Kimchi Fried Rice. Delicious, spicy, savory fried rice with kimchi, garlic and onions with your choice of protein and a fried egg on top. Ready in under 20 minutes with leftover rice!
What is Kimchi Fried Rice?
Kimchi Fried Rice (or Kimchi Bokkeumbap in Korean) is a delicious, spicy and savory fried rice dish popular in South Korea. A fantastic main dish as it uses many pantry ingredients that most Koreans would already have.
It's made of short grain rice, kimchi, onions, green onions, garlic, kimchi juice, gochujang paste or sometimes gochugaru, sesame oil, sesame seeds and with or without your choice of protein. Kimchi fried rice is usually topped off with a fried egg and roasted seaweed flakes.
Many Korean restaurants serve this tasty rice dish. The best part is that it comes together quickly and it's very satisfying!
What is kimchi?
It's a traditional Korean side dish in Korean food. There are many different types of kimchi. But the most popular one is spicy napa cabbage kimchi. It's made of napa cabbage, radish, carrots, gochugaru or Korean chili flakes, fish sauce, scallions, garlic, salt, and a sticky rice paste. Kimchi has a spicy flavor with a pickled tanginess and a depth of flavor!
Korean restaurants and many Korean households have their own kimchi recipe. The process of making homemade kimchi can be a wonderful family tradition. Tangy kimchi is among many side dishes at the dinner table in Korean cuisine. In addition, Korean kimchi is packed with probiotics making it a fantastic health food for gut health.
Other versions of kimchi include: green onion kimchi, white cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi and more. There is also vegan kimchi which doesn't include fish sauce. This is sold at some Korean grocery stores.
Easy Kimchi Fried Rice
This easy kimchi recipe is so simple if you have leftover rice! There aren’t many ingredients compared to my other fried rice recipes. The cooking process only takes less than 7-8 minutes. If it's your first time making this dish, I share step-by-step visuals, a recipe video and instructions on how to make this iconic Korean dish.
You’ll need the below ingredients for Kimchi Fried Rice. Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
Note: Most Asian grocers will carry these ingredients. You may find some at your select grocery store or online, like on Amazon.
- Day-old Cooked Short-Grain Rice: Leftover rice works best for this recipe so the rice grains don't clump together and remains fluffy as you fry it. I also prefer using sushi rice or short grain rice for this kimchi fried rice recipe.
- Most Koreans use this type of rice for this dish as it's a staple in any Korean household. However, feel free to substitute with jasmine rice, brown rice, or any leftover white rice.
- Well fermented kimchi: We will be using 1 cup kimchi. Please note there are different types of kimchi to purchase. The one we want is Spicy Napa Cabbage Kimchi and make sure there's enough juice at the base of the jar as we'll need it for this dish. Also go for store-bought kimchi that is pre-cut for you. Pre-cut is called "mat" on the jar of kimchi. Some napa cabbage kimchi come in the full leaf form and you'll have to cut it yourself.
- Note: there's also non-spicy white napa cabbage, avoid using this as it's not spicy and more pickled in taste
- Spam (ideally 25% less sodium): or sub with smoky bacon, pork belly, or hot dogs.
- Onion: a perfect way to add that sharp flavor to this traditional fried rice. If you're vegan or vegetarian, substitute with tofu or omit completely.
- Neutral oil: like avocado oil, sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil. Avoid olive oil, coconut oil or any heavy scented oils.
- Green onion or spring onions: to give our finished dish more color
- Fresh garlic: for that garlicky flavor!
- Kimchi juice: aka kimchi brine. A red juice that is the by product of the kimchi fermentation process.
- Gochujang sauce: a Korean chili paste that is sweet, spicy and smoky in taste. This will give our dish that extra heat! It's made of red chilies, sticky rice, fermented soybeans and salt. Any Korean grocery store and the Asian market will most likely carry this ingredient. You can also purchase it online, on Amazon. I like letting this sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes so it's easy to scoop.
