What is kimchi fried rice?
Kimchi fried rice or kimchi-bokkeum-bap (김치 볶음밥) is a type of bokkeum-bap, that is, a fried and flavored rice dish popular in Korea.
Kimchi fried rice is mainly composed of these two ingredients but can also contain fried pieces of pork, vegetables and aromatic sauces. It can also be garnished with a fried egg making it even more delicious.
One of the advantages of this nutritious and affordable dish is that it can be cooked with leftover rice. In Korea, a more fermented kimchi is used, the taste of which develops the overall flavor of the dish.
Fermentation that has lasted for too long is also used for cooking another dish called kimchi jiigae. Kimchi and rice generally develop new flavors when refrigerated and some prefer them to freshly made preparations.
It is one of the favorite dishes of students and single people because it is prepared quickly and easily. It is mainly consumed at lunch. When ordered outside, it is often accompanied by a comforting soup called danmuji.
It can also be accompanied by miyeok-guk, a wakame soup or kongnamul-guk, a soy bean soup. In summer, it is the white radish-based kimchi called dongchimi, which is used as a garnish for this dish.
What is the origin of kimchi fried rice?
Kimchi is already mentioned in the oldest book of Chinese poetry known to date. According to some historians, it is believed that Asian people already consumed kimchi 3000 years ago. It is believed that the addition of spices to kimchi dates back to the 12th century.
Finally, the introduction of peppers that characterizes kimchi today dates back to the 17th century. Kimchi fried rice has grown throughout history from its main ingredient, kimchi. It is present today at most banquets and on the table of Koreans of all generations.
How to prepare kimchi fried rice
The ideal way to prepare kimchi fried rice like most fried rice dishes is to prepare all the ingredients in advance and combine them when the time is right. The first step is to cook steam the rice or prepare it with a rice cooker.
Separately, it is necessary to cut the meat into regularly shaped cubes. It can be bacon, ham or spam, a cooked ham sold in a box, originating in the United States but popular in many countries.
The kimchi should ideally be baechu gimchi, spicy napa cabbage that is lacto-fermented in brine as is done in Europe for sauerkraut which, let’s remember, comes from China.
Cabbage that has gone through this process can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is also very healthy as it is rich in probiotics, vitamin A, thiamin B1, riboflavin B2, calcium and iron.
Other ingredients are used : onions, carrots, and scallions. The vegetables are browned for a few minutes, to which are gradually added meat, kimchi, soy sauce, gochujang pepper paste and then rice, which is already cooked.
Once the rice is well cooked and fried in the different spices, you can add a number of toppings such as sesame seeds, roasted gim (dried seaweed), oil, chopped scallions and possibly fried eggs.
What are the variants of kimchi fried rice?
Although the meat used in the preparation of kimchi fried rice is generally pork, it can sometimes be replaced by beef, chicken or seafood such as canned tuna and shrimp.
Vegetarian alternatives exist since the meat can also be replaced with mushrooms. In this case, the dish will take the name of beoseot-kimchi-bokkeum-bap, literally fried rice with kimchi mushrooms.
Vegetables can also include chopped garlic, fresh napa cabbage, cucumbers or green bell pepper. Finally, the cooking oil can be a vegetable oil or sesame oil, which has a more pronounced flavor that may not be to everyone’s taste.
In Korea, there are many different bokkeum-bap. There are for example the dak galbi (rice and chicken), the nakji-bokkeum (octopus and rice), the gimgary (seaweed and rice), the saeu-bokkeum-bap (shrimp and rice), the regular bokkeum-bap made only with rice or the fully vegetarian yachae-bokkeum-bap.
These dishes also resemble Japanese chahan, rice dishes imported by Chinese immigrants to the island in the 1860s.
Kimchi chahan is very similar to the Korean kimchi fried rice. In China, fried rice dishes are numerous but they differ from the Korean versions because what characterizes Chinese fried rice is the presence of scrambled eggs.
- 4 oz. spam bacon or diced ham
- 8 oz. kimchi (preferably baechu gimchi)
- 4 tablespoons kimchi juice
- ½ small onion diced
- 2 scallions chopped
- 1 small carrot finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon gochujang (hot pepper paste)
- 2 cups short-grain rice steamed
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 fried eggs hot
- 1 sheet roasted gim (dried seaweed)
- Vegetable oil
- Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the pieces of spam, bacon or ham.
- Brown until the pieces are lightly golden.
- Add the onion and 1 scallion and brown quickly over high heat.
- Add the kimchi, carrot, kimchi juice, soy sauce and gochujang. Stir and sauté for 4 minutes.
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and mix.
- Add the rice and reduce over medium-low heat. Stir until everything is well mixed and cook for 4 minutes. Once the rice is evenly coated with seasoning, increase the heat and continue to fry the rice, stirring occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the sesame oil and half the sesame seeds.
- Serve and garnish with a fried egg, the rest of the sesame seeds, strips of dried seaweed and the rest of the scallion.
It is best to use a well-fermented kimchi for the rich, robust flavor it develops.