Bokum Bap (Korean-style fried rice)

by Amy Kim on July 9, 2011 · 18 comments

We’ve already reached midsummer and are riding the huge wave of summer activities. Summer camp, swimming lessons, and just general mayhem. Then there are the not so pleasant surprises – new sump pump, french drain, getting rid of a dead tree, and other annoying home maintenance issues. Basically, I feel like I’m constantly treading water with my face barely above water.

I barely have enough time to think, let alone cook. I have to admit that I’ve been really uninspired to cook for the last several weeks. I longingly stare at all my “recipe ideas” scrawled on post-its that adorn the side of my microwave oven and fridge (Kind of like how I stare at my running shoes). And with my husband’s unpredictable work schedule and my children’s unpredictable finickiness,  it’s really hard to convince myself to take the time to experiment (yes, please get your violins out). Don’t even get me started on my struggles with patience…my poor little kids.

As uninspired as I am, I still try to cook something tasty and healthy. Some meals are overwhelmingly successful with the kids, and others…not so much (Did I mention their finickiness?). But one dish that is usually successful and always comforting is bokum bap, Korean-style fried rice.  It’s quick and easy and you can improvise like nobody’s business with chockful of tasty bits. It all depends on what you have on hand. The other day I included hot dogs, zucchini, and corn. It’s what I had in the fridge and I always try to include a protein and plenty of vegetables. Refrigerated day-old rice is perfect, whether it’s from last night’s takeout or straight from your rice cooker. Bokum bap is completely satisfying on days when you’re being pulled in all different directions. And if you have a couple of extra minutes to spare, you can fry up a simple egg omelet and top off your mound of deliciousness with an “egg hat”.

The keys to successful bokum bap:

  1. Dice the ingredients down to the same size so they cook evenly and quickly.
  2. Cook everything over medium high heat so that it cooks quickly.
  3. Cook the protein first, then the “hard” veggies, and the softer veggies last.

Bokum Bap

About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Usually a handful of or about 1/2 cup of each protein and vegetable. (I typically include 3 to 4 different ingredients.)
About 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Day-old rice (I usually have about 1 to 1-1/2 cups)
About 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 stalks green onions, sliced thinly (optional)

  1. Heat the cooking oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Toss in your protein and saute until cooked or warmed (if using leftovers) through.
  3. Add vegetables from firmer to softer texture. Cook each until tender. (I cooked my zucchini and corn at the same time.)
  4. Add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Adjust to taste. If it seems a little on the salty side, don’t worry, the rice will mellow it out.
  5. Add the rice and heat through. At first the rice will be crumbly and a little difficult to handle, but it will soften as it warms up. Stir and toss. The rice will turn a light brown as it gets lightly coated with the soy sauce.
  6. Take the skillet off the heat. Add green onions and drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil and toss. Remember, a little sesame oil goes a long way.
  7. Serve immediately.

Photo by my 2 year old.

Photo by my 4 year old.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jen July 9, 2011 at 12:51 PM

My kids love rice dishes! I’m excited to try this as I don’t usually ‘fry’ the rice in the pan with the rest… Must make for yummy rice!

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2 AMY July 9, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Hi Jen! Well, it’s all very quick. The rice goes in the pan to get lightly seasoned by the meat and veggies versus getting doused in soy sauce (blech). Hope it works out and thanks for visiting!

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3 Sommer J July 10, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Love the photos!! My children love fried rice! Thanks for sharing your measurement breakdown!

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4 AMY July 11, 2011 at 1:58 AM

Hi Sommer! Unsuccessful fried rice is usually very oily and seasoned with way too much soy sauce. I’ve found that you don’t need too much of either to make a tasty fried rice dish!

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5 AMY July 11, 2011 at 1:58 AM

Hi Sommer! Unsuccessful fried rice is usually very oily and seasoned with way too much soy sauce. I’ve found that you don’t need too much of either to make a tasty fried rice dish!

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6 Lawyer Loves Lunch July 26, 2011 at 7:36 PM

As a kid, I ate a lot of packaged ramen with diced hot dogs. The hubster can’t imagine hot dogs in anything other than a bun. Needless to say, I sent him your post as a way to prove him wrong. And man, you are raising some little photogs- those pictures are good! :)

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7 AMY July 31, 2011 at 8:24 PM

Oscar Mayer hot dogs were a staple in our household when I was a kid. I had it for breakfast (sometimes), spaghetti, pizza, but rarely in a bun! :-)

Gotta start the kids young…I’ll get them to start cooking for me soon….

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8 Stephanie @glutenfreebynature August 2, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Hi Amy,

I love this post. It’s honest and real. It’s life. It’s a hot mess – just like my life! And I love your recipe. I often make a riff on this when I’m in “clean out the fridge” mode. I love the idea of adding a touch of soy sauce though- I bet it gives such a nice little flavor boost!

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9 AMY August 3, 2011 at 10:40 AM

HI Stephanie – Thank you!

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10 Sue Park November 14, 2011 at 8:25 PM

I put “bokem bap” in google and your recipe was the 1st to pop up! I love this and it’s exactly what I was looking for! I’m not sure if F is ready for it though….she only has 1 molar and 4 on top and 3 on the bottom. But I’m definitely filing this away to make sooner or later :)

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11 AMY November 17, 2011 at 9:22 AM

It’s a great way to use up leftovers and feed the kids veggies. If you chop up everything really fine, I think F will be fine!

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