• ,

Food Porn Friday: The brilliance of leftovers

 

Anyone up for kimchi fried rice?

Anyone up for kimchi fried rice?

When I was standing in the Hong Kong Market in Gretna (a magical place filled with magical ingredients), I really didn't think a 64 oz. jar of spicy kimchi was all that much.  I mean, I love kimchi -- it has vegetables, which I'm told are good for you, and the lacto-fermentation process it goes through makes it filled with probiotics, which I am also told are good for you. Plus: It's delicious and spicy, and, as we all know, delicious spicy things are good for you, as well.  Not that I have any peer-reviewed scientific studies on that particular phenomenon, but c'mon ... you know in your heart that it's true.

As it turns out, 64 ounces is a LOT of kimchi. I've been working my way through that jar for weeks now, and it's only finally looking like I made a dent. Part of me, I'm sure, will be very proud when I dig out the last savory, spicy bit of Napa cabbage and pop it into my mouth. Maybe a bit wistful, too. But still, when it dawned on me that it was going to take some effort to make my way through this jar, I had to figure out clever ways of incorporating more kimchi into my diet.

A great way of making progress on my kimchi project came one afternoon when I looked in the refrigerator and found food, but nothing really cohesive to eat. Just bits and bobs of leftovers from the past several nights of cooking. On seeing a few cups of leftover purple Peruvian rice (which is excellent, by the way, and every bit as nutritious as brown rice ... also, it's purple, which is neat), I got an idea.

I decided there, on the spot, to cook Korean bokumbap, or kimchi fried rice. Once I had my plan in place, it was all pretty simple: cut up an onion, some garlic and a cup of my kimchi, and sauté them in a skillet with a bit of soy sauce and a little oil. Then add the rice, some leftover chopped ham, mix it all together and simmer, then -- the most important part of the process -- top off my bowl of bokumbap with some diced scallions and a perfectly fried egg.

NOTE: There are few things in life that can't be improved upon by the addition of a fried egg. Sandwiches, salads, funerals, you name it. Fried eggs are the best.

So there it was. I got rid of some leftover vegetables and rice, and made one more dent in that giant jar of fermented cabbage.  Not to mention the fact that it was both delicious and nutritious. I enjoy playing around with leftovers. There's not a lot of pressure to make everything perfect, because, face it, you were probably going to throw some of that stuff out eventually anyway, right? So gather up all those bits and bobs taking up valuable space in your refrigerator and get creative, I say.  And if you botch the job, just realize that you live in New Orleans, and there are about 7 million restaurants that would be happy to take your order. What do you have to lose?

What's your favorite thing to do with leftovers?


Native New Orleans food writer Scott Gold, author of The Shameless Carnivore, has written for Gourmet, The New Orleans Advocate, Gambit, ThrillistEdible Brooklyn, Tasting Table, The Faster Times, and other publications. His Food Porn Friday column for NolaVie offers a weekly mouth-watering photo essay designed to start culinary conversations in the Big Easy. Find him on Twitter @scottgold.