Things to cook with (almost) nothing but rice and kimchi

Rice and Kimchi! The essence of the Korean kitchen, the quintessential stable foods on which the country is built, there’s no home without these two that are almost as inseparable as Siamese twins.

For most, if not all Koreans rice and kimchi make up the stables of their diet, and if you happen to be in Korea chances are they will come to be the stable foods of your diet too. When I moved into a Korean goshiwon I rejoiced at the prospect of all the rice and kimchi I was going to eat, as unlimited amounts of rice and kimchi are included in the rent at most goshiwons, mine not being an exception. While eating all the rice and kimchi my heart, or rather the bottomless pit that is my stomach desired, was very nice for the first few months it did get a tad boring in the long run (plus sometimes the kimchi would get a little too old creating a bubbling or sparkling sensation which I could definitely feel when eating it, and while I do appreciate bubbles in my fermented grape juice I did not care much for it in my fermented, chilli and garlic marinated cabbage). Thus I began seeking ways to play up the basic rice and kimchi, and luckily there’s many different ways of doing just that. The ideas below are tried and tested ways to cook delicious food with pretty much nothing but kimchi and rice, though I do suggest you get fancy and add an extra ingredient here and there to take the taste of your meal and it’s nutritional value to the next level, and don’t worry it wont break your budget.

To aid you in your cooking endeavors I’ve found videos with great instructions on how to cook all the things I’ve listed, as well as listed my own very lazy almost most cheater like, ahem, simple way of preparing the foods. Good luck cooking and bon appetit!

1. Kimchi Bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice)

Basic ingredients: Rice, kimchi.

Add ins: fried egg, sesame oil, gochujang, spam (or ham), cheese, vegetables (namely onions of any kind), kim (laver).

My directions: If you feel like it start by frying an egg. Heat oil in a pan, chop up a good handful of kimchi and throw it in, keep stirring while the kimchi cooks. If you want to add any vegetables or meat add it now. Once the kimchi becomes really aromatic, and any extra ingredients you may have added are almost cooked, add a bowl of rice. Make sure to mix everything well. To serve you can garnish with some cut up laver and eventually the egg you fried at the very beginning.

2. Kimchi Jigae (kimchi stew)

Basic ingredients: Kimchi.

Add ins: Tuna (canned in oil), tofu, vegetables of any kind, egg, meat (pork is the most common).

My directions: Heat a pot and add about a cup of kimchi and, if you’re going for the meaty version, some meat, and fry it for a few minutes. Add tuna if you want the fishy version as well as any vegetables you like and add enough water cover everything. Simmer under a lid for 10 minutes or so, add half a packet of tofu cut into cubes and/or an egg and simmer for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice.

3. Dubu Kimchi (Tofu with kimchi)

Basic ingredients: Tofu, kimchi.

Add ins: Some pork if you have it and/or some vegetables (chopped carrots works for me).

My directions: Boil tofu, fry kimchi with meat and/or vegetables. Arrange everything on a dish and serve with rice.

4. Kimchi Samgak Kimbap (Kimchi triangle riceballs)

Basic ingredients: Rice, kimchi, kim (laver).

Add ins: Tuna, Ham, Cheese – you can go and get inspiration from the samgak kimbap at the local convenience store.

My directions: Do as the lady in the video but skip the intricate wrapping part, instead just wrap it in a regular piece of laver and eat it.

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