Anyone that thinks people shouldn’t play with their food simply doesn’t have the imagination of one uber-creative Spotify user.
On June 30, Noah Conk, a founding UX and product designer for a gaming startup, shared a recipe for kimchi fried rice — aka bokkeum-bap — in a marvelously unique way: through music. By making a playlist on streaming music platform Spotify, Conk, who lives in unceded Ramaytush and Ohlone Land on the San Francisco Peninsula, thoroughly describes his go-to recipe for the Korean comfort food.
“I don’t know why I did this, but I made a Spotify playlist on how to make kimchi fried rice (to the best of my capabilities),” tweeted Conk. Conk clearly describes the ingredients needed, quantity, and how to combine it all in a remarkably descriptive way, considering the recipe is composed solely of published singles by musical artists.
“I’ve always wanted to make this type of playlist,” Conk said in an email to TODAY Food. He mentions that he was inspired by other viral playlist recipes for banana bread and sandwiches made early in the pandemic by folks during the lockdown, but thought those playlists weren’t descriptive enough — or in some cases, at all.
Needing to know the rough measurements and amounts for consistency, Conk says he realized that his playlist needed an ingredients and instructions list, which was easy to delineate thanks to singles by rappers YNW Melly, G-Eazy and YG who have songs with those exact titles. By featuring other artists that have songs with titles like “Unsalted Butter,” “SPAM In a Can” and of course “Kimchi,” Conk’s recipe was meticulously completed to almost thrillingly minute detail.
Here's the full playlist:
“I lost track of time with how long it took me to compile this playlist,” Conk said. He adds that the recipe he uses is one he’s gone to for years which was inspired by Chris Cho, a Philly-based chef and YouTube personality.
Conk also said, while the response has been mostly positive, some users take umbrage with his use of “Unsalted Butter,” both because of taste preferences and also maybe because people wanted to vibe to the world-famous BTS single “Butter” as they made the dish. Conk says that he uses unsalted butter in his recipe for more flavor control, lending the less-salty lipid to increased umami. “Kimchi fried rice is a pretty simple recipe, but there are some nuances in the steps when making it,” he said.
If you’re wondering if Conk listened to the playlist all the way through, he answered in the affirmative, stressing that he was intentional with all of the song choices in the recipe playlist. Conk told TODAY he made sure the playlist had a natural flow and that there are no sore thumbs when it came to song transitions, meaning that you can listen to the playlist as you make this fried rice dish without having to make a dreaded mid-sauté song skip.
“I listened to a lot of songs with the title ‘Rice,’” Conk added. He says that there are some subtle nods to his past and his music preferences overall, and he slipped in a few favorites for people like him who are fans of certain K-pop groups.
As for if Conk has any other recipe playlists in the works, that remains to be seen, although, according to him, many folks have been asking. Conk said he’s trying to figure out more complex recipes while maintaining a balance regarding the length of each playlist.
He says that a post on private Asian Facebook community Subtle Asian Traits has been getting a lot of buzz, and as of this writing, 3,652 people have saved his playlist to their Spotify library. That’s a lot of fried rice.
“The best responses I’ve received are from the more independent artists that are on this playlist and how their stream traffic has been at an all-time high," Conk said. "Those are probably the most meaningful comments."