Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more
Don’t read this post if you’re eating. You have been warned.
There’s been a lot of hype lately about the importance of good gut health. If you take it to extremes, you could get an FMT, or Fecal Microbiota Transplant. This involves taking fecal matter from a donor (!) with the desired level of good gut bacteria, and transplanting it into your body. The first time I heard about that procedure, I found it so distasteful that I had to actively try and block it from my mind. But of course, that’s about as effective as not thinking about the big pink elephant in the room.
Me, I prefer to do things the more traditional way. You are what you eat, and eating foods that contain pre- and probiotics will help to achieve the same result. The experts recommend eating fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. After having some of the delicious sauerkraut at Miss Heidi’s Austrian Tea House, I thought I would try my hand at a similar dish, but with a decidedly more Asian twist – Kimchi fried rice.
The critical ingredients for kimchi fried rice are, kimchi (duh), and gochujang, a Korean staple spice made from red chilli, fermented soy beans, and glutinous rice. I found this version in my local Asian grocer – it’s run by a bunch of Vietnamese ladies, but it has all sorts of Asian foods, including this box covered in nothing but Korean writing. I had to Google it to make sure it was indeed gochujang. Despite its somewhat intimidating English name, hot pepper paste, I find gochujang not particularly spicy at all. Instead, it has a unique taste that’s slightly sweet and full of umami. Once you have those two ingredients, most other elements of the dish can be improvised – my favourite kind of recipe.
We started with a wok full of bits and bobs from the fridge – this recipe is a great one for using up leftovers! We had some carrot, the last spring onion (why are they always sold in such gigantic bunches?), half a red capsicum, and bacon – bacon always makes everything taste better! Once the vegetables have softened, add the kimchi and let that fry for a minute before adding the rice, gochujang and some water to help everything cook. As a general rule of thumb, you want one cup kimchi to three cups rice (we used a mixture of brown rice and quinoa which gave the dish an additional layer of nutty flavour) to 2 – 3 tablespoons of gochujang to half a cup of water. For extra flavour, substitute half the water with kimchi juice from the jar.
Stir the mixture, and once it is dry-ish, it’s ready. Serve with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a dash of sesame oil. For extra protein, add some leftover roast chicken or pork, or top it with a fried egg (runny yolks please!). It’s so simple and you’ll have an amazing flavourful dinner on the table in 15 minutes.
It was our first time making this dish, but I thought it turned out really well. My biggest learning was to never send my guy out for exotic groceries because he will come back with the most expensive jar of kimchi ever known to man. That said, it was a pretty delicious jar of kimchi 🙂
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