Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkuembap)

Last week I suffered a pretty bad blow to the head.  I didn't loose consciousness or anything, I just felt like someone dropped a brick on my noggen.  After a night in the ER I was told that I had a minor concussion and symptoms should dissapear within a week.  Being the obsessive compulsive, Type-A personality kinda gal, I returned to my job, shortening my hours. I mean, anything less that 40 hours is considered rest, right?  I would come home, lay down for a bit, run an errand if I was feeling up to it and then spend an hour in the kitchen cooking dinner. 

A week had gone by and I wasn't feeling any better. I was actually feeling worse.  Headaches, vertigo, and dizziness were preventing me from doing anything (working, going to the store, walking the dogs, etc..) To sum it up, I felt (and continue to feel) drunk and severly hungover at the same time, which is not exactly a fun time.

Rest.  Like, really resting is very difficult for me.  Laying out the couch doing absolutely nothing is pure torture.  So much, that even when I felt like absolute shit I would still continue to go about my day as if nothing was wrong, and would wonder why it always took so long for my body to heal itself.

I tried to work through my head injury and that got me nowhere fast.

My brain was sending my body a very important message (you know that I need to chill the hell out NOW, or I could do some serious damage), and for once, I finally listened. Sleeping 8-10 hours a day and confining myself to the couch, moving only to eat and pee has become the new protocol.  Anything stimulating (reading, listening to music, watching T.V., playing on the computer) is a big no-no when trying to heal from a concussion, but I'm still allowing myself a couple hours a day so I don't go cray- cray.

Baby steps.

So what, you ask, does kim chee fried rice have to do with having a concussion?

Absoultely nothing, other than the fact that all of my meals have to be prepared in less that ten minutes so I can get my butt back on the couch, and this here fried rice fits the bill perfectly.  It fills me up all day, is super healthy (er, other than the fried part), and is the ultimate comfort food when I'm feeling down.

As long as you have some leftover rice, kimchi, eggs and some vegetables on hand, you can throw this dish together in no time.

Up until recently I had never had kimchi.  I love fermented foods (saurkraut, kombucha, yogurt) for their taste and health promoting benefits but never gave this one a chance.  However, once that first bite crossed my lips, I became addicted and have gone through an entire jar in less than three days!

Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean dish usually made with cabbage, radish, onions, garlic, chilis, and seasonings, but can vary from region to region.  It's salty, crunchy, sour, spicy and oh so good for you due to the fermentation process. Kimchi is consumed as you would any pickled vegetable, most commonly enjoyed with rice, noodles, meat or tofu and vegetables.  Whipping up a batch of kimchi fried rice (aka kimchi bokkuembap.. I just love saying that) is a great way to incorporate this delicious pickle into your diet when you want a quick meal.

Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkuembap) (serves 2)

3 c. leftover rice (I used white jasmine)
2 T. sunflower oil (or any neutral oil)
3 cloves garlic, grated
2" piece ginger, peeled and grated
two large handfuls baby bok choy, rough chopped
two large handfuls baby spinach
3/4 c. kimchee, rough chopped (I used Mama O's brand straight outta Brooklyn)
4 scallions, thinly sliced.
2 t. sesame oil
cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

2 eggs
1 T. butter or sunflower oil

Heat 2 T. oil in your largest cast iron skillet (or any other large frying pan) over medium high heat. Add the baby bok choy and cook until wilted.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent burning.  Add the rice, tossing to coat with the oil. Spread rice into a single layer and let cook for a couple minutes.  Using a spatula, mix the rice up a bit then spread it out again.  Repeat until the rice starts to crisp up a bit, then stir in the baby spinach, half the scallions and kimchi.  Cook for an additional 30 seconds, stirring constantly to wilt the spinach. Add sesame oil and season with cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy your kimchi is), sea salt and black pepper. Divide the fried rice between two bowls. Reduce the heat to low, scrape out any remaining bits left in the skillet and return to the burner.  Add butter or oil, then crack two eggs into the pan. Cook until the whites are set but leave the yolks runny. Carefully slide the eggs onto the fried rice.  Top with the remaining scallions and eat immediately. 

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