Kimchi bokkeumbap is another one of those foods that I eat all the time but have never thought to write about.
At first, being someone who is very easily put off her food by an unpleasant sound or image, I had to struggle to get over the fact that part of this meal’s name sounds like the Northern Irish word for vomit. (No, really.) Now, however, the name sounds as appealing and appetising to me as any other favourite meal.
“Kimchi bokkeumbap” simply means “kimchi fried rice”, and is pretty much what you’d imagine from that name. Strangely, now I come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten it in a restaurant. Instead, it’s the meal that I cook most often in my own ‘kitchen’. It’s apparently one of the favourite dishes of Korean students, as it’s extremely cheap, easy, and quick to make, without compromising on flavour. And the fact that its principal ingredients are scraps and leftovers makes it even more useful!
I’ve experimented a lot with my kimchi bokkeumbap recipe, and discovered that it does indeed taste better when made with kimchi that has become too ripe and pungent to eat as a side dish and rice that’s been languishing in the fridge for a day or two, rather than with fresh kimchi and just-cooked rice. I’ve also learned that it’s best to fry the kimchi on its own first in a little oil at a high temperature before throwing in onions, garlic, and whatever meat you want to use. I don’t know why… it just tastes better that way. Sort of seared and smoky.
As for the meat option, you can use pretty much anything you have lying around, but the common one is chopped pork. My personal favourite, however – and I know many of you will turn up your noses at this – is Spam, chopped up into small cubes. I have an endless supply of this stuff thanks to the odd tradition of giving it as a gift, by the case, and it means that I can always, always rustle up some kimchi bokkeumbap when the notion takes me. Which is at least once a week, by the way: the stuff is addictive. It doesn’t even matter if you find yourself without garlic, or onions – a bit more kimchi and spice, and it tastes just as good!
When you’ve stir-fried your veggies and Spam(!), you make them into a sauce by mixing in some fiery gochujang (hot pepper paste that goes in just about everything I make regardless of whether the recipe calls for it), red pepper flakes, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Then you just tip in your leftover rice and stir it all around until piping hot. My rice is always much darker in colour than the pictures I see online and on restaurant menus, probably because I add so much spicy stuff and kimchi juice!
The finishing touch is an optional fried egg on top. Well – they say optional, but in my opinion it’s essential. I’m very bad at the egg part. The yolk is meant to break and run through your rice when you put your spoon into it, but I always end up with either a hard yolk or raw white. So I’ve taken to scraping the rice mixture to the side of the pan and cracking the egg into the space, breaking it apart and stirring the white into the mixture as it cooks. I save the yolk at the side, and break it over the top of my rice when I dish it out. It looks a bit weird, but I’m only cooking for me. ;)
I tried to do it properly for this picture, though.
This was my dinner tonight. It probably cost around 80p in ingredients and took around 10 minutes to make. But in all honesty, I would choose it over any number of restaurant meals I used to pay a fortune to eat…