Korean Style Fried Rice

I am addicted to a Korean rice dish called Bibimbap and I wanted to try making it at home.  I got a Korean cookbook called, The Korean Table, and perused the recipe. Bibimbap is a fried rice dish cooked in a stone bowl, served with various toppings and Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and then a fried egg on top.  All of the little toppings, things like seasoned bean sprouts, seasoned shredded carrots and seasoned daikon radish, would take some time to prepare.  I read in the book that instead of the authentic bowls, you could use a cast iron pan to get that crunchy rice bottom.  But first things first, where in small town Maine was I going to find Gochujang??  The cook book was clear that there was no substitute.  Thankfully, we made a trip down to Portland last month and checked out Sun Oriental Market on Congress St.


Since finding the Gochujang, I have made a few things from the cookbook.  It’s a great book.  Beautiful photography and a really nice ingredient section in the front to teach you about the various ingredients used in Korean cooking.  There is also a section called “Your starter kit for Korean cooking” which goes through making various base sauces, pastes and stocks.  I was making a beef stir-fry dish a few weeks ago, and needed to make some Sweet Soy Sauce Base and a Seasoned Red Pepper Paste.  Both are good for several months in the refrigerator, so they recommend making a larger batch and saving it.  I have to say that it’s much easier to just have it sitting there and ready.  Makes putting a dish together much quicker!

In any case, while having made several things, I have STILL not made any bibimbap!  Bad Tina!  We have just been so busy that I haven’t had time to prepare all the little vegetable toppings that are included in the dish.  However, I have been experimenting with my Gochujang, and when I saw a recipe for Kimchi Fried Rice on Serious Eats the other day, I decided to adapt it for what we had on hand, including that Seasoned Red Pepper Paste!

I love to make fried rice.  Simple and use up the leftovers in your refrigerator!  I’ll frequently make it for lunch when I have leftover rice in the refrigerator.  I did make a special trip to the grocery store to buy a new jar of Kimchi.  My store only has one brand (I’m happy there’s at least one!) and it’s a mild version.  It works for me.  The seasoned red pepper paste adds plenty of heat.  It’s on my bucket list to try making homemade Kimchi one day.  Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish (usually napa cabbage), and can vary by region and season.  It can also vary greatly in how spicy it is.

I also had a leftover pork chop in the fridge, and some mixed vegetables that had been leftover from dinner the other night.  And of course, we have plenty of eggs for the topping!  Fried rice is definitely best made with one, or even two/three, day old rice.  Since I hadn’t planned on making this fried rice, I didn’t actually have any rice in my refrigerator.  No problem!  I made up a batch of jasmine rice with just a little bit less water than normal, spread it out onto a baking sheet into a single-ish layer, and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  Pulled it out and let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes and I was good to go.  Not ideal, but works in a pinch.

Seasoned Red Pepper Paste, adapted from The Korean Table

The major adaptation with this recipe is that it calls for Korean coarse red pepper flakes.  Although they state in the book that this is a “must-have” and can’t be substituted, I did it anyway because I didn’t think to buy them on my excursion to buy the Gochujang, and there is nowhere around here to buy them.  I substituted normal McCormick’s crushed red pepper, but used less than called for with the Korean flakes.  You can vary the amount you add based on how spicy you want it to be.

1-2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 Tb. Gochujang
1 Tb. crushed garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger (about half an inch of root)
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1 Tb. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tb. light brown sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice

Mix together.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Korean Style Fried Rice
(serves 4)

3 cups dried jasmine rice
4.5 cups of water
2 Tb. vegetable oil
1-2 leftover pork chops, diced small (or other cooked meat that you have on hand)
Any sort of veggies that you have kicking around the fridge
14-oz jar of mild kimchi (or your heat preference)
1 Tb. butter
2 Tb. seasoned red pepper paste (see above)
1 Tb. sesame oil
2 Tb. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tb. oyster sauce
1-2 eggs per person

1. Prepare rice ahead of time, preferably 1-2 days.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Dig through refrigerator for leftovers.  I like leftover pork chops that I dice into about 1/2 inch pieces.  Frozen peas or other veggies.  Some shredded carrots.  Maybe you have some green beans or pea pods.  This time I solely used some leftover frozen mixed veggies (peas, corn and beans) from a previous dinner.

3. Heat large skillet (I use my 12-in cast iron pan), add 1 Tb. oil and heat on medium.  When oil begins to shimmer, add the diced meat and heat for 1-2 minutes.  If the veggies that you are adding are raw (not previously cooked leftovers), then add those first and saute until about 75% cooked.  Then add the meat.

4. Add a little bit more oil if necessary and then the Kimchi, and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.  If the Kimchi is in big pieces, you might want to chop it up a bit beforehand.

5. Add the butter and seasoned red pepper paste, thoroughly incorporate.

6. Add in the veggies if you haven’t done so already.

7. Toss in the rice.  I don’t usually use all of the rice that I cooked as that overloads my pan.  So, just add in as much as your pan will tolerate, and save the rest to add into the leftovers.

8. Break up any rice clumps, and stir well into the Kimchi mixture.

9. Add in the sesame oil, soy sauce and oyster sauce and mix in well.

10. Let sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes to develop a nice, crusty bottom.

11. Serve into individual dishes.

12. Prepare fried eggs.  I like two eggs on top of mine, but you might rather just have one.  You’re just making fried eggs and you want the yolk to still be runny (like sunny-side up eggs).  So, I just heat some oil/butter in a small non-stick skillet, toss in the eggs, flip very briefly, and then place on top of the bowl of rice.

13. Serve with additional seasoned red pepper paste so people can kick up the heat if they want.

I love to mix in my runny egg yolks into the rice.  Mmm….

2 Responses

  1. One of my favorite quick meals back in Ann Arbor was a bibimbop from Steve’s Lunch. Sadly, I was in AA a couple years ago, and I was going to grab one, and Steve’s had closed. I have had a jones on for a good bibimbop since.

    Cook one and let me know how it goes.

    • There must be somewhere nearby for good bibimbap! You live in a big city! I’m hoping to make it at home soon. Soccer is winding down for the season and I hopefully won’t be out running the kids around every day after school and will have a little bit more time for cooking!

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