Easy Weeknight Dinner: Korean Vegetarian Fried Rice

March 7, 2014

Korean veggie fried rice

Fried rice – so many cultures have their own versions, and each one is delicious. This one is a Korean version that my mom made for us when we were little, usually on Saturdays when she’d come home early from work (yep, during those days Koreans worked 6 days a week!) and do housework. Most Korean food takes a lot of work, so this quick, healthy fried rice was the perfect solution.

This is in fact so simple that all you need is some leftover rice and any veggies knocking around in your fridge. Just remember to use a thick-bottomed pan, like a cast-iron skillet, for best flavor. Also, another hallmark of Korean cooking–the culinary sensibility, if you will–is using ingredients of different colors. You notice this in bibimbap, gimbap (Korean mixed vegetable sushi) or the way they mix and match banchan (side dishes). So, if you don’t have potatoes (yellow), substitute with corn, or broccoli (green) with peas. This makes it so fun to cook and eat, and is kid-friendly, too!

Korean veggie fried rice

Korean Veggie Fried Rice

1 cup cooked brown rice, preferably cold or room temp

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium potato, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

4-5 medium shiitake mushrooms, sliced

3-4 white buttom mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup chopped broccoli

1/2 cup chopped kimchi (optional, but delicious)

1. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or another thick-bottomed frying pan. When it starts to bubble, add onions, carrots, and potatoes, and stir a few times using a wooden spatula. Salt generously, and leave them alone for a 3-4 minutes over medium heat.

2. When the onions are translucent, add the broccoli and mushrooms. Give them a quick stir. If the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan, clear some room in the center of the pan, and add about 1/4 cup of water–it should sizzle and evaporate quickly, steaming the veggies and unsticking them. Add a little more salt and pepper (layering salt helps veggies release their juices).

3. After about 4-5 minutes, the veggies should be close to done. Add the rice, and kimchi, if using. Break up the rice with the wooden spatula, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, tossing occasionally. And then you’re done!

To serve: Koreans eat their fried rice with ketchup. It’s just how it’s done! Also acceptable is a drizzle of Sriracha, or a side of kimchi. Dig in!

Other easy recipes: 15 Minute Cumin Basil Soba Noodles

Mushroom and Bok Choi Spread with Tahini Sauce

Korean Doenjang Jjigae (Miso Soup)

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Photo: Peaceful Dumpling

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Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.

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