When you stumble home from work, ravenously hungry and completely exhausted from life, there is nothing tastier and quicker to make than a bowl full of kimchi fried rice. Topped with a fried egg, sprinkle of sesame seeds, and sliced green onions, this 15-minute dish feels like a luxurious treat.
The key to making good Kimchi Fried Rice involves old kimchi and old rice. And a little pork, if you have it. Some leftover roast pork, a sausage link or two, a few bacon strips, some spam, or that random hot dog that never got eaten at the BBQ. These odds and ends make Kimchi Fried Rice taste extra special.
All to say, this is not a fancy recipe or a new one. In fact, I’m somewhat embarrassed to post this recipe because it’s such a simple, use-what-you’ve-got staple in Korean households.
This dish is simply a clever way to get rid of leftovers. It tastes different every time, depending on the contents of your fridge and the quality and age of your kimchi. Make it a few times and you’ll get the hang of it. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to whip up this dish without any thinking, too.
I don’t know how many times my Halmoni and I ate kimchi fried rice when we were too tired to make a decent meal and there was nothing to eat in the house. Sometimes, we’d eat it straight from the pot, standing in front of the stove, taking turns, and waiting for the other to finish before digging up our own spoonful. Mmmm, it always tasted so good.
Whenever I make this dish, I think of my Halmoni. When you make this dish, I hope it reminds you of someone you love and who loves you, too. Enjoy!
Take a non-stick pan or well seasoned cast iron skillet. Heat on medium-high and add some neutral oil, about 3 Tb. If you have any pork (leftover pork roast, bacon, a sausage link or two, spam, hot dog bits, etc.), sizzle them into the pan.
I used regular ground pork here because that’s what I had on hand. But I wouldn’t necessarily go out and buy regular ground pork for this dish. If you have a hankering for kimchi fried rice and are looking to buy specific ingredients, my recommendation is hot + spicy sausage. You can also skip this part if you’d prefer to go vegetarian.
Add the kimchi and kimchi juice. If you haven’t discovered yet, kimchi juice is LIQUID GOLD that makes everything taste better so do not throw it out! Ever! If you don’t have that much kimchi juice, simply add a little water to your existing kimchi juice. You can add a spoonful of gochujang and mix it with the water if you feel it needs a flavor boost.
Cook down the kimchi and kimchi juice into the pork, about 5 minutes.
Add cold, cooked rice and keep cooking the mixture. Break up the rice with a wooden spoon (or fish spatula, if you’re using a cast iron skillet like me) so no clumps remain.
Why cold rice? Freshly made rice is fluffy, soft, and moist. It will absorb any liquid you add, to a detrimental effect. Old rice is hard, separated, cold, and dry to the touch. When fried, it retains its shape without turning mushy and gummy.
If you don’t have leftover rice, you can refrigerate freshly made rice on a baking sheet until it’s cold and loses most of its moisture, about 20 minutes or so. That’s a tip I read on the America’s Test Kitchen website a long time ago. Genius idea if you don’t regularly eat rice but want to make this dish.
Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Sometimes, you may need to add a little more kimchi juice if it gets too dry.
Serve with a fried egg, sprinkle of sesame seeds, a handful of sliced green onion, and a little sriracha for some added heat. Enjoy!
Classic Korean comfort food made from old, sour kimchi, cold rice, and the leftover bits of pork from your fridge. A delicious, 15-minute meal!
- 3 cups cooked rice cold (not freshly cooked)
- 1 1/2 cups kimchi + kimchi juice (extra juicy) old, mature kimchi preferred
- 1/2 cup pork (ground pork, sausage, bacon, hot dog, spam, etc.) any kind of pork will do
- sesame seed oil
- sesame seeds
- green onion sliced
- neutral cooking oil
Heat non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 3 Tb.
Add pork and let it sizzle away. If the pork is fully cooked, let it heat up and brown a bit on the edges. If the pork is raw, cook thoroughly until no pink remains.
Add kimchi and the kimchi juice. Mix thoroughly with pork and cook down until kimchi has softened and juice has reduced somewhat, about 5 minutes.
Add cold rice. Break up with a wooden spoon until no clumps remain. Mix thoroughly with kimchi and pork mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and kimchi juice if necessary.
Remove from heat. Add sesame seed oil (about 1-2 Tb), sesame seeds, and sliced green onion. Top with a fried egg and sriracha, if desired. Enjoy!
This is a great way to use old, sour kimchi and leftover rice, as well as odd bits of pork that are hanging around in your fridge. If you do not have leftover rice that has been refrigerated, you can make rice and then spread it on a baking sheet to cool in the fridge. Thanks to America's Test Kitchen for this tip!