Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
Do you like spicy food? Crave comfort food? Think those are two separate categories of edibles? This kimchi fried rice says otherwise.
If you’re not yet sure about kimchi (Korean spicy fermented cabbage) this dish could be just the right gateway drug for you. Once sautéed, kimchi loses some of its pungent harshness, but answers back with an addictive tangy spicy warmth that deepens with a little time spent sizzling.
Kimchi is so flavorful, it makes the perfect fried rice base. No need to mix in egg or smother it with soy sauce. You could probably dispense with every other ingredient; all you really need is kimchi, rice, and heat. It would still taste so good.
This recipe has a little more than that going for it, though. I found it in a Japanese cookbook of all places, and just modified it a bit to be more like dishes I’ve enjoyed in restaurants in Korea: I added sesame oil and a fried egg on top!* This time I opted for shrimp, but I’ve also made it with chicken before (and the original recipe called for pork). Or leave the protein out entirely. Like I said, all you really need is kimchi, rice, and heat to make this spicy, tangy comfort food.
* In my opinion, many, many savory dishes can be improved with a fried egg on top. Think about it…
Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokkeumbap)
(Adapted from a Japanese-language cookbook called “One Dish Cooking“– in Japanese: ひと皿完結まんぷくごはん.)
~ 3-4 cups cooked rice
~ 1 cup of kimchi, chopped
~ 1/2 lb. pork or chicken (cut into bite-size), or shrimp
~ 4-5 whites-of-scallions, finely sliced (or small piece of an onion, diced)
~ 1-2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
~ 1 tsp. sesame oil
~ 2 tsp. soy sauce
~ 1-2 Tbsp. kochujang (Korean chili paste)
~ pinch of salt, to taste
~ 1/2 bunch of buchu (garlic chives) with ends discarded, chopped in inch-long pieces
~ greens of scallions, to garnish
~ fried egg, to serve on top
~ shredded seaweed, to garnish
Note: Many people assert that fried rice tastes better with day-old refrigerated rice, and I do like to use that in Chinese-style fried rice, where I mix in more soy sauce and some egg, but for this recipe I’ve found that warm just-cooked short-grained rice also works great!
How to make it:
1. If using chicken, pork, or raw shrimp, heat canola or vegetable oil in a large/deep frying pan over high heat. Then add meat and cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes until the meat changes color and begins to look nearly cooked. Add more oil if necessary.
If making vegetarian, or using pre-cooked shrimp, simply heat the oil over high heat, then proceed to step #2.
2. Add the scallion whites or the onion, and cook while stirring for 1-2 minutes. Next add kimchi and, optionally, kochujang, and cook while stirring for 3-5 minutes until the kimchi starts to get soft. (Then add pre-cooked shrimp, and stir to coat with kimchi flavors.)
3. Add the rice, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Then mix well until the rice is coated with the kimchi. (You can always add a little bit of the brine-y liquid from the kimchi jar if it seems like there’s not enough color or spice for all of your rice!)
4. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, for just a few more minutes until the rice is warmed through. Add the garlic chives in the last minute of cooking, and stir well until they start to wilt. Season with salt, to taste.
5. Serve topped with a fried egg and sprinkled with scallions or shredded seaweed.