Wednesday, 31 August 2011

김치 볶음밥 (Kimchi Fried Rice)

I did it! 

Six months have passed since I left the fine Republic of Korea, and last night, for the very first time, I made a homemade Korean dish. As I alluded to in an earlier post, it's something I've been intentionally waiting to do, but ever since I discovered bottled kimchi at my local Asian grocer (Tian Phat), I've been dying to try making Korean food at home.

As it happens, the Korean cookbook I bought right before leaving Seoul doesn't have a recipe for one of my favourite dishes: Kimchi fried rice (otherwise known as kimchi bokkeumbap, or even more so as 김치 볶음밥). I suspect, now that I've made it, that the absence of this recipe can be attributed to the fact that it's so easy to make. Alas, the cookbook will have to wait for another night, and another cooking adventure.

So where does any new dish in the kitchen begin, if not from a cookbook or your imagination? On Google, of course, and subsequently, on Blogger. I found a very straightforward recipe on the blog of cookbook author Bee Yinn Low. The pictures and recipe looked and sounded exactly like the kimchi bokkeumbap I used to eat in Seoul, so I figured it was a good recipe to start with, even if it wasn't directly from a Korean website or source. Given that this recipe only serves one, however, and that I'm a fiend for kimchi, garlic, and sesame oil, I did end up adjusting the recipe to feed two, as well as to suit my individual taste buds.

Kimchi Bokkeumbap

Some of the staples needed for Kimchi fried rice: Soy sauce, sesame oil, green onion, eggs, KIMCHI, garlic, and onion.

Bless you, Kimchi Canada!

Kimchi Fried Rice
adapted from Bee Yinn Low's recipe at Rasa Malaysia

Serves 2 

2-3 tablespoons oil, for frying
2 large eggs
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 small onion, finely diced
500 ml (1 bottle) kimchi, cut into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons kimchi juice
4 cups steamed white rice
2 tablespoon soy sauce, or to taste
2-3 tablespoons sesame oil, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 stalks scallion, cut into small rounds


1. Pre-heat two pans: a wok (or a large, deep frying pan) for the fried rice and a frying pan for the eggs.
2. Add oil to the wok and sauté the garlic and onion until aromatic. Add the kimchi and stir briefly before adding the rice. Combine well. Add the kimchi juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, and scallions to the wok. Fold together until well blended with the rice.
3. Meanwhile, in the frying pan, add oil and fry the eggs sunny side up. Slide out of the pan and set aside.
4. Dish rice out and serve immediately with the egg on top of the rice.

Happiness on a plate.

Even F. wanted to take a shot at photographing our dinner! Kimchi bokkeumbap from his perspective.

I can't even begin to tell you how happy and nostalgic I was eating this last night (hence all the glamour shots!). Now that I know how easy it is - and as I later announced to F. - we'll likely be eating this at least once a week, from now until the end of time.

As I was eating my bokkeumbap, however, I remembered a few touches that were missing, like a sprinkling of sesame seeds and shredded kim (dried seaweed) over the top. I'd probably have added even more kimchi, too, if I had any left. I've also heard of making this dish with pork, bacon, or fried in pork fat.  

Anyone have some family secrets, tips, or recipes they can share with me to make my bokkeumbap even better next time?

Finally, a confession: I spied a pouch of kimchi spice mix at Tian Phat for making homemade kimchi. It even had a recipe on the back! In my excitement, I bought it, but what was I thinking? Am I really going to make kimchi at home? If I did, then I could really say my kimchi fried rice was homemade! Anyone selling kimchi fridges in Halifax, or a couple of giant, clay pots I can bury in the backyard?

F. doesn't know what he's gotten himself into. Poor guy.


  1. Oh my good...this is my favorite type of meal! Rice, a runny yolk, kimchi heaven!!!

  2. Always a fan of yours ;) you're much more korean than i am! haha love the kimchi canada! try adding bits and pieces of spam or tuna or pork next time! <3

  3. you know, I've never had kimchi:( I've never had any Korean food come to think of it...this looks delicious to come to Macedonia and open a Korean restaurant? It will be the first one here:)

  4. (Yay, a post I can actually comment on!)

    The sesame oil really makes this dish I think (is that sesame oil in your photo? It doesn't look anything like sesame oil I've used in Korea...). If you can spare the sesame oil (it's expencive) you can fry the rice and kim chi in it and it's even tastier!

