How many times have you ambitiously bought groceries in the hope of trying to cook a new dish or making something you've seen in a TV show that left you with fearsome cravings? The reality, unfortunately, is that while we all want to be the Instagram-friendly perfect versions of working Millennials, we're really just exhausted professionals who can't be bothered to cook a complicated dish of bibimbap or naengmyeon, no matter how cute our k-drama crushes looked cooking them on screen. However, if cooking in the pandemic has taught us a single thing, it's that there's a compromise between reheating dal-chawal and making an elaborate Korean meal as you saw in the latest episode of Hospital Playlist.
What's that sweet middle ground, you ask? Kimchi fried rice.
What is it? Cooking kimchi fried rice is basically like making a quick tawa pulao, with all the tangy, spicy delightfulness of kimchi and the joy of feeling like you're not wasting the gochujang you bought. A popular dish among young Koreans, who like most of us, live on a low budget, battling long work hours and demanding appetites, this is a quick-fix meal that tastes just as good as anything you'd order in without breaking the bank account.
What do you need? Open your fridge and take a good, long look at your leftovers. If we're being honest, you don't need a lot (apart from the titular kimchi), but you can get as creative as you feel. For example, the dish doesn't need to have meat in it, but if you have leftovers (no, not your uss din ka butter chicken), toss them in. We've kept it simple, so you know what to do with the basics.
Ingredients (serves 2):
3/4 cup kimchi, diced
3-4 tbsp juice from the kimchi jar
2 1/2 cups old rice
1/4 onion, diced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp gochujang
5-6 frozen chicken sausages, diced (optional)
1 scallion, chopped (optional)
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste
Instead of the sausages, you can use pretty much any cold cut meat you might have lying forgotten in your freezer. If you're a vegetarian, skip this step entirely or use mushrooms.
Fry leftover cold cut meats
Here's what you do
Pull leftover rice out of the fridge (don't even try to pretend like you don't have it), break it up so it's not clumped and keep it aside
Thaw the sausages then dice and toss them into a pan with the sesame oil on medium-high heat. Saute so they're lightly cooked
Add the diced onion, scallions, kimchi, kimchi juice, soy and gochujang. Saute for 3-4 minutes, so all the flavours mix well
Add the rice and make sure it's all coated evenly with your kimchi mixture, stirring continuously for another 3-4 minutes to avoid clumps or burned rice
Taste and add salt, pepper and more gochujang if you want it to be spicier. Set aside when you're happy with the taste
Fry 2 eggs separately so they're crispy on the edges but retain a runny yellow yolk
Serve the rice in two bowls and lay the fried eggs on top
It's that simple. Some people add carrots or additional vegetables, while others restrict to just the kimchi, rice and gochujang. Frankly, it's going to be harder for you to decide what to watch along with the food before it gets cold than putting this dish together. But we're here to help, so if you're on the lookout for some show recommendations: hit us up on social media and we'll talk!
Sroojana is an award-winning creator of fandoms. Her first love is her mother's rum cake, and her second love is baking cakes just like it. Controversial opinions range from liking citrus flavours more than chocolate, and pineapple on pizza - she WILL fight you on this, as long as you're not asking during a binge-session of Korean shows or food.