Kimchi Fried Rice with Scallion Salad


There’s a theory out there in the ether that even the best cooks struggle with cooking rice (Kim Sever son once wrote a great piece about this in the New York Times). I’m afraid I’vesuffered from poor rice cooking for a long time. The fail-proof method (small victory) I’ve grown to love, especially for long-grain rice, with grains that are best when kept separate (as opposed to cozy short-grain rice, where the grains hug their neighbors), is to cook rice just as you would pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the rice, and boil until the grains are tender (10 to 15 minutes for most types of white rice, 35 to 40 for most types of brown rice). When the rice is done, drain it in a fine-mesh sieve and serve immediately with butter and salt, or let it cool and use it the next day for the one of the best foods in the world: fried rice.

Leftover rice is best for making fried rice because the grains become very dry and then act as sponges for whatever flavors you combine them with (another small victory). My favorite is cabbage kimchi, the fermented condiment that’s eaten with every meal in Korea. I came to love it when I worked on Kim chi Chronicles, the companion cookbook to the PBS program of the same name. Served with a simple scallion salad (a popular accompaniment to Korean barbecue), this is one of my favorite side dishes, and it makes for a wonderful, savory meal on its own if you top it with a fried or poached egg.

SERVES 4

SCALLION SALAD

4 scallions, roots and dark green tops trimmed off 1 tsptoasted sesame oil

1 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Kosher salt

FRIED RICE

One 16-oz [448-g] jar cabbage kimchi, including juice 3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed 1 small yellow onion, finely diced 2 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt4 cups [560 g] day-old cooked brown or white rice 1 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more as needed

TO MAKE THE SCALLION SALAD: Cut the scallions thinly on the diagonal or into small matchsticks. The best way to do this is to cut each scallion into three even pieces and then cu teach piece in half lengthwise. Put each piece flat-side down on your cutting board and cut into thin strips. Put the scallions, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and sesame seed sin a medium bowl and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and set aside.

TO MAKE THE FRIED RICE: Put a sieve or colander over a bow land drain the kimchi. Reserve the juice. Finely chop the kimchi and set it aside.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. Add the onion and garlic and sprinkle with a large pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until the onion just begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn the

heat to high, add the chopped kimchi, and cook, stirring now and then, until the edges of the kimchi become ever so slightly crisp and stick to the pan, about 5 minutes.

Crumble the rice into the skillet and stir thoroughly to combine. Add the reserved kimchi juice and cook, stirring,until the rice is warmed and red through and through from the kimchi juice, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, drizzle over the soy sauce, and taste for seasoning, adding a bit more salt and/or soy sauce if needed.

Transfer the fried rice to a serving bowl (or portion straight from the skillet) and top with the scallion salad. Serve immediately.

SPIN-OFFS

ADD BACON! Pork and kimchi are very good friends.Start the dish by cooking 4 oz [115 g] roughly chopped bacon until all of its fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.Add the onion, garlic, and kimchi and proceed as directed.

FOR ONE OF THE MOST SATISFYING FRIED-RICEVARIATIONS, crisp up some diced bacon in a skillet, then remove it, using a slotted spoon, and set aside. Cook some diced parsnips in the bacon fat until they’re browned on the outside and tender when you test them with a paring knife. Add leftover cooked rice to the skillet rice and cook until the rice is saturated with bacon fat and warm. Return the bacon to the mix, stir everything together, and add plenty of chopped parsley or cilantro.

FOR A GREAT SUMMERTIME LUNCH DISH, combine leftover cooked rice with chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh basil, and lots of high-quality canned or jarred tuna(the ones imported from Spain and Italy are especially good). Stir together with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar and serve at room temperature.


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