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.
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 pound squid bodies, cleaned, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup kimchi, chopped
- 1/4 cup kimchi juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (optional)
- 3 cups cooked white rice, at room temperature
- 2 scallions, ends trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced and reserved separately
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
- 1 sheet nori, thinly sliced
Warm 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When shimmering, add the squid pieces and use a wooden spoon to spread out in one layer. Cook until browned on the bottom, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir and brown on the other side, another 15 to 30 seconds, and then turn off the heat and transfer the squid to a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium. Cook kimchi for a minute, and then add kimchi juice, water, gochujang (optional), rice, and white scallion slices. Stir mixture occasionally and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. When done, turn off heat, return the squid pieces, and add the sesame oil and green scallions slices. Stir well and then divide the kimchi fried rice between four large bowls.
Meanwhile, poach the eggs according to Kenji’s foolproof method. Set a medium-pot of water over medium heat until it reaches 180°F, approximately at the point where the water starts to quiver but is not simmering. Adjust heat to low or medium-low to maintain the temperature. Crack each egg into a separate bowl. One at a time, transfer an egg to a fine mesh strainer, gently swirl it around until the excess white is removed, and then gently lower the egg into the pot and roll it into the water using the strainer. Once all the eggs are added, use a large slotted spoon to carefully move them around until they form a nice egg shape. After the whites set, about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, remove eggs with the strainer, and transfer each one to a bowl of fried rice.
Top each bowl with a quarter of the sesame seeds and sliced nori. Serve immediately.