Oh, kimchi, where have you been all my life? Spicy, piquant, fermented vegetables, you rock my world. Your loads of vitamins A and C and gut-healthy probiotics are a happy bonus for something so delicious.
On paper, I shouldn’t like kimchi. I have issues with certain hot spices — cayenne pepper: no, thank you (except in very small amounts); chipotle pepper and sriracha: yes, please — so it’s always a toss-up as to whether I’ll like something spicy-hot. (Cayenne pepper has a curious physiological effect — it completely overwhelms my senses. It burns, oh, yes, and then it deadens my sense of taste and smell for hours. Indian cuisine, which relies heavily on cayenne, was a real challenge until I learned to omit it entirely, or make substitutions with sriracha.)
I’m still not clear on exactly what kind of chili pepper gives kimchi its heat, but whatever it is, it’s highly addictive. I’m sure the pickling effect of fermentation helps tweak the peppery bite into something that appeals more to my palate. I adore anything pickled. (Is it TMI to admit that I used to drink dill pickle juice out of the jar as a youngster? I suspect some of you are nodding in agreement, while most of you are cringing. ;^) )
Kimchi is a very flexible condiment — serve it as a side, or add it to salads, stir fries, and scrambled eggs for a super quick and healthy meal. A quinoa stir fry with seasonal vegetables is my favorite lunch in the whole world, but when time is tight, scrambled eggs with a big helping of healthy greens fill in nicely.
Vegetarians should note that not all kimchi is vegetarian. Some regions of Korea use brines enhanced with fish sauce or anchovies — be sure to read the labels on imported varieties — but I have no problem finding locally produced all-vegetable kimchi.
This no-recipe recipe is utterly flexible and forgiving. Feel like adding some quinoa? Go for it! Need to swap out kale for spinach. No problem.
- extra virgin olive oil
- eggs, lightly beaten
- kale leaves, thick stems removed, torn into thumb-sized pieces
- kimchi (use your favorite flavor — I love the traditional cabbage, green onion, and daikon radish)
- mung bean or alfalfa sprouts (optional)
- chia or hemp seeds (optional)
- Heat oil in a wok or a saute pan over medium until shimmering. Swirl the oil in the pan to coat the bottom and up a bit of the sides. Add the eggs and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly as the eggs cook. When nearly cooked through, add the kale. Keep the eggs and kale moving around the pan.
- When the kale turns a bright green and is slightly wilted, add the kimchi and sprouts (if using) and the cooked quinoa. Give everything a good stir and heat for an additional minute or two.
- Spoon onto plates, and sprinkle with chia seeds, if desired.