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Author Notes: Travel: it inspires you. Airplane food: it does not inspire you. Exception: I flew to and from Southeast Asia on Korean Air and became obsessed with Korean chili-bean paste (gochujang), a rich, spicy, umami-laden sauce which they served with everyhing. Gochujang: like the best spicy ketchup you’ve ever had. Sriracha: not as good as gochujang.
This dish was a riff on Mark Bittman's fried rice with crispy ginger and garlic. I’ve merged fried garlic and ginger and sauteed leeks with some of the key elements of bibimbap: raw sliced veggies for crunch, deliciously chewy sauteed shiitake mushrooms, and, of course, the great gochujang, tying everything together with richness and heat. Both Mark and the geniuses (genii?) from Seoul include a delicious, barely fried egg with a creamy yolk that breaks all over the fried rice. —The Pasta Man
- 1.5 cups white rice (dry volume), cooked and refrigerated
- 3 leeks, chopped, dark green discarded
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ginger, chopped
- 3 or more shiitakes, stem removed, sliced
- handful sliced veggies, like cabbage or carrots
- eggs, as many as you like
- gochujang (Korean chili-bean paste, available at Korean markets)
- veg oil
- soy sauce
- Add large glug of veg oil to pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook until crispy; remove to paper towels with slotted spoon and salt.
- Add leeks and large pinch of salt and raise heat to high. Cook until well-softened and beginning to brown, about ten minutes. Remove to plate. Add dash of oil and lower heat to medium. Add mushrooms, salt, and more oil if necessary and cook until soft. Remove to plate.
- Add sesame to oil to pan and add rice and leeks and raise heat to high. Cook for a few minutes. Push rice to one side and lower heat to medium. Crack eggs in pan and cook just until whites set. Serve eggs with rice, passing gochujang, garlic and ginger, veggies, mushrooms, and soy sauce.