Simple Korean Comfort Food
Many cultures have their "comfort food." India - kitcheree. China - congee. Many countries in West Africa - jollof rice. The list goes on. Living in Koreatown in Los Angeles for many years, I had many Korean friends whose families ate "kimchi fried rice" as their "comfort food." I wanted to share my version of this quick and easy Korean comfort food because one of the most common issues that comes up for my clients is a lack of time to cook.
I also always need quick recipes so my kids can get nourishing meals. I thought back to the years of watching friends eat kimchi fried rice. (Kimchi is fermented Korean vegetable dish that has many health and digestive benefits.) The trip down memory lane has been a hit in the family. I may have made too many modifications for those who are familiar with making this in their homes, but it works for my family!
I prepare lots of basmati rice at home. Whenever I'm cooking rice, I often cook an extra cup because I know I can find some use for it the next day. (No, Ayurveda doesn't love leftovers, but day old rice can be transformed into nourishing food.) What makes kimchi fried rice so quick and easy is that the main ingredient has already been prepared because you only want to use pre-cooked rice, not warm and soft rice just off the stove or out of the rice cooker
Traditionally, a short-grain rice is used. However, I prefer basmati rice so I use that instead. Also, instead of using the red spicy version of kimchi, I use the mild, white version. Shinto Gourmet, which I purchase at Sprouts, has a white kimchi using a traditional recipe from North Korea which I like. You can also find this version in Korean stores. And if you're really adventurous, you can make your own. I find that the white kimchi can be more readily eaten by all body/mind constitutions, including those who have more fiery digestions. It has all of the good bacteria that helps digestion with a little less heat.
Here are the ingredients:
- 1/2 cup chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
- 3 cups pre-cooked rice
- 2 cloves of garlic (Omit if you have a pitta digestive type that doesn't respond well to extra heat. If you really don't want to omit it and you are a fiery/pitta type, add the garlic only during the colder fall and winter months.)
- 1 carrot peeled and diced (If you're preparing this when you don't have much time, try to have some chopped carrots and celery readily available in the fridge.)
- 1 stalk of celery - chopped into small pieces
- 1 handful of green onions thinly sliced - (Spinach is good for this recipe. I also use moringa and chaya leaves that come straight from my backyard.)
- 1 cup of white kimchi
- Optional - thinly sliced green onion or thinly sliced dried seaweed for toppings, sunny-side-up egg. Soy sauce or fish sauce can also be used for extra flavor.
In a large pan or wok, heat the sunflower oil. Add the chopped onion. Stir fry onions for 1 minute and then add the garlic and stir. Continue with adding the chopped carrot and celery and stir for another minute. Now add the greens and kimchi. If you prefer your kimchi in small pieces, this is a good time to just take scissors and cut the kimchi into smaller bites as it cooks in the pan. Stir fry the greens and kimchi for an additional two minutes.
After all the onions and other vegetables look sufficiently integrated, add the pre-cooked rice and stir. Make sure to break apart any pieces of rice that are stuck together.
For extra flavor, add a little soy sauce or fish sauce. Top with sliced green onion and seaweed. If you'd like an even more substantial meal, cook a sunny-side-up in a separate pan and place on top of each bowl of kimchi fried rice.
This recipe is a template. You can change the vegetables and modify other ingredients. Most importantly, enjoy! Best, Rita