I think everyone has certain rules or considerations before people can be considered as friends. There are obvious considerations such as not being a complete tool or tosser in order to be looked upon as a friend… unless you like those qualities in people. Some people prefer to limit their friendships with folks who have like-minded religious or political beliefs. Ok, cool. That’s fine. I have certain rules and guidelines as well. I can’t be friends with people who don’t like to suck the brains and guts out of shrimp heads when eating whole shrimp, or are grossed out when I do. For those of you who don’t do that, you don’t know what you’re missing. I also can’t be friends with people who refuse to try kimchi. It’s cool if you don’t like it but as long as you’ve tried it. But to flat out say that you won’t even taste it… that’s the culinary equivalent of being a narrow-minded bigot if you ask me.
I kid, I kid.
I’m not that serious, but you can see the point I’m getting at. I often ask people who refuse to eat or try kimchi why they won’t taste it. I get responses such as, “Isn’t it fermented? Meaning that it’s rotten cabbage?” Why yes. Yes it is. I often follow that up with counter questions of my own. “Do you like cheese? Oh you do? Well you realize that’s rotten milk, right?” “Do you like wine? Oh you do!? You realize that’s rotten grape juice, right?” “Do you like beer? Who am I kidding… of course you do! You realize that’s rotten barley juice, right?” And finally, “do you like sauerkraut? Perhaps with your Rueben sandwich or with your hotdogs and brats? Oh you do? Well what do you know… kimchi is pretty much the exact same thing except spicier.” Free your minds, people.
I’ve seen kimchi fried rice on menus in Korean restaurants before but I’ve never taken the plunge in ordering it. I’ve of course had my fair share of kimchi and would be very happy eating it with plain rice. Cold kimchi and hot rice is a typical lunch in Korea for the working class and it’s more than enough to make me happy. But I started thinking about other uses for the kimchi I had bought at the local Asian store and decided to scour the internet for a kimchi friend rice recipe. One of my favorite accompaniments for kimchi is barbecue and I recently made a rack of ribs (that’s another post for another time) that went perfect with it. The sweetness of the barbecue sauce with the richness of the fatty ribs with white rice and a side of cold spicy/sour/acidic kimchi hits a lot of flavor combinations that would make any palette dance. But I wanted to try something different and dug up a kimchi friend rice recipe that I made some tweaks to form my own
-Previously cooked rice. Preferably cooked 1-2 days before. Enough for 3 servings or so.
-Several shiitake mushrooms
-3-4 green onions (spring onions)
-Several garlic cloves (or less if you prefer)
-1 cup of kimchi
-Vegetable cooking oil
-1 egg per serving
-Salt and pepper
Start by heating cooking oil in a wok or large pan. As the oil gets hot, julienne cut the carrot, chop up the shiitake mushrooms, chop up the green onions (save some for garnish), and mince the garlic. Toss the julienned carrot, chopped up shiitake mushrooms/green onion, and minced garlic and let the flavors combine and soften.
As it’s softening, cut up the kimchi in a bowl using kitchen shears which would be a perfect tool. The reason you’re cutting kimchi in a bowl is because if you do it on a cutting board, it will stain it and perhaps even leave a lingering smell.
Add the cut up kimchi to the wok and mix it in to incorporate it with the rest of the vegetables. Add in the rice, and break up the clumps with the back of the spoon so that individual grains can pick up the sauce brought about from the kimchi and vegetable mixture. It should have a light red tint. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Before plating, fry a sunny side up egg on a separate pan. Plate the fried rice, sprinkle some of the remaining chopped up green onion, and land the sunny side up fried egg on top. Enjoy with Korean barbecue, or your own barbecue concoction such as ribs, beef brisket, or even pulled pork. I’d put this up against any other version of friend rice around Asia as well (Chinese, Filipino, Nasi Goreng from Indonesia, etc.).
Plus for those out there who have yet to try kimchi, this is a great way to get an initial taste before eating it as an accompanying side dish as it is meant to be.