I have to tell you, friends, I’m feeling a little pressure here. Like I need to choose my words carefully to convey to you how good this dish is. (How’s this? So good.) Most of the time I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I write here–I mean, who among us doesn’t love baked chard stems and butternut squash tacos and raw Brussels sprout salads? But here, with this dish, maybe we’re going out on a limb a little bit together. It’s fermented. It’s a little spicy. And I used white rice.
Be fearless. This is the kind of food that makes your mouth tingle with happiness (maybe it’s all the salt, but still). The texture is crunch and chew, the flavors are savory and bright. If you’re not already mad for kimchi, you will be soon.
Just a few items to note. First, this is a great way to use up leftover rice, but of course there’s no shame in cooking and cooling rice just for this dish. Second, of course you could use other (or more) vegetables; just cut them small. And finally, while it’s well-established that a fried egg on top of your food is never a bad idea, this rice is also delicious simply topped with an additional handful of diced tofu cubes.
Kimchi Fried Rice (adapted from Herbivoracious and The Kitchn): Fry 3 thinly-sliced cloves of garlic in 2 Tbsp. oil over high heat, then add a small-diced block of drained tofu and fry until browned. (Remove a few spoonfuls from the pan if you’d like to garnish your finished dish with tofu cubes instead of an egg.) Add a heaping double handful of thinly-sliced cabbage or other greens and continue cooking until they are tender and brown in spots. Add 2 c. cold leftover rice, along with a little more oil if the pan is dry and cook, scraping the pan occasionally, until the rice is chewy and crispy and browned in places. (Michael Natkin wisely advises cooking the rice for “as long as you can stand it.”) Reduce the heat a little if necessary to cook the rice well without letting it stick or burn.
When the rice has enough crisp bits to satisfy you, remove from heat and immediately add 1 c. drained spicy napa cabbage kimchi, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and a splash each of soy sauce and sesame oil (to taste; I used about a tsp. of each). Stir to warm through. Serve with the reserved fried tofu or a fried egg on top. Green onions are also a handsome garnish if you can remember to use them (I couldn’t).