Kimchi Fried Rice

I have to tell you, friends, I’m feeling a little pressure here. Like I need to choose my words carefully to convey to you how good this dish is. (How’s this? So good.) Most of the time I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I write here–I mean, who among us doesn’t love baked chard stems and butternut squash tacos and raw Brussels sprout salads? But here, with this dish, maybe we’re going out on a limb a little bit together. It’s fermented. It’s a little spicy. And I used white rice.

Be fearless. This is the kind of food that makes your mouth tingle with happiness (maybe it’s all the salt, but still). The texture is crunch and chew, the flavors are savory and bright. If you’re not already mad for kimchi, you will be soon.

Kimchi Fried Rice

Just a few items to note. First, this is a great way to use up leftover rice, but of course there’s no shame in cooking and cooling rice just for this dish. Second, of course you could use other (or more) vegetables; just cut them small. And finally, while it’s well-established that a fried egg on top of your food is never a bad idea, this rice is also delicious simply topped with an additional handful of diced tofu cubes.

Kimchi Fried Rice (adapted from Herbivoracious and The Kitchn): Fry 3 thinly-sliced cloves of garlic in 2 Tbsp. oil over high heat, then add a small-diced block of drained tofu and fry until browned. (Remove a few spoonfuls from the pan if you’d like to garnish your finished dish with tofu cubes instead of an egg.) Add a heaping double handful of thinly-sliced cabbage or other greens and continue cooking until they are tender and brown in spots. Add 2 c. cold leftover rice, along with a little more oil if the pan is dry and cook, scraping the pan occasionally, until the rice is chewy and crispy and browned in places. (Michael Natkin wisely advises cooking the rice for “as long as you can stand it.”) Reduce the heat a little if necessary to cook the rice well without letting it stick or burn.

When the rice has enough crisp bits to satisfy you, remove from heat and immediately add 1 c. drained spicy napa cabbage kimchi, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and a splash each of soy sauce and sesame oil (to taste; I used about a tsp. of each). Stir to warm through. Serve with the reserved fried tofu or a fried egg on top. Green onions are also a handsome garnish if you can remember to use them (I couldn’t).


20 thoughts on “Kimchi Fried Rice

  1. Donna D

    I love fried rice with an egg to use up leftover rice. Another great combo is Mexican Rice (rice with jalapeno, garlic, tomato) heated up, egg cracked over, then covered until the egg is perfectly steamed – delicious!

  2. ieatthepeach

    Oh, yes. I’m a kimchi fried rice believer. As far as I’m concerned, the fried egg on top is not negotiable–I love the mix of spicy cabbage, crispy rice, and gooey yolk.

  3. Janey Petty

    Yay for Korean dishes! I’m only slightly biased :-) Kimchi Fried Rice was comfort food for me growing up. Still is! Here’s a slight variation from my mom’s kitchen…We would use the kimichi juice and cut up the kimchi in smaller pieces and throw it in with the rice to fry together. It makes the rice moist, spicy, and you get a really great carmelization to the kimichi itself. In addition to the egg & slivers of green onions), bits of dried seawood and roasted sesame seeds. Kimchi Fried Rice is also a close companion to Bi Bim Bap if you would like try out another Korean favorite!

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  5. musingmar

    This looks delicious, but I’m not a fan of kimchi. But, to be fair, I’ve only tried it from one take-out place so it could be that I just haven’t had the right kimchi love experience!

  6. Allison

    This looks great! Although in my opinion, the key to kimchi fried rice is also sauteing the kimchi itself for a few minutes, since– I love raw kimchi too, but– I think kimchi undergoes an amazing transformation to a mellower yet still spicy, addictive flavor when it’s a little bit cooked.

    And oh yes, nearly everything is better with a fried egg on top! : )

  7. Jayne

    I have about 1/2 cup full of kimchi left in the fridge, begging me to use it! This is going to be lunch tomorrow :-)

  8. baconbiscuit212

    I love kimchi friend rice. I keep kimchi and a tub of gochujang in the fridge just for this reason. Good reason, no?

    But frankly, I think I will also eat anything with a fried egg on top :-)

  9. Hannah

    This does make my mouth tingle with happiness! Your photo is so tempting – definitely dinner tonight. I just got the new Kimchi Cookbook and look forward to lots of kimchi love.


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