Some of the most famously comforting dishes originated from making use of excess ingredients and leftovers; kimchi bokkeumbap (fried rice) falls firmly into that category. Kimchi and rice are two of the most common ingredients in any Korean kitchen, so it’s no wonder that there’s often the issue of overripe kimchi and hardening rice. Leftover rice arguably makes the best fried rice, since it’s drier and less likely to form sticky lumps whilst frying.
Kimchi is Korea’s national dish, traditionally comprised of spiced fermented vegetables—usually napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber—according to season and region. Whereas this shortcut recipe doesn’t yield a kimchi quite like the authentically ripened and fermented version, it’s good for a quick fix and starting point for those intimidated by fermentation. I’m planning to post a “real” kimchi recipe in the future!
The beauty of making your own version of kimchi is the freedom and creativity to use whatever is seasonal and local to your own region. Similarly, kimchi bokkeumbap is easily a blank canvas for using whatever vegetables or meat you desire; I’ve seen it made with anything from bacon to tinned tuna. Spring onions (also known as scallions, green onions, etc.) are appropriately in season here, perfectly in sync with this recipe as it’s part of many traditional Korean recipes.
- 2 T sea salt
- 50g (~1/2 head) cabbage, cored and shredded
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-inch knob of ginger, grated
- 2 T gochugaru / red pepper flakes
- 1 T unrefined sugar
- 1 T fish sauce
- 3 T rice vinegar
Toss shredded cabbage and salt in a large bowl or colander, then set aside for at least 20 minutes to let the salt draw out moisture and wilt the cabbage. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients. Squeeze out excess liquid from the cabbage before tossing all together in an air-tight, non-metallic container. Refrigerate overnight for a riper taste and keep handy for up to a month in the fridge.
Kimchi Fried Rice
- vegetable oil
- sesame oil
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked and day-old
- 1/2 cup kimchi, juices included (see above recipe)
- 1 t soy sauce
- 1 t gochujang, optional
- 1 egg
- 1 scallion, chopped to garnish
Heat vegetable oil over medium-high and fry onions until translucent. Add garlic, kimchi, and a drizzle of sesame oil, cooking until fragrant.
Add in brown rice, stirring to coat grains with oil. As the rice fries and becomes golden, add kimchi juices as needed to deglaze the pan.
Towards the end, crack an egg and cover the pan loosely with some foil until egg is cooked sunny-side-up. Alternatively, this eggs can be fried separately and then served on top of each rice bowl, ready to induce a yolky mess of goodness. Garnish with scallions and serve hot.