Between all the holiday roasts and New Years toasts, I dunno about you, but I'm ready for some spicy simple dishes.Kimchi bokkeumbap (볶음밥), or kimchi fried rice fits the bill and is a perfect example of the the kind of high-flavor, low-effort dishes that I like to make around this time of year.
Like with a good kimchi jjigae the secret to a good kimchi fried rice is to use mature kimchi along with its juices. Kimchi matures as lactic acid fermentation converts the sugars in the cabbage into lactic acid. This not only makes the kimchi taste sour, it increases both the amount of glutamic acids (the compounds that create the taste of umami) and the depth of flavor in the kimchi.
While it may seem superfluous to squeeze out the juices of the kimchi only to add them back in later, I have two good reasons for doing this. The first is that we want to further deepen the flavor of the kimchi by caramelizing it. When the kimchi is sopping wet, it's going to take much longer to caramelize. The second reason is that the amount of liquid in kimchi is a bit unpredictable and by measuring it out we get just enough juice to flavor the rice without making it soggy.
Although I'm one of those guys that believes a sunnyside up egg will make just about anything taste better, if you're not a fan of having a molten flow of golden yolk percolating through your rice, you can just scramble the egg before you fry the rice, and then add it back in at the very end. Check out my post on making the perfect sunnyside up eggs for a fool-proof method.
- Before you measure out the kimchi, squeeze out as much juice from the kimchi as you can, into a liquid measuring cup, this liquid is the "kimchi juice"
- Whisk the kimchi juice, gochujang and soy sauce together until the gochujang is completely dissolved.
- Drizzle the sesame oil on the rice and stir to break up any big clumps.
- Put the vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat over medium high heat until hot. Add the chopped kimchi and stir fry until the kimchi is starting to brown and is very fragrant.
- Add the rice and and stir-fry with a silicon spatula, pressing down on any clumps until the rice is uniform in color.
- Pour the kimchi juice mixture over the rice, and turn up the heat to high. Stir-fry, tossing the rice occasionally until the rice starts to brown, and doesn't stick together quite as much.
- Since kimchi varies in saltiness, taste the kimchi bokkeumbap and add more soy sauce if needed.
- When the fried rice is done, add the scallions and then plate. Top each serving with a sunny-side up egg.