I've made kimchi fried rice a few dozen times over the years, but I don't think I've ever made the same version twice. That's mostly because it's a last minute dinner idea, so I just throw a few things together and hope for the best. Even when I follow recipes, I'm left with a bowl that is good and satisfying, but never quite hits the spot like I want it to. Part of that problem, I realize now, is that I haven't been adding enough of the liquid from the kimchi jar. I've used some of that liquid before, but never a quarter of a cup, like this wonderful recipe from Maangchi advises. The result is a fried rice with serious attitude. There's a pleasing and lingering heat, and a sharp and assertive acidity. I was impressed. But I'm never quite completely satisfied and, as I devoured my bowl, I kept thinking of additions that would make this even more special.
My first thought was that the recipe could use something to break up the heavily seasoned rice, and for whatever reason, squid immediately came to mind. When cooked quickly, squid has a clean flavor and tender bounce, which I knew would stand out in the bowl.
My last addition was far more obvious—a poached egg. I should admit upfront that I've had a contentious relationship with poached eggs over the years, because I could never find a method that consistently worked. I'd always sacrifice a few eggs to the pot, before ending up with one that I could use. But that all changed when I learned about Kenji's foolproof poaching method, and now I am something of a poached egg machine. It really works. The only special equipment you need is a mesh strainer, though a thermometer is also helpful. The post also comes with a good video to help walk you through the whole process.
While the original recipe is great, these two additions turn it into a full and hearty meal, which is nice as we head into the depths of winter.