Spring has arrived in Seattle.
Every week on one of my days off, I walk the mile or so to Pike Place Market. Usually to pick up some groceries, but often just for the exercise and to wander. And sometimes to visit Coffee & A Specialty Bakery, an entirely gluten-free bakery offering the most incredible pastries. (This week I indulged with a pineapple topped mini brioche and a tender vanilla madeline.)
Spring weather in Seattle is scattered. Sunshine gives way quickly to rain, and just as quickly in reverse. From our apartment, we can see the block where blue skies are cut off by the gray, where the wall of rain starts. On Tuesday, I walked under a canopy of sunshine and managed to make it home with just a few sprinkles of rain falling.
I try to change up my route on these walks. Sometimes I’ll take 1st Avenue all the way down, or Elliott or Western. Sometimes weaving up and down the hilly side streets to avoid construction or a conglomeration of tourists.
I am falling more in love with this city every day. Even after just a handful of months, it feels like home. On my walks, I am able to absorb it all. The faint fish smell of the sea just a few blocks away. Passing ferries, cascading mountains that are too often obscured by clouds, the pinky-white of Mt. Rainier to the south. While climbing the stairs at Pike Place, that stacked and jumbled collection of curiosities, I couldn’t help but break into a broad smile.
The weather has been warm, but the air was still tinged with a chill. Today, though, that changed. Less than a week after the vernal equinox, a hint of summer has finally hit the air.
I made Craig eat this meal three times last week. (And, to be honest, again this week.) While I love layered meals with lots of elements, the simplicity and beauty of a quick and flavorful stir-fry is equally enticing, especially on days when I work late and return home utterly exhausted.
Perpetual spinach is a cross between spinach and swiss chard. It’s leaves look similar to chard, but it holds up better to cooking than either green. The flavor is bright and slightly sweet, more akin to spinach. I like to prepare it (and similar leafy greens) by removing the thick stems, stacking the leaves and then rolling them gently. I then thinly slice the leaves from the tip to the stem (chiffonade style). Chard, collard greens or even Tuscan kale would work brilliantly in this recipe as well. If you want to use spinach leaves or baby greens, wait to add them until the end of the saute (before the kimchi is added), since they will cook down much quicker.
The simplicity of this meal is that it’s really a base model for any quick fried rice. Use whatever greens you have on hand. Eliminate the mushrooms and opt instead for cooked chicken, shrimp, or edamame. Add grated carrots when you saute the onions, or toss in some broccoli to add bulk. It’s best to use leftover or day-old rice, because it’s slightly less moist and fries up better, but you can easily use freshly cooked rice too.
Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.
— Louise Fresco
Make this dish your own and share it with someone you love. Plus, the leftovers make a killer quick lunch!
- Cucumber kimchi
- Perpetual spinach
- Shiitake mushrooms
Kimchi Fried Rice with Shiitake Mushrooms and Spinach
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 pint shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
1 cup thinly sliced perpetual spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
2½ cups cooked rice (I used white basmati)
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup kimchi
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
¼ cup chopped mint leaves
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coconut oil and swirl around the pan to coat. When hot, add the sliced onions and saute until the onions are softened (3-5 minutes). Add the sliced shiitakes and continue cooking until the mushrooms are soft. Add the greens and toss together. Saute until the greens are bright and have softened. Toss in the minced garlic and stir until fragrant.
Add the rice and toss so everything is well mixed. Let sit for several minutes, then stir and flip the rice around in the pan so the rice that was cooking is now closer to the top. Let sit for several minutes, then stir and flip again. Continue until the rice is soft and pieces are beginning to turn golden brown. (You can cook it here as long or short as you’d like. If you prefer your rice to be equally golden and more “fried” in appearance, continue the toss-and-sit method for several more minutes. If you’re in a rush, move on to the next steps once the rice is softened.)
Make a well in the center of your pan and add the whisked eggs. Stir the eggs gently until they begin to scramble and set up. Toss everything together in the pan (the residual heat will finish cooking the eggs).
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the kimchi and fresh herbs.
Serve with tamari or soy sauce and extra hot sauce on the side.
Cheers to endlessly adaptive and quick meals.