I don’t really associate New Year’s Eve with champagne or sequins. Instead, I associate New Year’s with food — maybe even more than Thanksgiving or Christmas, at my house, New Year’s Eve meant a family feast. A traditional Chinese New Year (and regular December 31 New Year’s Eve, because we totally double-down on our New Year’s celebrations) at my house was hot pot and “long life noodles,” hot pot because it symbolized prosperity and celebration, and noodles because they symbolize … well, long life.
I realized this weekend that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted anything savory. Which is funny, because I consider myself a pretty novice baker — I guess we just rotate much more frequently between tried and true meals, whereas Bowl #2 never has any input on sweets, so I just try any new thing I feel like. Anyway, I thought I’d change it up by posting about one of our very most favorite “tried and true”s — kimchi fried rice.
I grew up in a relatively small city in the South. It’s big enough to have an airport, but small enough that that airport only has five gates (and one direct flight to NY that I never take because it costs approximately a billion million dollars) — big enough that some people have heard of it, but small enough that a nod and an “Oh, right, right,” is as much as they can muster. 🙂 (Occasionally, I’ll meet someone who actually drove through it.) It was also small enough that, growing up, I can remember the first restaurant of almost every kind of unusual cuisine opening up in town — the first Korean restaurant, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. — and I can also remember the first time I ever had any of those kinds of foods. The first time I had pork bulgogi, then known to me only as “Korean spicy BBQ pork,” I thought it was the most ridiculously delicious dish I’d ever tasted, and I thought that that one god-like restaurant must have been the only place in existence that could create such a magnificent mouth-party. Logical. (And thus began a lifelong love affair with Korean food.)
All right, so I might be breaking some of my blog rules (gentle guidelines?) with this recipe. It’s not technically difficult — if I made it, it’s definitely not — but it’s a bit of a hassle. And it’s not super great for little households, since it’s at its best when first made. But it’s homemade japchae! Homemade japchae. I just couldn’t not. This is one of my favorite noodle dishes, Korean or otherwise. I love anything both savory and sweet, I love chewy and textured noodles (soft noodles are the worst) and I love bulgogi. And this is all of the above. It is heaven. On a green plate. Plus, the recipe for bulgogi that I’ve included is simple and great for little households, so there is that.
I have never seen anyone anywhere eat with the capacity and fervor of Bowl #2 when he orders spicy basil fried rice for delivery from a Thai place. No matter how monstrous the portion is, he will finish it (even if it means total immobilization and agony for hours afterwards). So, given the tumultuous events in Boston yesterday, I thought I would try to recreate it as a comfort food amidst all the lockdown insanity. (I won’t talk too much about everything that happened, since it’s been done much more eloquently than I could attempt to, I’m sure. I will say that I’m not ashamed to admit that we probably did exactly what we would have done on any other day with no obligations — stayed home in our pajamas, watched TV, cooked food, noshed on food. But, other than the fact that what we were watching that day was breaking news, wasn’t half of the lockdown’s eeriness simply knowing that you couldn’t leave if you wanted to?)
Ahh, welcome to my new blog! I thought I would start it off with something I was really excited to learn how to cook: bibimbap.