Monday, February 29, 2016

Easy breakfast fried rice

I make a point of always bringing leftover rice home from just about whatever Chinese restaurant it is that we visit. I love those cartons of rice hanging around in my fridge for a day or two, as they make life so much easier. Made into congee, reheated in the microwave with some other dinner items on top, or tossed in a soup, this extra rice symbolizes lots of fast meal possibilities, as far as I’m concerned. So, I am always carting boxes extra rice back home with good ideas in mind.

Chopped onions & kimchi
Fried rice is one of my eternal go-to dishes for lots of reasons. First off, it’s simply delicious when done right. Second, it’s super speedy. And three, it’s always open to new additions. Everything depends upon my mood, the season, and what is hanging out in the refrigerator.

Today is one version that tends to show up regularly for breakfast when we have been eating lots of nonspicy foods for a couple of days. Like this morning, I desperately needed something to jumpstart my taste buds, and the thought of kimchi fried rice immediately made me very happy. A good friend had given me a quart of homemade Korean pickles, and what better way to honor them than in a steaming bowl of rice? So, out came the leftover grains, some organic eggs, and fresh bunches of green onions and cilantro. I was ready to go.

Fresh eggs are always loved here
Feel free to make this as spicy or mild as you like. This definitely is a template, not a recipe. Sub in some leftover meats for one or two of the eggs, if you like, or go vegan and use just vegetables or maybe some nuts. This is one very forgiving way with leftovers, and as far as I’m concerned, a great reason to order extra rice if given half a chance.

By the way, China’s Northeast – which includes Manchuria – has lots of ethnic Koreans, so this could probably be considered as a Northeast dish. But to be honest, this is more of a personal interpretation of Korean fried rice.

I. Love. Leftovers.

Kimchi fried rice
Hánguó pàocài chǎofàn 韓國泡菜炒飯
Northeast (kinda) and Korean
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side

2 to 3 cups cold cooked rice
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, divided in half
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (or more) coarsely chopped kimchi, plus some of the pickling juice
2 green onions, chopped – white kept separate from the greens
Half a bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

Toast the rice for best flavor
1. Loosen up the cold rice so that there are no large clumps. Set your wok over high heat and when it is hot, swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle in the rice and let it brown lightly before tossing it. Repeat this a couple of times until the rice is toasty and heated through.

2. Make a well in the center of the rice, add the rest of the oil, and immediately pour in the eggs. Cook them, stirring the eggs now and then, until they have formed lumps, and then toss the eggs with the rice. Add the kimchi and onion whites, toss with the rice until lightly combined and heated through, and then adjust the seasoning as needed. Add the onion greens and cilantro, toss a final time, and serve hot.

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