I’ve been obsessing over this dish ever since we had inhaled a dish of it at a small Japanese ramen spot at Sapporo in New York this past December. I had ordered my usual ramen noodle bowl but hubby ordered Kimchi Chahan (Japanese Fried Rice) I couldn’t get enough of it. The dish is so simple yet full of flavour and the kids have been asking for it at least once or twice a week.
But first, what is Kimchi? It’s a very popular Korean side dish made of fermented cabbage, radish and spices. Sounds weird but it’s delicious. It’s a staple in every Korean household. It’s usually purchased cold and available in tubs of varying sizes. I had asked my friend Mee-Young to pick some up for me recently since I don’t drive and she’s at the Korean supermarket every week. I think she goes to Galleria in Toronto (located at York Mills and Leslie if you live in the city). T&T Supermarkets also carries Kimchi.
Kimchi can be eaten cold out of the tub or cooked up but be warned…some people find the smell to be very strong. My non-asian husband loves the taste of it and is use to it now. I don’t smell anything but the spices. My kids don’t notice it either.
Interestingly, during the SARS crisis in 2003, many asian cultures believed that eating Kimchi helped protect them from getting the virus. I’m not sure how, but I know we also increased our consumption of Kimchi during that time and now over flu season. Knock on wood…we’ve managed to be flu free. So far.
So, back to this dish. While Kimchi is of Korean origin, it is also enjoyed by other asians. This is a really easy dish to prepare and very popular but with a few additions to the basic recipe you can make easily make a one-dish meal out of it — I usually serve a side dish of quick stir fry of baby bok choy for added veg intake. The trick to this rice dish is to have everything ready to go and move quickly! Feel free to adjust the amount of kimchi to your taste. I tend to use a bit more than a cup as we love it!
KIMCHI CHAHAN (Japanese Fried Rice)
2 cups of fresh cooked long-grained rice (keep warm)
2 eggs, mixed in a small bowl
1 cup of kimchi, chopped
1 tsp of fresh garlic, chopped
2 tbsps sesame oil
soy sauce or salt to taste
1. Warm a large frying pan or wok with sesame oil over medium heat. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
2. Add the rice and quickly stirring for about a minute to loosen up the grains slightly.
3. Add the eggs and quickly coat the rice so it’s evenly dispersed. The trick is to not let the eggs clump but you want the rice to be coated and loose.
4. Add Kimchi to rice and stir until evenly distributed.
5. Add salt or soy sauce to taste.
1. Add a cup of left over cooked chicken! I’ve used meat from that roasted chicken I’ve purchased at the rotisserie counter. But remove any skin.
2. My friend suggested to add a can of tuna (one that was not seasoned, and drained of any liquids)
3. I usually use fresh bought kimchi, but as my friend Jimin pointed out, if you use older kimchi the flavours are even more pungent. I would totally do that except that kimchi doesn’t last long enough in our household.
Enjoy as a meal on its own or a it’s a great side dish to any meat or seafood with asian flavours.
This is what you’re looking for in the asian supermarket. Kimchi!