- Sesame oil: toasted sesame oil for a nutty flavor. This is my favorite way to enhance the flavor of fried rice
- Sesame seeds: toasted sesame seeds work well as a garnish and for added flavor.
- Fried egg: a cooked egg sunny side up or easy over is highly recommended for the best fried rice! The runny yolks compliments the kimchi so well!
- Roasted seaweed flakes or roasted seaweed strips
How to Make Kimchi Fried Rice
Slice spam into small cubes, about 1 cm x 1 cm.
In a large skillet or large frying pan on medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil or any neutral oil. Fry diced spam or bacon for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.
On medium high heat, fry in garlic, white onion and chopped kimchi. Stir fry until onions are translucent and kimchi has released some of its juices, about 45-60 seconds.
Add in day-old cooked rice, kimchi juice, gochujang, sesame oil and mix everything together until rice becomes red in color.
Toss in cooked spam, green onions and sesame seeds. Mix altogether. Remove off heat.
Optional: Serve with a fried egg and roasted seaweed flakes.
This dish will last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes or reheat on the stove top in a pan over medium heat.
What's your favorite brand of kimchi?
I like purchasing the brands Jongga or Pulmuone. But the best kimchi for this simple dish is one you enjoy!
I also suggest purchasing the "mat" or pre-cut kimchi and look for any kimchi jar with much liquid. The liquid will be your spicy kimchi juice, required for this delicious meal for extra flavor!
Do I need to use day-old rice?
It's recommended but not mandatory.
If you have same day cooked rice, a great way to dry it out is by spreading the hot rice in an even layer on a baking sheet or sheet pan and freezing it for 45-60 minutes. The cold dry air removes some of the moisture content. Once the rice is dryer, use a wet rice paddle or clean wet hands to break up the rice.
How do I cook rice?
I use a rice cooker but you don't have to. There are plenty of recipes online on how to make rice in a normal pot on the stove top.
Do I need to add soy sauce to kimchi fried rice?
No, for this recipe I find it salty enough as is thanks to the kimchi and spam. But if you want it to be saltier, start by adding ½ teaspoon and more. You can also add fish sauce in replacement of soy sauce.
Where do I buy roasted seaweed flakes?
Most Korean grocers will sell this product. It looks something like this:
Other fried rice recipes you may enjoy!
- Chicken Fried Rice
- Egg Fried Rice
- Vegetable Fried Rice
- Shrimp Fried Rice
- Tomato Egg Fried Rice
- Spam Fried Rice
- Thai Basil Fried Rice
Easy Kimchi Fried Rice
- 2.5 cups cooked short grain rice day old (see Notes for how much uncooked rice to use)
- 1 cup kimchi well-fermented kind, chopped
- 7 oz spam or sub with bacon/pork belly/hot dogs. If vegetarian, omit completely or sub with tofu.
- ½ cup onion finely diced
- 1 green onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 tablespoon kimchi juice (from the kimchi jar)
- 2 teaspoon gochujang
- 2-3 teaspoon sesame oil toasted
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil or any neutral oil
Recommended optional toppings:
- 1 egg fried sunny side up or easy over
- 3 tablespoon Korean seasoned seaweed flakes or as needed
- Slice spam into small cubes, about 1 cm x 1 cm.
- In a large skillet or large frying pan on medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil or any neutral oil. Fry diced spam or bacon for 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the edges. Remove and set aside.
- On medium high heat, add garlic, white onion and chopped kimchi. Stir fry until onions are translucent and kimchi has released some of its juices, about 45-60 seconds.
- Add in day-old cooked rice, kimchi juice, gochujang, sesame oil and mix everything together until rice becomes red in color.
- Toss in cooked spam, green onions and sesame seeds. Mix altogether. Remove off heat.
- Serve with a fried egg and roasted seaweed flakes (optional but recommended).