Stir Fry Kimchee with Bacon

Stir-fry kimchee

I was having a crazy bridal moment this week.

After nearly six months of working on designing my wedding invitations (that alone sounds crazy), I was ready to sing praises in the streets when I thought I was finished.  For stationery nerds out there, you understand why I agonized for half a year.  I obsessed over the format (pocket folds or jackets?), color scheme and layout (belly band or ribbon?), paper and envelopes (linen or matte?), decor, and verbiage. I probably spent just as much on buying template paper and craft pieces like an embossing dryer and rubber stamps as I did on the actual invitation printing.  In fact, I did.

It may surprise you that the obsession wasn’t the culprit to my moment of sanity lapse; it was an enjoyable labor of love.  Brides will know that when you have full control over the creative process, it can be fun.  It’s when you lose it (pun intended) that it becomes…not so fun.

But, I was oh so close!  As much as I loved it, after the last couple of months of running around finding a printing service and gathering the names and addresses of distant family members,  I was aching for it to be finished, signed, sealed, and delivered.  The day we received the final printed package, courtesy of a friend’s wedding stationery service Lucky Lemon, J & I celebrated with an invitation stuffing party.  I pressed on stamps and labels while drinking red wine.  It was fabulous.

Until the following day.

I’ll spare the gory details for the sake of family privacy, but let’s just say, after a few words with our families, there was a huge piece of the puzzle that I had overlooked.  It wasn’t a big deal to me, but for our traditional Vietnamese families, it would be.  And because it would be a big deal, we had to fix it.  Had to.

A friend once said to me, “Close, but no cigar.”  I had no idea what it meant at that time, but on the drive home, the phrase hung like a gloomy cloud.  Close, but no cigar. It wasn’t over yet.

That night, a million expletives exploded from my mouth, which I’ll spare you on those details, as well.  And somewhere in the midst of a mini-breakdown, a plane crash from the previous night’s jubilant celebration, I had to also think about what to eat for dinner.  The notion of comfort food is clear, but what the hell do you eat when you’re angry, stressed, and a little mad?  The ridiculous question made me smile a little.

The first thing that popped into my head was: kimchee.  The spicy, pickled crunchy cabbage paired with brown sugar and savory pork bits sounded like the perfect dish to eat during a mood like mine.  Detouring from home to the nearest grocery store, I texted my friend and former college roommate Dee for the ingredients.  She used to make this for our household during the hectic days of studying and rushing to and fro class.  I loved it as a busy college student and I still love this dish as a stressed out bride-to-be.  Nothing is as comforting and easy to throw together and as stir fry kimchee with a fried egg and rice.

Stir-fry kimchee

Stir Fry Kimchee with Bacon
Adapted from Dee’s recipe

I’m not particular about the Kimchee brand I use, so long as it’s spicy.  You can also buy jarred kimchee that’s mild.  My friend’s version calls for pork belly, but all I could find at Safeway was fresh, uncured bacon slices.  I found it still yielded enough fat and still maintained its great taste.  Enjoy this dish with a fried egg and rice, fried or steamed.

5 strips of bacon, sliced into bits
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
14 oz kimchee (2 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup of water

On a skillet, add the olive oil and cook the bacon bits on medium high for about 5 minutes.

Mix in the kimchee, brown sugar, and water.  Cover and let the mixture steam on medium low for five minutes.  Add sugar to taste and serve with rice.

Serves 2.

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