Learn about the benefits of fermented food and get the recipe for this kimchi fried brown rice with bacon.
I have a pretty rad stepmom. I credit her with introducing me to some life changing stuff - clothes that aren't oversized horse t-shirts, Meg Ryan movies, and pierced ears. Perhaps most importantly though, she introduced me to authentic Korean food and the amazingness that is kimchi.
If you're new to kimchi, I should probably warn you it's one of those love/hate kinda things. Kimchi is the Korean national dish. It is made by fermenting salted cabbage in a spicy sauce of Korean chili powder, fish sauce, garlic, ginger and other spices. During the fermentation process, bacteria break down sugar and starch, converting it to lactic acid. The process can range from a couple of days to months. If I remember the episode of No Reservations correctly (and given my love of Anthony Bourdain, I probably do), in Korea, kimchi is fermented in clay pots buried underground for up to a year. The result is spicy and sour, with some crisp pieces and others wilty. I love the extra wilted bits, which my stepmom and I call old kimchi.
If you've never tried kimchi, my description probably isn't selling you on it.
Would it help if I told you fermentation is, like, really hot right now? Fermented foods were on just about every list of top food trends for 2014. The popularity of the paleo diet has prompted a resurgence of this ancient method of preservation. Once relegated to health food stores, foods like kefir, kombucha and tempeh are now be found in most grocery stores.
I kind of love this trend, not just because kimchi doesn't require a special trip to an Asian market, but because fermented food has some amazing health benefits that more people are getting to experience. Fermented foods are a rich source of probiotics. The bacteria in fermented foods produces vitamin K2, a form of the vitamin that seems to be particularly beneficial for bone health, cardiovascular health and prostate cancer prevention. The fermentation process also increases the concentration of omega 3 fatty acids and B vitamins in foods.
Other fermented foods to include:
- Fermented pickles (they'll be refrigerated)
- Aged cheese
- Fermented soy sauce
And of course, kimchi! I often eat it by itself as a snack, but it's even better worked into traditional Korean dishes, like kimchi jigae (kimchi stew), kimchijeon (kimchi pancake), mandu (kimchi dumplings), or in this kimchi fried rice.
Kimchi Fried Rice
You can find kimchi at most grocery stores now. I buy mine at Earth Fare or Trader Joes. If you're having a hard time finding it, check an Asian food market. Also, make sure you cook the rice the day before so you can stir fry it cold, otherwise the warm rice will get mushy as it cooks. Adapted from Orangette.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 head of napa cabbage, shredded
- 2 cups kimchi, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 4 eggs
- Toasted sesame seeds, for serving
- Chopped green onions, for serving
- Sriracha, for serving
- Place brown rice and 1 1/2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 40-50 minutes until water is absorbed. Let sit 5 minutes, then remove lid and fluff. Let cool slightly and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Place the bacon in a large skillet and set to medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked, but not crisp, and fat is rendered. Add the cabbage and cook 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned and wilted, then add kimchi and cook 2 minutes to warm through. Add brown rice and cook, stirring every so often, until crispy, about 5-7 minutes total.
- Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a medium skillet. Add the egg and fry until the whites are set and the yolk is runny, flipping for a minute before serving.
- Divide the rice between four plates. Top with a fried egg, sesame seeds, green onions and sriracha