I always have some cooked rice, in the freezer or kept warm in the rice cooker. This is pretty common for many Korean families without them really having second thoughts about it. It’s like air and water that I only notice the lack of its existence on the rare occasions I run out of it.
Of course freshly made rice is the best. Yet leftover rice, as there is always some, comes in handy in many ways, from a lazy meal option of simply warming it in the microwave to a ready ingredient for stir-fried rice for which cold rice works better.
Nurungji can be another delicious derivative made with leftover rice, the scorched part that happens at the bottom of the pot when rice is hard-boiled. It’s also the prized part at the bottom of dolsot (돌솥; stone bowl) bibimbap that keeps you in anticipation the moment you start digging into the melange of rice, vegetables and gochujang sauce with a dose of hot sizzle that adds to the excitement.
It’s become so widely popular that dried nurungji is sold separately in grocery stores, but it’s also easy to make at home. Just spread a thin layer of cooked rice in a pan and give enough time for the rice to turn golden brown on both sides over low heat. Then it can be made into nurungji juk (누룽지 죽), a simple rice porridge with subtle nutty flavor that is easy on the stomach. Another nurungji variation is made by deep-frying then rolling them in sugar – what could be so bad about hot, cruncy, sweet nurungji snack?
Here is another option. This happens to complement icy cold beer so well on a hot summer day, based on my numerous pairng attempts. It’s cruncy from nurungji, salty from Parmesan cheese, extra-nutty from black sesame seeds, and if you’d like, with a bit of heat from gochugaru (고추 가루; Korean chili powder).
To make nurungji chips, just make sure that white short grain rice (a.k.a. sushi rice) is part of the rice base so it has enough starch to keep the rice grains together. I usually mix sweet brown rice (현미 찹쌀; hyeon mi chap ssal) and white rice for my daily consumption, which is what I used for nurungji chips here.