It’s freaking cold outside. For whatever reason (POLAR VORTEX OMG!) South Texas has become quite cold for the past few days. It reminds me of Korea. Well, almost. I enjoyed the winter in Korea quite a bit, unless I had to go outside, and you know how life is, right? You need to go outside to go to work, the grocery store, anywhere. So yeah, I enjoyed winter in Korea, but I didn’t enjoy the slipping on the ice and such. At any rate, the cold snap here made me a little “home”sick for Korea, I guess. Combine that with the ridiculous craving I’ve felt for all foods Asian and you have a shopping trip in the making.
Saturday was kinda nutty. We went to Whole Foods, where I nailed down some ingredients I needed for ramen broth (kombu, nori, etc) and then headed over to Trader Joe’s where I purchased a bag of kimchi. Why kimchi? Why now? Why ever? I don’t remember really going out of my way to eat kimchi while we were in Korea. I liked it well enough, but damn, at every meal? It’s been a long time. Almost a year. It was time to get a little kimchi back in my system. After all, “Kimchi is good for your body condition.” et al. We also stopped at the “Oriental Market” down the street (I guess it was opened when “oriental” was the preferred nomenclature), where we picked up some danmuji, fish cakes, various frozen bau and fish balls (heh).
Wanting to use some of the kimchi right away, and needing to make something to take to work this week I figured I’d do kind of my classic “how do we use all of the crap in the fridge and cupboard” thing and make fried rice. But add kimchi, ssamjang (half Korean pepper sauce, half Korean style fermented soybean), and red pepper flakes and you’ve got yourself some KIMCHI FRIED RICE. It made my house smell a little more like “home” I guess, with the funk of fermented food products and pepper flakes in the air.
I don’t know how Koreans make fried rice. Hell, I don’t know how anyone makes fried rice, but basically, I cook rice, let it cool, and then well…fry it. We had a bunch of leftover meaty bits from a chicken I roasted a couple of days earlier, and as Carolyn was baking, 9 egg whites. For vegetables I had some julienned carrots that needed using and of course the kimchi. I kinda just chopped everything up and tossed it in the oil, and after it seemed to meld together I tossed in the rice, pepper flakes, and ssamjang, stirring until it looked like everything was coated.
The results of this experiment weren’t so bad. I had a hot meal for the past two days at work, and I haven’t been nearly as hungry when I get home in the afternoon. Plus, any time you have kimchi at a table full of Americans you have a conversation waiting to happen (e.g. Ew, what’s that?).
At any rate, it’s nice to have a real attachment to something from another time and place. Kimchi does cause me a guttural reaction, and not just in the obvious way. Something about that funky smell reminds me of just how easy life was when we were teaching English in Korea and had just a few cares in the world. Plus it’s good for your body condition.