Fast and tasty, Spam Kimchi Fried Rice is the easy 15-minute meal or snack that makes leftover rice and old kimchi taste like a luxurious treat!
When I’m ravenously hungry and exhausted with life, there is nothing tastier or quicker to make than Easy Kimchi Fried Rice with Spam.
Also known as Kimchi Bokkeumbap, this simple 15-minute recipe is a Korean household staple. Frequently made as a late night snack or when the cupboards run bare, it’s so easy to make! All you need is old kimchi and old rice. Plus a can of Spam.
Topped with a fried egg and sprinkle of green onions, it really hits the spot! Tasty and fast, make Spam Kimchi fried rice a regular part of your weeknight meal repertoire!
What is Spam? Why does it taste good with kimchi?
Spam is a popular canned pork product made by Hormel, a US company based in Minnesota. Although Spam did not originate in South Korea, it has a long history with Korean food and culture. 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 made it their own. (For example, Budae Jjigae or Army Base Stew).
Spam is salty, fatty, and full of porky richness. A little bit provides tons of umami flavor. A canned food product, it’s also shelf stable and lasts a long time in the pantry.
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 flavor!
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!
- Spam. Adds salty, porky richness.
- Old kimchi. Kimchi is a fermented food item and tastes vastly different depending on age. For fried rice, old, well-matured kimchi is preferred. You can tell when kimchi is old because it’s dark, juicy, very soft, and fizzes in your mouth. All that fermented, acidic goodness contains tons of flavor when cooked. Fresh kimchi does not taste good when cooked.
- Old 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 and/or Fish Sauce. The flavor boosters.
- Sesame Oil. A drizzle of this nutty aromatic at the end is perfection!
- Green onions. Adds freshness and color.
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. That’s why most recipes recommend day-old rice that’s been refrigerated. Soft, freshly cooked rice is too soft and mushy.
In many Asian households, rice is a mealtime staple. Invariably, there’s always leftover rice in the fridge. That’s why fried rice is a quick, easy meal and a great way to use up leftovers.
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.
Tips for the BEST Kimchi Fried Rice:
- Cube Spam. Your choice: 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. Enhances all that kimchi flavor to a concentrated intensity.
- Old kimchi preferred! For this recipe, fresh kimchi will not taste as good.
- Old rice preferred! For the best texture. Small grain or Medium grain.
- Flavor booster: Gochujang. Add a small spoonful for extra flavor.
- Flavor booster: Fish Sauce. Add a sprinkle or two at the end of the cooking process for best flavor.
- Toppings: Fried Egg, drizzle of sesame oil, green onions. You can also add sesame seeds, furikake, or sriracha.
Essential tool: Non-Stick Skillet
For easy cooking and clean up, I recommend a non-stick pan with a wide cooking surface.
The non-stick surface prevents everything from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Unlike other fried rice dishes, Kimchi Fried Rice is tricky to cook because the kimchi juice and gochujang can become quite sticky and syrupy. The extra liquid in kimchi juice and high sugar content of gochujang require a non-stick surface!
Also, a large cooking surface makes it easier to evenly coat all the rice grains with the kimchi “sauce.” Either toss a few times in the pan or use a spatula or wooden spoon to mix well.
Note: Teflon or ceramic non-stick skillets both work. A wok or cast iron skillet also work well but make sure they are well seasoned!
More Kimchi dishes to love:
- Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice
- Kimchi Jjigae [Kimchi Stew]
- Kimchi Jjim [Braised Kimchi]
- Kimchi Juice + Buttermilk Brined Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Kimchi Mayo
- Kimchi Queso Dip
How to Make Spam Kimchi Fried Rice:
- Sizzle some diced up Spam.
- Add chopped kimchi, kimchi juice, and gochujang. Cook until soft and caramelized.
- Add old rice. Break up the cold rice with a wooden spoon (or potato masher) so no clumps remain.
- Taste and season: Add sugar and fish sauce. Mix well. Taste and add a sprinkle of salt, if needed.
- Serve Spam Kimchi Fried Rice with a drizzle of sesame oil, green onion, and fried egg on top. Enjoy!
Easy Kimchi Fried Rice with Spam
- 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)
- 1-2 tsp gochujang
- 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!