Kimchi, also called Kimchee or Gimchi, is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made up of a variety of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is Korea's national dish and has originated in Korea since the 12th century. The main ingredients of Kimchi are vegetables like cabbage, radish, and seasonings like gochugaru (red chilli pepper flakes) garlic, ginger, brine, saeuojeot (shrimp sauce), eonguljeot (oyster sauce) and aekjeot (fish sauce). There are 187 varieties of Kimchi!!
At this point, I have to mention my friend Aminah (we call her Ena) who truly exemplifies what good friends do for their friends. She was on a trip to Korea with her family years ago and I had requested a vegetarian version. I had told her.. don't feel obliged. Just get it if its convenient. Ena brought back a huge packet of Vegetarian Kimchi (1 kg) specially prepared for me without the shrimp, oyster and fish sauces! Apparently, she had waited for an hour in the morning to get the vegetarian version in a Kimchi shop enroute to the airport for her return flight. Imagine with all the luggage and with 3 young cranky kids in tow?? Thank you darling for your wonderful act of love and sacrifice. I enjoyed it tremendously :) I know this happened years ago, Ena but I still remember it and hold you close to my heart. How can we forget the acts of love of our friends and family?
Recently, I came across a vegetarian version of Kimchi at a local online store (Redmart). Making a simple fried rice with Kimchi was my next natural step. That's what I did last week when my girls were in school and my husband was out of town. Do note that there is no protein in this fried rice - so do make an egg or have grilled tofu with it.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 cups of cooked white rice
1 tsp pounded/minced ginger
1 tsp pounded/minced garlic
1 cup of mixed vegetables like carrot, peas, corn
1 cup of Vegetarian Kimchi, drained and chopped roughly
1 tsp of Gochujang (Korean Red Pepper paste, if Kimchi is not spicy enough)
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt and Pepper
Red Bird's Eye chilli, sliced (for garnish and for side dish)
Extra Kimchi (for side dish)
1) Get all the ingredients ready. From left : Cooked rice, mixed vegs, chopped Kimchi, sliced Red Bird's Eye chilli, gochujang paste, ginger, garlic, canola oil, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
2) A close up of the Vegetarian Kimchi and the Korean red pepper paste Gochujang.
3) A close up of how Kimchi looks like. The usual Kimchi is usually has a sour fermented taste and smell. Surprisingly, this version was very pleasant and light in seasonings. No foul off putting smell at all.
4) Get a big wok or frying pan and heat the canola oil. Then fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes.
5) Add the mixed vegetables and a pinch of salt for flavor. Let it cook for 3-5 mins.
6) Then, add in the chopped kimchi and saute the whole mixture further. If you want it extremely spicy, you can add in the gochujang paste here.
7) Now, add in the cooked rice, salt, pepper and sesame oil and give it a good mix.
8) Serve with more Kimchi and some sliced red bird's eye chilli as additional condiments.