While fried rice is believed to have originated hundreds of years ago in China, several cuisines now sport their own version thanks to the migration of people and their culinary traditions. Well-executed fried rice is a dish we will rarely say no to, but one of our favorites is Korean kimchi fried rice. We first fell in love with kimchi fried rice at Republique in Los Angeles where it’s served with crusty bits of short ribs, a hearty amount of spicy kimchi, and is topped with two poached eggs. It’s delightfully savory, comforting, and the ultimate unexpected deviation from the fried rice you probably grew up with (cubed ham and frozen peas and carrots sound familiar?).
While traditional kimchi fried rice is made with a variety of proteins or no protein at all, we love the short ribs in Republique’s version. Boneless beef short ribs can be found at the butcher counter at almost any reputable grocery store. Our recipe calls for 12 ounces of short ribs, which will yield quite a meaty fried rice. If that’s not your ideal rice-to-meat ratio, though, still buy and crisp up 12 ounces of ribs to save the rest for leftovers. Your tacos and stir fry will thank you for the addition of those luxurious little crackly bits.
Kimchi is a ubiquitous condiment in Korea that is made from napa cabbage and sometimes radishes as well. The cabbage is first salted then mixed with chili powder, garlic, ginger, and a variety of salted seafood. It is then allowed to sit at room temperature to ferment for at least 24 hours. The result is a salty, spicy condiment with some seriously fermented and funky seafood vibes. While you may not be ready to add a side of kimchi to every meal as is customary in Korea, kimchi fried rice is a great way to test the waters to see if kimchi is for you (we love it!).
What is kimchi fried rice?
Kimchi fried rice (or bokkeum-bap) is a staple in South Korean cuisine. Leftover rice and kimchi, along with onions, vegetables, garlic, and sometimes meat, are stir-fried together quickly and topped with a fried egg and scallions for added oomph. As is common in other cuisines as well, kimchi fried rice is often seen as a quick, usually cheap, albeit delicious meal in South Korea. However, the dressed-up version served at Republique is anything but pedestrian. The rich, hearty short ribs pair perfectly with the spicy sour funk of the kimchi. The two poached eggs are the proverbial cherry on top and bring this dish squarely into fancy comfort food territory.
How to Make Kimchi Fried Rice
- Take your time to sear the cubed and salted short ribs well. Yes, it takes time to sear each side, but we promise it’s worth it. The crust the meat develops packs a serious umami punch that makes this a restaurant-worthy dish.
- If possible, start with day-old or leftover rice. As rice sits, it has a chance to dry out, which means it will be primed and ready to absorb whatever flavors you want to impart on it. Chilled rice also is less likely to get sticky or gummy when stir-fried.
- Saute the aromatics and kimchi. The kimchi doesn’t need to be cooked per se, but giving it a quick saute wakes it up a bit to create a fried rice with some serious depth of flavor. And if a gets a little caramelized in spots, all the better.
- Season to taste. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, and some kimchi brine to season the rice. Start with the lower amount of soy sauce and work up gradually from there. If your rice still isn’t salty enough after two tablespoons of soy sauce, use kosher salt to add additional saltiness. Soy sauce shouldn’t be a predominant flavor here.
- Poach the eggs. Poaching eggs can be tricky to get the hang of, but once you’ve found a method that works for you, you’ll be set. If you’ve never poached an egg at home, this video is super helpful.
- Divide the rice between bowls, top each with two eggs, sprinkle with green onion and toasted sesame seeds, and enjoy!
RECIPES FEATURING RICE
- Korean Beef Bowls
- How to Make Nigiri
- Creamy Parmesan Risotto
- 20-Minute Thai Green Curry
- Mediterranean Rice Bowls
Kimchi Fried Rice
- 12 ounces boneless beef short ribs
- kosher salt or sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 1 small yellow or white onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
- 1 cup of chopped kimchi, plus 2 Tablespoons reserved kimchi brine
- 4 cups cooked white rice, completely cooled (see recipe notes)
- 1½ – 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 8 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- two green onions, sliced thinly on a diagonal
- 4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Cut the short ribs into 1-inch cubes, season with kosher salt or sea salt, and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large cast-iron skillet to high heat and add the canola oil. Once oil is hot and shimmering, sprinkle the meat onto the skillet in an even layer. Do not stir the cubes and cook for 2-3 minutes without disturbing – this will allow a beautiful crust to form. Stir the meat and rearrange to allow the other side to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Lower the temperature of the skillet to medium and melt ½ Tablespoon of butter. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, stirring frequently, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining ½ Tablespoon of butter and chopped kimchi and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Slowly incorporate the rice with the onions and kimchi, breaking large clumps apart as you go but small clumps of rice here and there are fine. Once rice and kimchi mixture are incorporated, drizzle on the soy sauce, kimchi brine, and sesame oil. Toss to combine. Taste and add the remaining ½ Tablespoon of soy sauce if needed. Add salt if needed (this will depend greatly on the brand of soy sauce used in the recipe, thus we “salt to taste”. You’ll know when it’s right). Lower the skillet to the lowest heat possible to keep warm and toss in the cooked short rib meat.
- Poach the eggs. Fill a small or medium pot of water halfway full and bring to a gentle simmer. Add white vinegar. Crack each egg carefully over a fine mesh sieve or strainer over a bowl, and let the loose/excess egg whites gently fall into the bowl beneath. Gently pour the egg into the simmering pot. Repeat with as many eggs that will comfortably fit in your pot and cook the eggs for 2-3 minutes for a perfectly poached egg. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs from pot when done cooking and set aside until ready for use. Work in batches and repeat with remaining eggs if needed.
- Assemble the kimchi fried rice bowls. Divide rice among 4 bowls. Top each bowl with two poached eggs, a sprinkle of green onion, and approximately 1 teaspoon of toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.
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