I simply must share with you one of the easiest go-to meals ever. And the most addictive. It's comfort food like none other, and it probably ranks as one of the most frequently made dishes in the repertoire of Korean bachelors and students. It's kimchi fried rice, or kimchi bokkeumbap (김치 볶음밥).
Visiting Korea last summer, I was so thrilled to get to have kimchi for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Now, not everybody in the States has as strong an affinity for this spicy fermented cabbage as I have, but wondrously, cooking kimchi (whether by boiling it in a soup, or frying it up with rice) removes some of the pungent fermented aroma that is so off-putting for many Westerners and transforms it into a downright flavorful vegetable. The savory taste of cooked kimchi is truly delicious.
One of my favorite memories from my time in Korea was sitting down to breakfast with a colleague and his family. His wife had made kimchi bokkeumbap for breakfast, and it was one of the tastiest meals ever. I was delighted when she told me how to make it, and since then, I've made it a number of times, the most recent occasion being a breakfast for me and my brother. We sat down to steaming bowls of rice fried with kimchi and sauteed onions and topped with a sesame-scented fried egg. Ah, it was so delicious, breaking the yolk and stirring the egg into the rice, and eating it by big spoonfuls! I can happily report that this recipe is brother-approved.
Well-fermented kimchi yields the best results, as it provides a depth of flavor not had from freshly-made kimchi. And cold rice yields the best texture (as freshly steamed rice could result in a mushy mash), so this tasty and speedy meal is a convenient use for leftovers. Enjoy!
Kimchi Fried Rice (김치 볶음밥)
Makes 2 servings
sesame oil, for cooking
1 cup diced onion
2 cups cold, cooked rice
1-2 Tbs. gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
1 1/2 cups chopped kimchi (and 1-2 Tbs. juices)
minced green onion for garnish (optional)
In a large non-stick pan, saute onion in a little sesame oil until onions are cooked and translucent. Add the rice and stir to break up any clumps of rice and mix together with the onion. Gochujang burns easily in the pan, so for best preparation, make an even bed of rice in the pan and then scoop the gochujang on top. Add the chopped kimchi and any collected juices on top and use the kimchi to loosen up the gochujang and slowly stir it into the rice.
As rice is cooking, fry up the eggs in some sesame oil in a separate pan. Divide fried rice among serving bowls, sprinkle with green onions, and top with a fried egg.