Sunday, June 8, 2008
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.