One of the joys of being here in Utah with my family, is being able to cook for them.
Daughter Robyn and son-in-law Adam have both gone back to work in preparation for the start of the new school year, so they enjoy coming home to a home-cooked meal each night.
There are the exceptions, though, and last Tuesday was one such. Robyn and Adam spent two years working in Korea (that’s where they met), and in that time, they developed a love for Korean food, and that love has endured to this day. I recall when they visited us in between Korean contracts, they made dak galbi (stir-fried spicy chicken) a fiercely hot dish – the chicken is marinated in gochujang (a fiery red chilli paste) – served with sliced cabbage, sweet potato, spring onions, perilla leaves and rice cakes.
Adam still refers to it as “that dish which melted off your face”, and he isn’t far wrong.
They made it relatively mild for their palates, but since they were eating in Korea all the time, they had far more heat tolerance than we did. I remember chugging beer like there was no tomorrow, and sweating on the top line as I manfully ate what was set before me.
But with their daughter Erin having a delicate palate – as do all five-year-olds, Robyn produced a really mild dish – that amounts to little other than steak, egg and chips, Korean style, with the chips being replaced by kimchi fried rice.
And it took all of 45 minutes to prepare and serve this lovely dish.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
4 x sirloin steaks: about 200g each
4 free range eggs
1 cup Jasmine rice
1/2 tsp salt
250g cabbage leaves: washed and thinly sliced
4 spring onions: sliced at an angle, green and white parts separated
4 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tbsp gochujang: yes, that’s the same fiery Korean red chilli paste. A good substitute is provided below.
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp kimchi spice blend (see below)
Canola oil (for frying)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 tbsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp sugar, moistened with soya sauce
(kimchi spice blend)
1 tbsp gochugaru: Korean red chilli powder or 1-2 tsp red chilli powder (Gochugaru is quite mild in comparison with our usual chilli powder)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
Put the rice in a small pot with two cups of water and the salt. Bring to a brisk boil, then simmer covered on a low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the kimchi. Combine all the kimchi spice blend ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Combine in a large mixing bowl, the cabbage, white spring onion bottoms, rice vinegar and up to two tbsp of the kimchi spice blend, depending on how spicy you want the dish. Put the remainder in a well sealed bottle for future use.
Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat the cabbage. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to marinate for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pat the steaks dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat your favourite steak pan, and add two tbsp of canola oil. Fry the steaks for between two and four minutes a side, thickness dependent, to medium rare.
Transfer to a cutting board, covered with foil and a kitchen towel, to rest while you make the kimchi fried rice.
Add the sesame oil to the steak pan, along with as much gochujang as you feel you need – remember it is fiercely hot.
Fry for up to a minute on medium-high heat until the aromas are released.
Add the rice, and fry for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, until combined.
Add the kimchi including liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Fry for another minute or two until combined, then check and adjust seasoning.
If the kimchi appears to be too dry, stir in a tsp or two of rice vinegar to moisten, before adding it to the pan.
Divide between four warm plates and set aside. Heat your egg pan, and add a plash of canola oil.
Fry the four eggs as you like them, and while they are doing, slice the steaks about 1/2 cm thick, across the grain.
Divide the steak between the four plates, top with a fried egg, and garnish with the sliced green spring onions.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 25-30 minutes