Home Cooking – Kimchi Fried Rice

I was afflicted with an intense kimchi craving for the better part of a year.  During those months, you would find me eating austere meals of kimchi and steamed brown rice, day in and day out.  Sometimes I would add a hard-boiled egg, or use mustard greens kimchi instead of the usual cabbage.  I like to think it was my body’s way of demanding a colon cleanse without having to pay someone for a colonic (yikes).

So, to honor my occasional kimchi obsession, here is a slightly fancier variation on kimchi-with-rice: kimchi fried rice with bits of leftover Chinese cold five-spice beef (五香牛肉) and bean curd (firmer version of tofu), courtesy of mom.


Kimchi Fried Rice


As with so many of my other Home Cooking adventures, there are no recipes as much as there are guidelines.  I like my fried rice crispy and brown-edged – a hot wok (traditional) or skillet is good for this.  I eschew the peas and scallions that are so prevalent in restaurant fried rice, but again, that’s just personal preference.

Leftover brown / white rice, straight from the refrigerator, works well here.  Don’t add the kimchi liquid unless you like a really wet fried rice.  Also, I usually chop the beef, bean curd, and kimchi into similar-sized chunks.


Mom's Homemade Chinese Five-Spice Beef


I have no wok, but I do own a well-loved cast-iron skillet, perfect for crisping up bits of veggies, beef, and rice.  I use whatever neutral-tasting oil I have on hand, such as canola or olive oil.  One Korean-American friend told me to use butter for a richer flavor.  Another pooh-poohed that idea, asserting that sesame oil was the only acceptable fat for kimchi fried rice.  After carefully considering these warring perspectives, I decided that convenience would rule the day – so my trusty bottle of olive oil it was.


Kimchi Fried Rice in Cast-Iron Skillet

A savory, spicy, and hearty midnight snack worthy of the inevitable heartburn that results upon consumption.

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