We arrived in South Korea with empty stomachs and tired bodies. It would be a few hours before meeting up with our friends who were gracious enough to host us for a week so we decided to address both of our problems in one go by taking a rest at one of the restaurants in the Seoul airport. Our spirits were instantly lifted when we sat down to a large bowl of kimchi fried rice. While we did have a little trouble eating it with chopsticks we quickly devoured the tasty dish. We decided then and there that kimchi fried rice would have to become one of our staples at home.
The trickiest part of making kimchi fried rice at home is gathering the authentic flavors. You will need to hunt down an Asian market in your area and better yet if there is specifically a Korean market, go there. But don’t worry, if you can’t find an Asian/Korean market nearby there are some substitutes that get pretty close.
1 napa cabbage
1/2 cup salt
8 ounces daikon radish
1/3 cup Korean red pepper powder
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced Korean salted shrimp
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 cups rice
2 cups water
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup kimchi juice (bought separately or poured from your kimchi in the jar)
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbl sesame oil
1 chopped scallions
1 tbl sesame seeds
If you have trouble finding Korean red pepper powder try mixing cayenne powder and chili powder in equal portions and add red pepper flakes. This will get kinda close. Instead of the salted shrimp you could substitute anchovy paste and substitute oyster sauce for fish sauce. Again these substitutes will only get kinda close but your kimchi will still be quite delicious.
Making the kimchi
Making kimchi is very simple but takes some time management. In total this process will take at least 8 days. But don’t freak out. Your active participation should be less than 1 hour.
Cut your cabbage into quarters lengthwise. Then chop each quarter width-wise roughly every inch.
Soak the cabbage in water with the salt for 12-24 hours. You should make sure the cabbage is covered by the water with only some cabbage floating on top.
Drain the water from the cabbage and press the cabbage with paper towels and then place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl.
Cut the daikon radish in approximately inch long matchsticks.
Mix all ingredients with the cabbage and work them all together by hand to ensure all the cabbage is covered.
Pack your mixture into a large glass container that has a strong seal. Store the kimchi in a cool place for a day. A cool garage is perfect for this. After a day open the top to let gases vent and then reseal the jar. Now place the jar in your refrigerator for at least one week before eating.
Making the fried rice
Now that your kimchi has been fermenting for at least a week I’m sure you are excited to have a taste. Making kimchi fried rice is pretty simple and results in a hearty savory and possibly spicy dish.
Leftover day old rice is best to use for this dish but if you don’t have any on hand you can make some fresh rice and use it as well. Simply heat 2 cups water on high until it is boiling vigorously and then add 1 cup rice into the pot. When the water reaches the vigorously boiling again (which will be soon) turn the heat down to Low. After 10-15 minutes your rice should be done cooking. You will know it is done if you move away some rice to see the bottom of the pot and there is no water remaining.
Set your rice to the side.
Heat a wide pan on medium and then add the vegetable oil. The oil will heat up very quickly.
Add your kimchi and using a wooden spatula keep stirring the kimchi around for about 1 minute.
Add 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup kimchi juice, and the rice. If you want to really make your fried rice spicy you can add more of the red pepper powder or add gochujang. Gochujang is also called hot pepper paste in English and is available at Korean and Asian markets. Keep stirring this mixture for 7-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the sesame oil. Plate your kimchi rice.
Now fry an egg for each serving of kimchi fried rice. The egg should have a runny yolk with firm whites.
Top each serving with a fried egg and then garnish with chopped scallion and sesame seeds. You could also add soy sauce, sriracha, or almost anything you like (try adding chopped bacon for a meaty crunch).
When you sit down to feast on this dish start by breaking the yolk so the creamy egg forms a sauce over the rice. Enjoy!