I’ve been on a bit of a health kick recently–exercising (almost) daily, cutting out junk food and sugary drinks, etc. But I’ve never been able to say goodbye to white rice, even though it’s probably one of the worst diet offenders. Other than providing a lot of carbohydrates (which I definitely don’t need more of), there isn’t too much nutritional value to be had. But rice is the staple of my diet–and fried rice is my go-to lunch when I’m feeling lazy. I knew there had to be a compromise that allowed me my carbs fix while providing some type of nutritional content… but what?
Ever since I’ve given quinoa a shot, I’ve enjoyed it with a lot of different preparations. Simmer quinoa in milk for a breakfast oatmeal substitute! Simmer quinoa with chicken stock and white wine for a risotto substitute! Serve cold with diced vegetables as a salad! And quinoa actually contains protein, which puts it head and shoulders above rice as a carbohydrate source with substance.
One day, it occurred to me–why not substitute quinoa for rice when making fried rice? It’s not a new idea by any means, but the thought of using quinoa in an Asian dish made me skeptical. I’m glad I decided to give it a go despite my hesitation, because I think I like fried quinoa almost more than I like fried rice!
As for why I decided to use kimchi for my first attempt… well, kimchi is a constant presence in my fridge because of how healthy and versatile it is. Kimchi fried rice, kimchi pancake, kimchi soup, kimchi quesadillas… and sometimes, just out of the jar! I’m crazy about it. And I make kimchi fried rice so often that I am partially composed of it at this point (let’s say… 3%). The secret [as disclosed by a Korean friend] to making delicious fried kimchi is to sauté the kimchi with a pat of butter until it caramelizes at the edges, creating a sweet aftertaste to offset the spicy, sour tang of the initial bite. I literally just substituted the rice for quinoa and magic was made. My stomach will never be the same… and it will have more protein to boot. Win!
This recipe is best when using cooked quinoa that has been sitting in the fridge for at least a day. If you want to make the quinoa the same day you fry it with kimchi, use less water when initially boiling the quinoa so that it will fry up better and be less soggy when frying.
- 1 cup of kimchi, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup of cooked quinoa, preferably a day old
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- Heat a frying pan at medium-high and place the butter in the pan.
- When the butter has completely melted, place the chopped kimchi in the pan and toss around to coat with the butter.
- Spread the kimchi out in a single layer and let sit for a few minutes to allow the pieces to caramelize. I usually stir the kimchi after all of the liquid from the cabbage is gone, then allow it to sit for a few more minutes.
- When the pieces have browned on some of the edges and the white cabbage portions of the kimchi are translucent, add the cooked quinoa to the pan and stir until the quinoa is completely red with kimchi sauce. Serve and eat immediately!
- Feel free to add things to the recipe since it’s bare-bones–I’ve added Spam, garlic, green onions, etc. This is a great way of using up leftovers!