Recipe

Kimchi Fried Rice

Adapted from Kye Soon Hong, Matthew Amster-Burton, and Spilled Milk

I pick up kimchi whenever I’m near a Korean market or Uwajimaya, but Ballard Market, my neighborhood grocery store, also carries it. They sell a couple of different brands, but I usually buy Island Spring. It’s made about half an hour away, on Vashon Island, and it has good flavor and heat. Matthew, however, makes his own kimchi, and it’s fantastic. Maybe he’ll teach me how someday. David Lebovitz also has a recipe for it.

As for rice, the best type for this recipe is Calrose, a medium-grain, Japanese-style white rice from California. But I’ve also used Thai jasmine rice, which is nice – though when you fry it, it tends to stick aggressively to the pan. Whatever you use, cook it a day or two ahead, cool it, and chill it. If possible, allow it to come to room temperature before frying.

About the pan: if you have a well-seasoned wok, use it. Or, if you’re stuck with just a heavy skillet and an electric range, as I am, that’s okay. I use my largest cast-iron pan. It’s nicely seasoned, but the rice still sticks a bit. It’s annoying, but not annoying enough to keep me from making fried rice. (Just put some hot water in the pan when you’re finished, soak briefly, and the stuck rice will come right out.) One word of warning: I wouldn’t use a nonstick pan. The coating isn’t safe for use over high heat.

Oh, and if I were you, I might fry two eggs per person. But it’s really up to you.

4 strips bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch pieces
2 cups Napa cabbage kimchi (see above), diced
4 cups cooked rice (see above)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for frying eggs
2 tsp. sesame oil
Salt
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sliced scallions or sweet spring onions, for garnish
Eggs, for frying

Put the bacon in a large skillet or wok, and place over medium heat. (I find that by starting the bacon in a cold skillet, I can get it to render more fat than it does when I start it in a hot skillet, and that’s helpful for this recipe.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked through but still tender. Add the kimchi, and cook for several minutes, until the kimchi is hot and maybe even beginning to brown in spots.

When the kimchi looks right, raise the heat to high, and add the rice, stirring well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for several minutes, until the rice is hot and beginning to brown. (If the rice is wanting to stick to the pan, it’s going to be hard to brown it properly, but don’t worry. Just make sure it’s nice and hot. It’ll still taste very good.)

Meanwhile, in another skillet, warm some butter and fry as many eggs as you’d like, seasoning with salt to taste.

When the rice is ready, stir in the butter and sesame oil, and season with salt to taste. Divide between two or three bowls, and top each with a fried egg or two. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.

Yield: 2 generous or 3 moderate servings

Recipe

Russian Egg and Mushroom Salad

Adapted from Saveur, and from Anya von Bremzen’s Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook

The original recipe called for white button mushrooms, but because I like crimini mushrooms more, that’s what I chose. And for the mayonnaise, I used Best Foods (also sold as Hellmann’s). Homemade would be terrific, but there’s nothing wrong with Best Foods.

Also: the flavor of this salad really deepens with time, so consider making it a day (or even two) before you want to eat it.

5 Tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. mushrooms, roughly chopped (see note, above)
½ medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill
4 hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a 10” or 12” skillet over medium-high heat, and add the mushrooms. (If they don’t all fit in the pan at once, let the first panful wilt down a bit, and then add the rest. It’ll work out fine.) Cook, stirring often, until lighly browned, 14-16 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to soften; then reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until lightly caramelized, 10-15 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the dill and eggs, and stir to mix.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice. Add a couple of spoonfuls to the mushroom mixture, and toss until evenly combined. Taste, and add more dressing as needed. (All in all, I used only about two-thirds of the dressing.) Season with salt and pepper. Depending on how deeply browned the onions are, you might also want an extra squeeze of lemon.

Pile on lightly toasted bread – preferably sourdough rye, if you’ve got some – and serve open-faced.

Yield: about 2 cups