Sunday, June 8, 2008

Kimchi Bokkumbap

Kimchi and pork together are one of life's great flavour marriages. There's nothing more delicious, especially after a long day of hiking, than a big plate of Dubu Kimchi (tofu topped with sauteed pork and kimchi). Except possibly a slab of samgyeobsal (pork belly) grilling on a slanted plate with the kimchi cooking in the pooled pork fat below.

I didn't have the time or inclination to make either of those dishes this weekend, so I had to settle for my runner-up favourite - kimchi fried rice. A staple of lunch restaurants and food courts in Korea, it's traditionally made with Spam; I prefer to use bacon. It's great for using leftover bits of rice in the fridge, which is what I did at the end of this week when I was cobbling together the scraps of the fridge to fill in our bento boxes. A warning - if you've never tried kimchi before, the smell is powerful. I apologized profusely for the smell to my co-worker, but as a kimchi fan, she said it only made her hungry.

The method is simple; in a hot pan, saute around a 1/3 cup sliced kimchi in sesame oil. When it begins to lose a bit of its violent red colour, and becomes a little limp, add a few strips of thinly sliced bacon. Continue sauteeing on low heat until the bacon is browned, then add a cup or so of cooked rice. Conventional wisdom requires the rice to be cold for good frying results, but to be honest, I find short grain koshihikari rice sticks in hard clumps when it's cold, and is almost impossible to break up in the pan. If my rice is cold, I blast it in the microwave first. Continue frying until the rice has soaked up all the kimchi juice and bacon fat it can, and then remove to a hot plate. In Korea, it's often served sizzling on a hot cast-iron plate. I like to garnish it with some toasted sesame seeds and strips of nori when I can. The gilding on the lily is to add a fried egg to the top - if the yolk is still runny, you can let it ooze over the rice as a decadent sauce.


KAY said...

kimchi...something I got to try.

nakji said...

Kimchi - some might say it's an acquired taste. Try cooking it the first time you try it, it's less....pungent that way!

Hiroyuki said...

"Conventional wisdom requires the rice to be cold for good frying results,"
Does this apply to long-grain rice? I always reheat cold Japanese short-grain rice in the microwave before adding it to the pan to make chahan (stir-fried rice), like you do.

nakji said...

Yes, I had always heard that the best way to make (North American style) Chinese fried rice was to start with cold or room temperature rice. Most people would be using plain old long grain white rice to make this. I find cold rice is worse when using short-grain rice like Japanese and Korean varieties, so I warm it up, too. I'm glad to see I'm not alone.