    And my favorite is not just regular kim on top, but the crumbly slightly sweet/salty kim (seaweed) on top (like the one that sometimes came with preschool lunch).

    Oh, and don't forget that how fermented the kimchi is affects the taste a lot. I prefer fresher kim chi for this particular dish, but I'm sure everyone has their own preference (though I'm sure Koreans have a particular ^best time^ in the kim chi life span to make this dish as they do for every dish)

    Just curious, how much do ingredients for Korean food cost up in your neck of the woods? And how does it compare to Korea?

  5. Oh, I forgot, I blogged about this a long time ago too!

  6. i totally agree with 조안나 because fermented kimchi's much better for cooking, people usually kimchi fried rice and kimchi chiggae to get rid of kimch that are too fermented haha(also to eat delicious food whenever you have fermented kimchi) but usually if you buy kimchi abroad it's likely to be already fermented.but if not, let it sit outside the fridge for over night or maybe a day and half, then it gets naturally fermented!

    It looks sooo good!! haha i didnt expect myself to wanna go to canada to eat someone's kimchi fried rice.. but I do now!! miss you lady :)

  7. Looks awesome! The kimbap shop would be proud.

  8. Grrrl, this reminds me of the "Bi Bim Bap" that I had in Portland a couple weeks ago. More like Bi Bim BARV (there was peanut sauce on it?!?!?)! This winter I'm going to revisit Kimchi Jigae for sure, though. At home. I don't trust NO ONE.

    Total nostalgia <3!

  9. Friends! Love the comments and suggestions!

    @Nella - I love that you love kimchi! It took me over a year - while living there! - to love it. Silly palate.

    @Jess: YUM. I forgot about tuna! Will definitely try that or the pork next time - thank you for commenting! :)

    @Jo-Anna: I absolutely love sesame oil and used quite a bit more in this than I alluded to in the recipe ;) It's the smaller bottle, next to the soy sauce in the picture - looks strange to me, too! I will take any excuse to use more, so next time I'll take the regular oil out altogether. As for ingredients, they were surprisingly cheap! The jar of kimchi was only $5.99. I could have gotten a liter for $15, but I thought I'd start small ;)The grocer I go to has very reasonably priced goods, generally speaking (e.g., cocount milk $1.60, curry paste $1.50, etc.).

    @Sun: The kimchi was SO good - surprisingly so from a jar! It was only slightly fermented, though. I'll try your overnight trick next time. Love it! Please, please come to Canada for my fried rice?! Miss you so much!

    @Brendi: THE KIMBAP SHOP! Sob. I miss that place. Visit for me? Make the pretty lady smile with your mad Korean speaking skills?

    @Kait: Peanut sauce?! Sick. I mean, delicious, but not on bibimbap. Definitely take matters into your own hands. Kimchi jigae is so perfect for winter. Send me tips, please! xo

  10. @Elena: THAT is a great idea. Korean food from a Canadian in Macedonia! Ah, the upside to globalization...

    Kimchi is an acquired taste, but once you get it? Ohh my. There's just nothing like it!

  11. This looks delicious. Just my kind of meal! I had a S. Korean exchange student live with me 4 yrs ago for a year. He missed Homemade Kimchi soooo much. He was VERY picky about eating american cuisine, but I was able to make a few dishes that he said reminded him of home (deer meat stew for 1 :) ) He also cracked an egg into just about everything. He gave us a great Korean Cook Book, but the ex got it :(

  12. love kimchi and love sesame oil! this made me realize i've never made a korean dish at home and I have so many korean markets nearby, must change this soon! thanks for sharing!

  13. A lot of the Korean stores have their own kimchi. I really love the stuff at JJ Mart on Gottingen. My brother who lived in Korea says that the homemade stuff at JJ Mart is better than all the kimchi he had in Korea. Also, I've heard that the Korean store on Chebucto Rd has kimchi pots, and that the lady who owns it is a good resource for kimchi making. I love kimchi and kimchi fried rice too.

  14. We both know that this is one of MY favorite meals too! I can't seem to find the exact recipe I used when I made the bacon kimchi fried rice, but HOLY MOLY it was heaven.

    I think I'm going to have to make a quick version for us tonight (but we use fish sauce instead of soy). Thanks for sharing and as always - beautiful photos & beautiful writing, Ms. Aimee.

  15. PS - Our fave kimchi is made from the women at the mart by the rotary. Machisoyo!

  16. thanks for sharing...