I don't think I'll ever get tired of one-bowl meals. Give me a bowl, a spoon, and a comforting mix of grains, vegetables and protein, and I'm set. Kimchi fried rice satisfies all those requirements — and even includes the underappreciated "pickle" food group — but I always like to add a couple handfuls of shredded greens to the mix for a boost of color and nutrition. Funky, a little spicy, and studded with soft bits of scrambled egg and pops of bright kimchi, it's a quick one-bowl lunch or dinner I could eat anytime.
Kimchi fried rice makes the most of ingredients that don't look terribly promising on their own. Kimchi that is too old and funky to eat straight from the jar is perfectly tasty when cooked, and leftover rice is actually better than freshly-made when making fried rice, thanks to its drier, firmer texture. Add a few pantry staples, a couple eggs and the chopped green vegetable of your choice, and dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes.
Of course, the variations on kimchi fried rice are endless and deeply personal. Some people swear by the addition of bacon, others always fry their eggs and serve them on top of the rice; all of these are good. My personal version reflects my love of leafy green vegetables and ongoing quest to add them to whatever dish will have them. It's also not a terribly spicy rendition, so feel free to add more gochujang if you're craving a rice that brings on the heat.
And while a well-seasoned wok will make cooking easier, any heavy-bottomed skillet will work. The rice might stick a little, but resist the urge to use a nonstick pan, which can't handle the high heat of stir-frying. (A large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a better choice.)
Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens
Makes 2 servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon gochujang (or more, if you like it spicier)
2 cups cooked white or brown rice, preferably leftover
2 cups thinly sliced greens (baby bok choy, spinach, chard, etc.)
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Add the kimchi and gochujang and stir-fry for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until hot and fragrant. Add the rice and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until hot. Add the greens, green onions and 1 teaspoon soy sauce, and stir-fry until greens are wilted. Taste and add more soy sauce or salt if needed.
Push the rice over to one side of the pan and pour in the egg. Scramble into soft curds and mix into the rice. Drizzle each serving with about 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil and serve immediately.
• Cook 1 or 2 pieces of bacon in the pan and use the bacon fat to fry the kimchi, crumbling the cooked bacon into the rice.
• Instead of scrambling the egg, serve it poached or fried on top of the rice.
• Add crumbled toasted nori and sesame seeds instead of the sesame oil.
• This fried rice is an excellent way to use kimchi that is past its prime.
• You can use freshly-cooked rice, but the the finished dish will be a little mushier than if you use day-old rice.
Related: How to Make Fried Rice
(Images: Anjali Prasertong)