Light, delicious, umami-filled Tuna (Chamchi) Kimchi Fried Rice takes only 15 minutes from start to finish!
Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice
One of my favorite Korean food pairings is Kimchi + Tuna.
Yes, kimchi and tuna taste AMAZING together! All the bright acidity of kimchi. All the briny, umami-packed flavor of tuna. SO GOOD!
While I love Spam Kimchi Fried Rice, it’s better as a luxurious treat. For an everyday Kimchi Fried Rice recipe, I prefer canned tuna. A light, quick, and easy swap. But without all that saturated fat and heaviness.
Why canned tuna?
Korea is a peninsula surrounded by water. Fish is a staple part of the Korean diet. Canned tuna fish, called “Chamchi” in Korean, is much beloved as a Korean home cooking staple.
The benefits of canned tuna are many:
- high in protein
- full of healthy, omega-3 fatty acids
- low in calories + saturated fats
- easy to find at grocery stores
- lasts a long time in the pantry
One humble can of tuna transforms regular Kimchi Fried Rice into something very special!
Other Korean recipes starring canned tuna fish: Spicy Tuna Gimbap, Tuna Doepbap, Tuna Kimchi Pancakes, Tuna Kimchi Jjigae, Tuna Jumeokbap!
What’s in Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice? 6 pantry ingredients you may already have in your pantry:
- Kimchi. Use kimchi that’s very sour, ripe, and well-fermented for the best flavor. When cooked, old kimchi mellows out and takes on a deep intense flavor. New kimchi will not taste as good.
- Canned Tuna. Any kind of canned tuna works! See section below for more information.
- Leftover Cold Rice. Cold, leftover rice that’s been in the fridge for a day or two works best. The hard rice grains are perfect for fried rice! Freshly cooked rice is too warm and soft; the final dish will be mushy.
- Sesame Oil. A little drizzle of sesame oil adds nutty fragrance.
- Green Onions. The aromatic that keeps things fresh!
- Fish Sauce. Sprinkle a little bit at the end for better flavor.
What kind of canned tuna should I use?
I’ve made Tuna (Chamchi) Kimchi Fried Rice with just about every kind of canned tuna. They are all good.
There are 4 kinds generally available in grocery stores:
- Korean Spicy Canned Tuna. At the Korean market, there are several varieties of spicy canned tuna. They contain gochujang, spicy oil/sauce, crab, kimchi, and even bits of cubed potato. My favorite canned tuna.
- Korean Non-Spicy Canned Tuna. Tastes the same as tuna packed in water.
- Tuna packed in oil. Even when drained well, the residual traces of oil adds richness and deep briny flavor. The oil doesn’t taste too heavy or fishy.
- Tuna packed in water. More light tasting than tuna packed in oil, but still adds flavor and heft.
Optional but very delicious toppings:
- Furikake. A delicious layer of flavor!
- Sriracha. Adds that extra layer of spice and flavor! Drizzle as much as you like.
- Fried Egg. The Korean way to make a complete meal out of anything: top with a golden runny fried egg. Adds protein and that yolky goodness when it spills onto the rice — YUM!
- Cut Kimchi. In a small bowl, cut kimchi into small pieces with scissors. An easy, less messy way to chop kimchi than on a cutting board with kimchi juice running all over!
- Cook kimchi. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add a little oil. Add kimchi and cook until caramelized and soft.
- Add tuna. Add drained, canned tuna and keep cooking. Break apart the tuna with a spatula or wooden spoon until no big chunks remain.
- Add cold rice. Keep cooking, stirring everything together until well incorporated. Again, break apart the cold rice with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Season. Taste and add a sprinkle of fish sauce, if needed. Add sesame oil and green onions and mix well.
- Serve. Divide evenly between two bowls. Add furikake and a fried egg on top. Serve with sriracha on the side, for drizzling. Enjoy!
Watch how to make it:
Essential Cooking Tool: Non-stick Skillet
For Kimchi Fried Rice, a non-stick skillet is ideal. The kimchi juice and rice can burn and stick to the pan.
Non-stick surfaces also don’t require a lot of oil — too much can make this recipe overwhelmingly greasy.
A cast iron skillet or wok will also work. But make sure they are well-seasoned!
Note: Enameled cast iron (such as Le Creuset or Staub dutch ovens) do not work with fried rice. Everything sticks and burns.
- Break apart tuna chunks. For best texture and to avoid big chunks of tuna, break apart into small, evenly-sized bits. Press with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Note: tuna packed in water will be especially chunky.
- OLD kimchi is BEST! Old kimchi makes Kimchi Fried Rice taste extra special without any additional effort. When cooked down, the flavor is spectacular.
How do I store leftovers?
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and can last 3-4 days in the fridge.
Does this freeze well?
Yes, Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice freezes well. Store in a freezer-friendly container for up to 1 month. To defrost, heat in a microwave (covered) until hot and steaming. Stir and taste, adding more sesame oil if desired.
Other easy rice dishes:
- Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
- Spam Kimchi Fried Rice
- Gyeran Bap (Korean Egg Rice)
- Tornado Egg Omelette with Ginger Fried Rice
Easy Tuna Kimchi Fried Rice
- 1 150g/5.29oz can Tuna, packed in oil or water
- 1 1/2 cup kimchi + kimchi juice (old, well fermented kimchi preferred)
- 3 cups cold, leftover rice (cooked)
- 2 green onions, chopped
- fish sauce (light sprinkle, depending on taste)
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 Fried Eggs
- Furikake (optional)
- Sriracha (optional)
- Chop kimchi. Add kimchi and kimchi juice to a small bowl. Cut kimch into bite-sized pieces with scissors. A less messy option than using a cutting board!
- Cook kimchi. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat and add a little oil (1-2 tsp). Add kimchi and kimchi juice. Cook, mixing with wooden spoon, until golden orange, caramelized, and reduced in liquid. This process should take about 4-5 minutes.
- Add tuna. Add drained tuna and continue cooking, mixing well with the kimchi in the pan, about 2 minutes. Break up big chunks of tuna with a wooden spoon.
- Add cold rice. Breaking up the big chunks that clump together with the back of the wooden spoon. Keep mixing and cooking until the ingredients are well distributed and the rice is heated through, about 4-6 minutes. Toss the rice a few times (if you are comfortable with this technique) to make sure it's evenly cooked. There should be no big chunks of white rice.
- NOTE: When using canned tuna packed in water, you may need to add 1-3 tsp of oil to the skillet at this point. This will prevent sticking and also help to fry up the rice. You should hear a sizzle!
- Season. Taste and add a sprinkle of fish sauce, if needed. Drizzle with sesame oil. Add green onions. Cook for 1 minute longer, mixing well.
- Serve. Divide evenly between two bowls. Top with a fried egg, furikake, and a drizzle of sriracha, if using. Enjoy!
just made this for a quick WFH lunch. Easy and yummy! Was more amazing with the recommended runny fried egg and furikake. I forgot to add the fish sauce though! Next time!