef because I like a heavy noodle to beef ratio.

Japchae

serves 4

ingredients:

beef:

1teaspoon cornstarch

6 ounces round steak or sirloin, trimmed and thinly sliced into matchsticks

1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger (get the fresh stuff, don’t cheat!)

2 teaspoons sambal oelek plus a teaspoon of gochujang. The original recipe recommends the red Thai chile paste.  I used this back in college and it was really, really good.

1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil

noodles:

1- 3.75 ounce package sweet poato starch noodles (aka jap chae, chap chae, Korean glass noodles) or (mung) bean threads (aka cellophane noodles)

vegetables:

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 ounces), you can use white button mushrooms instead

1 cup (2 inch) julienne-cut carrot

1 cup (2 inch) diagonally sliced green onions

1 (10 ounce) bag fresh spinach

remaining ingredients:

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted ( I really enjoyed Eden Shake instead of just sesame seeds)

  1. To prepare beef, sprinkle cornstarch over beef; sprinkle cornstarch over beef; toss to combine. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and next 4 ingredients (1 tablespoon soy sauce through 3 garlic cloves); toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok with a little oil over medium-high heat. Add beef mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove mixture from pan. Cover and keep warm.
  3. To prepare noodles, pour boiling water over noodles; let stand 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain. Snip noodles several times with kitchen shears.
  4. To prepare vegetables, wipe skillet or wok clean with paper towels. Heat 1 teaspoons sesame oil and vegetable oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add half of spinach; stir-fry 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add beef mixture and noodles to pan, stirring well to combine. Combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and 1 tablespoon sesame oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over noodle mixture; stir well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. I also garnished mine with an egg than I beat with a little water and fried into a little omelet that I cut into slices. For the green onions you see in the picture, take a very sharp chef’s knife and cut into thin strips.  I was trying to be like Ivan Orkin.

Please, Cooking Light Magazine, since I know you’re reading this, tell us who was the recipe author! Thank you:-)