MAP-Inspired Kimchi Bokkeum Bap (Kimchi Fried Rice)

Printable Version (Recipe Only)

MAP (Medium Asian Papa for those not familiar) is turning 76 next week, so I thought it a good day to transfer this post written three years ago over from the old blog. It's been a long time since he's cooked anything, but this dish always brings back good memories. :)

Though my mom did most of the cooking when we were kids, every once in a while, my dad would take to the kitchen to make one of his three signature dishes which were:

2) kimchi fried rice, and 
3) kalbi. 

Well, one of those plus a huge mess.

Of the three, I think his kimchi fried rice was my favorite. Maybe it's because I remember sitting at the bapsang with nothing but a huge wokful of fried rice and as many spoons as there were people eating, and just digging in until we were all stuffed. Definitely because it was just so damned tasty - the simple deliciousness of pork belly or bacon, and sauteed and slightly caramelized ripe kimchi, all tossed with yesterday's rice and a little bit of sugar, soy sauce and gochujang to make it even spicier.

At a very old 73 years, my dad can't cook anymore. At least not without making an even bigger mess because of his failing eyesight and compromised motor skills, or making my mom worry that he'll burn the house down from his creeping senility. Years of hard living have taken a toll on his body and mind.

It's in these moments when I realize that I probably won't have him around for much longer - at least not in any lucid state - that I realize how recipes connect us and how some day, likely sooner than I'll be ready for it, kimchi fried rice will mean even more to me, so much more, than it does today.

I think I'll make a wokful of this stuff for my dad the next time we go up to see him and see if he can't remember how he used to load up his version with too much pork belly, too much bacon, maybe a little too much sugar for anyone's good, and a fat pat of butter to make up for all those meals of his impoverished childhood that weren't nearly so delicious and indulgent.

MAP-Inspired Kimchi Fried Rice
Serves 4
Time: About 25 minutes
Printable Version

As with most fried rice recipes, stale rice works best. So the next time you have Chinese, Thai, Korean or Japanese takeout, you might want to save your leftover steamed rice to make this dish later in the week. Also, while some people like to make their kimchi fried rice with fresh kimchi, I personally like it much, MUCH, better with the ripe, sour stuff.

Start out on the lower end of the measurements and taste and adjust seasoning as you go.

- 5 or 6 cups steamed white rice (preferably a little stale)
- 2 cups chopped kimchi (in 1/2-inch strips)
- 4 to 6 strips of bacon cut in 1/2-inch strips (though if you don't have bacon around, or if you're a vegetarian, this stuff is still pretty yummy without it)
- 3 Tablespoons neutral flavored oil (not EVOO) OR 2 Tablespoons oil + 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons gochujang (if you'd like it less spicyhot, you can start with 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce instead and add more to taste)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil to finish
- 1 green onion, chopped, for garnish

1) In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Put the bacon in and render it until it looks like this:

2) Add in the kimchi and sugar and stir/sautee for a minute or two.

3) Then add in the gochujang and saute for another minute or so. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Maybe a pinch more sugar, maybe the rest of that gochujang. Remember, however salty or spicy it is at this point will be diluted a bit by all that rice. But don't go overboard with the seasoning just yet. You can always add more stuff later, but you can't take it away.

4) Add the rice and, using your spoon or spatula, make chopping motions into the rice to break it up as completely as you can so it'll get evenly seasoned.

5) If the rice is beginning to stick to your pan, turn the heat down to medium low at this point and taste one last time to adjust seasoning if necessary. Remember to cool it down to room temp by blowing on it before tasting. You can't taste the level of seasoning as accurately when the food is hot, and you might think it less salty, sweet or spicy than it really is. Adjust one last time if needed, adding a pinch more sugar if you like things on the slightly sweeter side, or a dash of soy sauce if you like it a little saltier.

6) And finally, add the toasted sesame oil, and toss in thoroughly to season the rice evenly.

If you like little crunchy bits in your fried rice, now is the time to let it sit undisturbed for another 3 or 4 minutes on the medium-low flame and let the rice on the outside toast up a bit.

Serve sprinkled with chopped green onions, and maybe even a fried egg on top if you're up for it.

Enjoy. Heartily.

I always do. :)




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