I hadn’t had kimchi in my fridge for the past month or so which is a weird state to be in if you’re Korean. I finally made it to the K. market this weekend. Usually, I go for the quart sized jar because it’s usually plenty for me to live on for 3 months but when I got to the market late afternoon they only had the gallon jars left and I wasn’t gonna walk out of there sad and kimchi-less. So it looks like I’m gonna be eating kimchi for the next 6 months, 5 if I throw a couple kimchi parties maybe.
Kimchi is Korean style pickled vegetables, most widely known in napa cabbage, daikon raddish or cucumber forms. It’s a common misconception that kimchi is this spicy cabbage thing, but it’s more a general term like ‘curry’ and there are probably hundreds of different kinds of kimchi based on the regional style/ingredients and season.
My favorite time to eat kimchi is when it’s freshly made and still crunchy, preferably the kind my mom shoves into my mouth right off the mixing bucket to sample. Once you store kimchi, it starts to ferment and some people like it better that way – Jojo? The more fermented the kimchi, the more flavorful it gets in cooking with it. Some popular dishes are Kimchi Chigae (stew), Kimchi Jun (pancakes) and Kimchi Bokumbap (fried rice).
Since I have to try really hard to make a dent in this jar of kimchi I just bought… after picking at a few strips of cabbage straight out the jar, I decide to go for kimchi fried rice for dinner. Although not so fermented yet, it will still be good.
You absolutely cannot fuck up fried rice, it is that easy. It’s completely dummy proof. That’s why if you’re not sure about a Chinese restaurant, fried rice is always a safe bet. All you need is rice, oil and something else – any meat, any veggie, left-overs, whatever. I recommend keeping a bag or two of the frozen mixed (diced) veggie blend – usually got carrots, peas, green beans, and corn. Although I didn’t use it for my kimchi fried rice, it can come in very handy for fried rice or black eyes.
This is my version of kimchi fried rice but you can replace any other ingredient to suit your taste buds. I personally am a big fan of tuna in fried rice so…
My ingredients: rice, kimchi, 1 canned tuna, carrots, celery, green onions, and Korean red pepper paste (go chu jang).
I added the red pepper paste to complement and deepen the kimchi flavor since the kimchi’s not very ripe yet. If you like Korean food, red pepper paste is a good item to keep in your fridge. It’s like hot sauce but better for cooking and is very versatile.
Add a spoonful of red pepper paste and rice – the rice for making fried rice is better if it is a day old and/or cold and not so sticky anymore. The rice wants to almost break into all the ingredients and fluffily mix so it doesn’t become a giant mush.
*If you have a good non-stick pan and you like crispy crunchy, you can heat a little bit of veg. oil and fry till the bottom gets crispy and a bit blackened.
Next lesson will be kimchi chigae. The kimchi will be more ripe when Johana’s here next week. Perfect.