Delicious Spam Kimchi Fried Rice is the easiest 15-minute meal or snack! A Korean pantry meal that tastes like a feast! Incredibly delicious, full of BIG kimchi flavor, and so quick and easy to put on the table. Add a fried egg on top for the ultimate easy decadence!
Spam Kimchi Fried Rice
Spam Kimchi Fried Rice is an easy, 15-minute Korean meal. A quick pantry meal or late-night snack — it’s simple to make and only requires a few basic ingredients: kimchi, leftover rice, and spam.
Also called Spam Kimchi Bokkeumbap, I turn to this recipe when the cupboards are bare. A great recipe because it’s fast, tasty, and very easy and convenient to put together. I always have leftover rice in the fridge — making this especially appealing as a pantry meal. Plus, the flavor is so delicious!
Spam pairs especially well with Kimchi because the acidic, fermented flavor of spicy kimchi cuts through the fatty richness of Spam. Together, Kimchi + Spam complement each other beautifully!
In Kimchi Fried Rice, Spam provides that luxuriously fatty and porky richness. You don’t need much — just a little bit adds so much delicious salty, incredibly delicious flavor!
- Spam. Adds salty, porky richness. My preference is 1/2 a can but my meat-loving partner loves a full can. Add however much you like! Also, a small dice (1/4 inch) adds little bits of porky flavor while a large dice (1-inch) adds big chunks. Again, choose the dice you prefer best.
- Kimchi + Kimchi juice. Old kimchi is preferred! Kimchi is a fermented food item and tastes very different depending on age. For fried rice, old, well-matured kimchi is preferred. Fresh kimchi does not taste good when cooked.
- Rice. For the best texture, cold refrigerated leftover rice is preferred. I recommend short grain rice (Sushi rice or Sweet Rice) or medium grain rice (Jasmine, Calrose, Japonica). I don’t recommend long grain rice (Basmati or Carolina rice) as it will break apart when cooked.
- Gochujang + Fish Sauce. The flavor boosters. Just a little bit adds so much flavor!
- Sesame Oil. A drizzle of this nutty aromatic at the end is perfection!
- Green onions. Adds freshness and color.
- Cube Spam. Choose what you like best: A large 1-inch dice will give you meaty big chunks. A small 1/4-inch dice will give you more evenly distributed bits of porky flavor.
- Fry Spam. Crisp up the Spam first. The rendered fat will flavor the rice.
- Caramelize kimchi. Add kimchi and cook until caramelized, orange, and soft. Enhances all that kimchi flavor to a concentrated intensity.
- Flavor boosters. Add a small spoonful of gochujang for extra flavor. Add a sprinkle or two of fish sauce at the end of the cooking process for best flavor.
- Toppings: Fried Egg, a drizzle of sesame oil, and green onions. You can also add sesame seeds, furikake, or sriracha.
Essential Kitchen Tools:
- Non-stick skillet or wok. A non-stick surface prevents everything from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. The kimchi juice and gochujang can become quite sticky and syrupy. A large cooking surface is also necessary to toss and move around the kimchi fried rice. You’ll need more room than you think! A non-stick pan (affiliate) is easiest. But a non-stick, seasoned carbon steel pan (affiliate) or wok (affiliate) will also work well.
- Large spatula. A large Oxo fish spatula (affiliate) is my favorite multi-purpose tool for stirring and tossing fried rice.
- OLD Kimchi tastes best! For the best flavor, use sour kimchi that’s old and well-fermented. Fresh kimchi will not taste the same in this recipe. When cooked, old kimchi becomes deliciously mellow and deeply flavorful.
- Coat rice with seasoning. When cooking the rice and kimchi together, make sure every rice grain is well coated with kimchi, kimchi juice, and gochujang. The rice should be uniformly red with no white bits of rice.
- Taste and adjust flavor. As a fermented food item, kimchi continues to change in flavor as its ages. At the end of the cooking process, taste and adjust: if it tastes too salty or spicy, add a pinch of sugar. If it tastes bland, add a sprinkle of fish sauce.
What if I don’t have old rice? Can I use fresh rice instead?
For fried rice recipes, the rice grains need to be hard, dry, and cold for best texture. Soft, freshly cooked rice is too soft and mushy.
If you don’t have leftover rice, simply cook rice as usual. Spread the hot, freshly cooked rice onto a sheet pan. Place in the fridge until cold and hard, about 30-45 minutes.
What is Spam? Why is it so popular in Korean food?
Spam is a popular canned pork product made by Hormel, a US company based in Minnesota. It’s also very popular in Korean cuisine.
After the Korean War (1950-53), the US army widely distributed Spam during its occupation. Although Koreans first cooked with Spam out of necessity, they quickly incorporated it into Korean cuisine and made it their own. (For example, Budae Jjigae or Army Base Stew).
The fatty, salty flavor of porky Spam pairs especially well with Korean food! A little bit adds so much richness, flavor, and depth. It’s frequently cooked in jjigaes (stews), stir fries, and even pan fried with egg wash.
Can I make this vegetarian?
Yes, Kimchi Fried Rice is easy to make vegetarian. Simply leave out the Spam and make kimchi fried rice without it. Also, make sure to use vegetarian kimchi as it contains small amounts of fish, shrimp, and other seafood.
More fried rice dishes:
Spam Kimchi Fried Rice
- Large non-stick skillet
- 1/2 package Spam, cubed (use the whole can for a meatier dish)
- 1 1/2 cups kimchi + kimchi juice (old, mature kimchi preferred)
- 1 Tbsp gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
- 3 cups cooked rice (cold, at least 1 day old; short or medium grain preferred)
- 1-2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce (to taste)
- 1 fried egg
- 1 tsp 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!