Fried rice was one of the first dishes I made when I started cooking for myself after college. It is a great way to use up extra vegetables you have hanging around, is really fast and cheap to make, and, unless you over season it, you can’t really mess it up. Now that being said, I didn’t (and still don’t) have a wok or a gas stove so I learned how to cook it in a non-stick pan and then my cast iron skillet. It isn’t authentic but it is still delicious.
I have been making Kale & Bacon Omelet Rice for 4 or 5 years now. It came about for two reasons:
First: Kale is cheap. Even organic kale is cheap. It usually runs anywhere from $1 to $1.50 a bunch at grocery stores (I know Whole Foods is more expensive then this, which is why I don’t buy my kale there!). Thus for a poor graduate student cooking for another poor graduate student, it was a great way to get our vegetables. As a result we ate a whole lot of kale in graduate school and I tried really hard to come up with new delicious ways to prepare it. One of these ways was putting it into fried rice. (I now grow kale too. This post came about because we have a plethora of kale right now because it over wintered in the garden – not sure how because I didn’t cover it and this is Colorado for goodness sake, it got cold and snowy! Gardening win! – and was starting to go to flower so I picked it all.)
Now it was ok in fried rice, but I thought it didn’t go well with the typical chicken fried rice we would make. I didn’t like it there amongst the carrots, peas, and corn. So I went back to the drawing board of what I liked with my kale – garlic and onion cooked in fat (especially bacon fat). And when you want things cooked in bacon fat, you need bacon cooked down, oh and I wonder how rice would taste cooked in bacon fat, oh my goodness I like it, wait let’s put the bacon in as the meat product. *ding ding ding*
Second: Why omelet rice and not just fried rice? I am obsessed with Japan. I took Japanese history, art, and religion classes in college (turns out if I had only taken a year of language I would have been an asian studies minor), but my food obsession has grown from reading manga and watching anime/youtube/food documentaries. As I read or watch something with a food I had never heard of or tried I wonder what it would taste like, then research it, and try to recreate it.
Omurice was one of those foods. I first came across it in the manga Kaichou Wa Maid-sama!. It shows up A LOT as a dish served in the maid cafe. Now most omurice recipes I found had ketchup mixed in the rice, but Mr. Physics doesn’t like ketchup in rice. Thus I would put normal fried rice wrapped in an egg (plus I had issues cooking egg in the same pan as the fried rice and always cooked it in another pan anyway…hey eggs are hard to learn ok!). I would then put ketchup, and sometimes Kewpie (Japanese mayonnaise) too, on top on mine and he would eat his plain. What we discovered though was the kale & bacon fried rice wrapped in the egg with ketchup on top was the best iteration! It is smokey, crunchy, with so much umami and is healthy too. (Note: Mr. Physics now eats this with the ketchup on top and when we were low on ketchup when I made this dish on Tuesday he expressed his sadness that I did not buy ketchup at the store earlier in the day 😂)
Kale & Bacon Omelet Rice
Makes 4 servings
4 slices of bacon
2 tablespoons bacon fat (or vegetable oil)
3-4 cups of cooked rice
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or butter)
1 small onion, diced
3 gloves of garlic, diced
4 cups of kale, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce1Yes soy sauce has gluten, kind of. Gluten is so low in soy sauce, because of the fermentation, that if you don’t have celiac disease and are just on a gluten free diet…just cook with it. This of course is just my opinion and you can get gluten free soy sauce options.
1 teaspoon white pepper
salt to taste
2 eggs per serving (8 total for all the rice)
- Cut bacon slices in thin strips and place them in the cast iron skillet. Turn the heat on medium and cook bacon until it is crispy. Remove bacon and place on cloth towel. Pour bacon fat into jar.
- Add two tablespoons bacon fat from the jar to the still hot cast iron skillet. Allow it to come to just smoking then add rice. Stir continuously for 3 minutes until rice is covered in oil and slightly browning. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- To skillet add 1 tablespoon bacon fat (or butter if you don’t have enough) then immediately add in diced onion. Cook until onion begins to be translucent, about 5-8 minutes.
- Add in garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant then add in kale. Cook until kale is desired consistency, about 5 minutes.
- Add back in rice, soy sauce, and white pepper and stir all together. Taste. If it needs more pepper or salt add until you reach your desired flavor then flatten against the bottom of the cast iron. Turn down the heat to low.
- While rice is sitting heat up another pan. Crack two eggs in a bowl. Add a splash of milk/water and salt and pepper to taste, then mix. Once the pan is warm add enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the eggs2Sorry for being a little vague on the temperatures for the stove and amount of butter here. I have found that I have to learn my stove to cook eggs well and every stove is different. I could tell you, “medium low heat until the pan is warm then add 2 teaspoons butter and cook the egg 2 minutes covered, turning off the heat 1 minute in” but you might not find that works for you. It certainly isn’t how I used to cook my eggs on the other stoves I have cooked on in the past. Do what you do to get the best flat egg!. Spread egg fully on bottom of the pan then cover and allow to cook for 2 minutes. Lift the top. If the top of the egg is still wet, cover and cook another 30 seconds or so until egg is fully cooked then remove and place on a plate. Repeat if making multiple servings.3When cooking for Mr. Physics and I at the same time I cheat and whisk 4 eggs together at once and cook them at once. I then split the omelet down the middle and place it on top of fried rice. I compromise the beauty of a folded over egg for the ease of cooking so we can eat warm food at the same time.
- Add bacon bits to fried rice then stir again. Spoon rice into one side of the egg then fold egg over rice. Add as much ketchup as you want – even write something fun on top – and serve immediately!
Of course you can eat the kale & bacon fried rice without the omelet. It is still delicious and a fun accompaniment to dishes that go with that smokey flavor. You can even just add egg to it and not eat it omelet style. I just prefer the omelet much more.
Oh and I am obsessed with this onigiri towel from Daiso. Daiso is a Japanese dollar store with so many amazing things priced a $1.50 unless otherwise labeled (and no they aren’t promoting me to say anything…I am just squeeing over the towel in the pictures as I revise this post and figured others might too). I don’t need a box of hand towels, just one!!!! I should have bought ALL the hand towel designs last time I was at the one in the bay area not just three 😭.