Kale Makes Fried Rice Better
Fried rice is one of the best uses of a leftover ever devised. In Asian countries with rice-based cuisines, there is bound to be some left over. Nobody wants to waste valuable food, so creative cooks find a way of making that cold rice into a a dish that may well be better than the original dish. That dish is, of course, fried rice. Take cold, crunchy rice and toss it in a hot pan, and you have food that comforts your very soul.
Fried rice is so good, in fact, that it is a popular menu item in restaurants around the world. I’m so fond of it that I cook rice just to make fried rice, and I’ve created many recipes and variations on the theme. In keeping with the season, I wanted to harvest some kale from my garden and use it as the vegetable in my fried rice. I also like to use a more flavorful whole grain rice, so I cooked some red rice.
Fried Rice with Red Rice
If you aren’t a grain nerd, like me, you may not have tried red rice. Within the sprawling family of rice varieties, there is a group of “pigmented” rice cultivars. Brown rice is rice that has not had the bran layer or germ removed to make white rice. Pigmented rices have extra pigments in the bran layer, so that when they are left as a whole grain, they are red, black, purple, or a variation of those shades. Red rice refers to a number of varieties that you might be able to find in your grocery store, like Bhutanese Red Rice, Himalayan Red Rice, Wehani Rice ( a trademarked grain) or Colusari (also trademarked.) Look at the packaging for cooking instructions, or follow a basic 1 cup rice to 2 cups water method. Cook for 20 minutes and start checking for doneness- some take longer than others. If your rice is tender and there is still liquid in the pot, strain and return to the pot, and cover so the rice can steam and finish cooking.
For this dish, you need to cook one cup of red rice, but you can go ahead and cook two cups and save half for another meal. Use the red rice as you would any rice, under stir fries or curries, or in soups or casseroles.
Kimchi is the Ultimate Condiment
Kimchi is the ancient, fermented cabbage of Korea, and we Americans have embraced it for a multitude of reasons. The tangy, spicy cabbage adds instant complexity and umami to a dish, which is a huge boon to plant-based cooking. The vegetables and their brine are packed with beneficial bacteria, like yogurt and kombucha. There are even experts speculating that kimchi builds immunity to covid. That alone should motivate more people to give kimchi a try, and to add it to meals on the daily.
Kale and Kimchi Fried Red Rice with Tofu
- 1 cup red rice cooked
- 1 cup kimchi drained, reserving juices
- 4 cups kale, stems removed chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger chopped
- 1/4 cup kimchi juice
- 1 tablespoon gochujang to taste
- 2 teaspoons Tamari
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 package extra firm tofu in water drained and pressed
- 2 large scallions diagonally sliced
- Pack the kimchi into a cup to measure, then place in a wire mesh strainer over a bowl to drain. Wring the kimchi out until almost dry, then chop it and mix with the chopped kale stems and leaves, add the ginger and mix.
- Measure the kimchi juice in the bowl and add more, if needed, to make 1/4 cup. Whisk the gochujang, tamari and sesame oil into the juice. Place the cooked rice in a medium bowl and drizzle with the gochukang mixture, toss to mix.
- To cook, place a wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle the avocado oil in the pan and swirl to coat. Add the kimchi mixture and stir, cooking until the kimchi is lightly browned and the kale is very soft. Add the red rice mixture and stir until hot. Serve in two bowls topped with scallions.