Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi bokkeumbap)

Kimchi fried rice #vegetarian #Korean #food

Korean food is having its moment in the sun. I was in Woolworths the other day and I even saw the hot pepper paste gochujang on the shelves, when something hits the shelves of your local supermarket you really know its gone mainstream. I’m fortunate enough to have a good Korean mini-mart nearby so I’ve been able to go down and source obscure ingredients which are not available in the other local Asian marts in my area. There really is a different vibe in the Korean mart with Asian pop blaring and cooler, hipper shop attendants. I love browsing the shelves which has a huge variety of pepper pastes, seaweed, pickles and kimchi alongside the aisles of bulk washing powder and other household items.

I’m fascinated by the differences and similarities between Japanese and Korean food. Japanese food feels more refined but Korean food has a more robust simplicity, plus they love their spicy pepper which is something unheard of in Japanese food. While most Asian food cultures see brown rice as something only fit for cattle feed, Koreans love brown rice and other whole grains. A Korean friend from my son’s primary school, used to buy brown rice in thirty kilo bags. She was living with her extended family – parents, younger sister along with her husband and four hungry boys but still that is a serious amount of brown rice to to get through and shows the dedication Koreans can have to the whole grain rice. One of my favourite episodes of the Chef’s Table features the Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan and the vegan temple food she makes using ingredients she grows in her wild and anarchic food garden. Jeong’s cooking utilises ancient Korean food processing techniques of fermentation – soy sauce, kimchi, miso and pepper pastes are the back bone of her simple, elegant cuisine.

My cooking and life is a universe away from the quiet, meditative style of Jeong Kwan, but this kimchi rice has the some of the simplicity and deliciousness of her temple food. If you have the ingredients on hand you can whip this up in five minutes and with a fried egg on the side it makes a great, substantive one person meal. This is a basic recipe but you can add extra protein – tofu, bacon, seafood and even spam!  (The spam must be an influence from the American military bases in South Korea)  I’ve seen recipes that saute the rice and kimchi in butter, something I haven’t tried yet but sounds oddly delicious. I prefer using brown rice for fried rice. I don’t eat brown rice all the time but when I get a craving I cook a big pot and eat it over a few days, perfect for kimchi fried rice. I’ve also just discovered a good supermarket brown rice, Sun Rice Doongara which is an Australian low GI rice variety that is excellent for fried rice.

This recipe comes from my go to Korean cooking blog Maangchi where all unfamiliar ingredients are linked to extensive descriptions, essential for Korean food novices, and something that will set you up to navigate the aisles of your local Korean mart like a pro.

Kimchi fried rice #vegan #korean #food

Kimchi fried rice

  • 3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
  • 1 cup of kimchi (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup of kimchi juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil ( I use light olive oil)
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 green onion finely sliced
  • 1 sheet of toasted nori seaweed, shredded
  1. Heat vegetable oil in pan, stir fry kimchi for one minute.
  2. Add rice, kimchi juice, water, gochujang and stir fry for about five minutes until all ingredients are combined.
  3. Remove from heat add sesame oil, garnish with toasted sesame seeds, green onion and seaweed.
  4. Serve immediately.
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