Fast and tasty, Easy Kimchi Fried Rice is the 15-minute dinner that will become your favorite new go-to!
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 Easy 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 Easy Kimchi Fried Rice involves old kimchi and old rice. And a little pork, if you have it. In my recipe, I use Spam. But any odd bits of pork will work.
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!
Tips for great tasting Kimchi Fried Rice:
1. Cook down the kimchi until soft and caramelized
Cooking down the kimchi enhances all that kimchi flavor. The flavors will caramelize and concentrate in intensity. Cook until soft and the color looks orange-y red.
2. Old kimchi preferred
Kimchi is a fermented food that changes in taste, color, and texture as it ages. For this recipe, freshly packed kimchi will not taste as good as old, dark, juicy kimchi that’s been hanging out too long in the back of your fridge. Old kimchi tastes so good when cooked down. The cooking process *magically* transforms old kimchi to a less acidic, more mellow kimchi. There’s tons of flavor in old kimchi!
3. Use old, cold rice
Why cold rice? Freshly made rice is fluffy, soft, and moist. It will absorb liquid and become mushy. Old rice is hard, separated, cold, and dry to the touch. When cooked, it retains its shape without turning mushy and gummy.
I also suggest short grain rice as it will retain its shape better. Even medium grain rice will work. But long grain rice is too fluffy and delicate — it will break apart and turn to mush when cooked with the kimchi and liquid.
4. Add kimchi juice + gochujang for flavor boosters
Kimchi juice is LIQUID GOLD that makes everything taste better. Do not throw it out! Ever! Also, a spoonful of gochujang adds so much flavor.
5. KIMCHI + PORK = KOREAN BFFS
Just a little bit of pork adds SO much flavor to Kimchi Fried Rice! Throw in any kind of pork you like. I’ve used leftover pork roast, bacon, breakfast sausage, hot dog bits — all with delicious results. The recipe below calls for Spam but if you don’t have any, use any porky odds and ends that are in your fridge.
6. Essential tool: non-stick pan
The right pan can make or break your Kimchi Fried Rice. If you use the wrong pan, the rice and kimchi will burn and stick to the bottom of your pan. No amount of scraping will help! My favorite pan for Easy Kimchi Fried Rice: a ceramic, non-stick skillet. But I’ve also successfully cooked Kimchi Fried Rice in a non-stick T-fal skillet and even a non-stick soup pot. If you don’t have either, use a cast iron skillet or wok. But make sure both are well seasoned.
How to Make Kimchi Fried Rice:
Heat on medium and add some neutral oil. Optional: sizzle some diced up Spam.
Add chopped kimchi, kimchi juice, and gochujang. Cook until soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes.
Add cold, cooked rice and sesame seeds. Mix well. Break up the rice with a wooden spoon (or potato masher) so no clumps remain. Add sugar and fish sauce. Mix well. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt, if needed.
Serve this Easy Kimchi Fried Rice with a fried egg and green onion. Enjoy!
Kimchi Fried Rice
- 1 package Spam, cubed (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups kimchi + kimchi juice (old, mature kimchi preferred)
- 1-2 tsp gochujang
- 3 cups cooked rice (cold, at least 1 day old)
- 3 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
- 1 green onion (chopped)
- Heat non-stick pan on medium heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 1 Tbsp. Add cubed Spam and toss until crispy looking on the edges, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add kimchi and the kimchi juice. Mix thoroughly with pork and cook down until soft and caramelized, about 5 minutes. The color should change to an orange-y red color and the liquid should thicken. If the liquid evaporates too quickly, add more kimchi juice or lower the heat of the pan.
- Add cold rice and sesame seeds. Break up with a wooden spoon (or potato masher) until no clumps remain. Mix thoroughly with kimchi and Spam until well combined, about 5 minutes.. Add sugar and fish sauce. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt, if needed.
- Remove from heat. Add sesame seed oil and green onion. Top with a fried egg and sriracha, if desired. Enjoy!
More Kimchi Inspiration:
Kimchi Jjim [Braised Kimchi]
Or check out the Kimchi archives!