Kimchi fried rice is a quick and delicious dish that is easy enough to make during the week or the weekend. This basic recipe packs extra kimchi flavor and spice!
Kimchi fried rice, also known as kimchi bokkeumbap (김치볶음밥) has become a popular way to prepare kimchi since it is cheap and easy to make. So, it is especially common amongst students, who often cannot afford to spend too much money on food. The spiciness of kimchi rice pairs well with cooling dishes like danmuji (yellow pickled radish) and sukjunamul muchim (bean sprout salad).
There are many variations of kimchi bokkeumbap. My recipe has a higher ratio of kimchi to rice at around 1 cup to 2 cups for a kimchi-focused flavor. Other recipes generally use 1 cup of kimchi to 3 cups of rice. This kimchi fried rice with gochujang is an almost vegetarian kimchi fried rice because it relies on just kimchi and rice. I even used homemade kimchi for this recipe. If you want to make vegan/vegetarian kimchi fried rice, make sure the kimchi you are using does not include any fish sauce, salted shrimp, or any other similar ingredients.
However, you can choose to mix the ingredients such as the following into your kimchi bokkeumbap as well:
- Pork belly, spam, beef, chicken, bacon, ham, canned tuna
- Onions, carrots, mushroom, corn, zucchini
How to Make Kimchi Bokkeumbap
Prepare the Ingredients
Take some day-old fried rice and break it up into smaller chunks to make the stir-frying later on easier. Then, chop the kimchi into bite-sized pieces and mince the garlic.
Fry the Rice
Stir fry some garlic until lightly browned.
Add in the chopped kimchi and gochujang and stir-fry for a few more minutes until the kimchi starts to smell fragrant and crisp up. Cooking some of the moisture out of the kimchi out also helps prevent the fried rice from getting too soggy in the next step.
Then, add the rice into the mixture. Toss well to combine so that the rice grains separate nicely and the mixture is uniform. Stir-fry for a few more minutes to heat and slightly toast the rice.
Finally, mix in the kimchi juice and sesame oil. Remove the pan from the heat and optionally garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, fried eggs, and seaweed.
Tips for kimchi fried rice
- Use day-old fried rice: Day-old fried rice is much drier than freshly prepared rice, which prevents mushy fried rice.
- If you need to use freshly cooked rice, then spread it thinly on a large baking sheet while it is still hot. This step will remove the moisture from the cooked rice as quickly as possible. Let it sit until cool.
- When frying the gochujang, it can stick a bit to the bottom of the pan. To ensure that the pepper paste does not burn, you can add one or two tablespoons of water to the pan to loosen the paste off of the bottom.
- Aged Kimchi: Using aged kimchi, which is more sour and pungent than fresh kimchi, will result in better flavor.
- For newer/fresher kimchi: you can add more kimchi juice to make the flavors more pronounced.
- For aged kimchi: If you feel that the kimchi you are using is particularly sour, you can add a pinch of sugar to balance out the flavors.
- Salt: also, depending on the salinity of your kimchi, you may or may not need to add a pinch of salt at the end.
- Adding other ingredients: This is a basic vegetarian kimchi fried rice. However, to make this kimchi dish more flavorful, you can also add about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup worth of protein or vegetables, such as pork belly or tofu. If you would like to include a protein, add it at the very beginning and adjust the spice and salinity levels accordingly.
Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
- 2 cups rice preferably day-old rice
- 1 cup kimchi chopped
- 1 tbsp kimchi juice more or less to taste
- 1-2 tbsp gochujang Korean red pepper paste
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 green onion chopped
- 2 eggs fried
- sesame seeds
- roasted seaweed (gim), shredded
- Heat around one tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds to one minute, just until lightly browned.
- Add the chopped kimchi and gochujang and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until it starts to smell fragrant and crisp up. Frying the kimchi also helps to prevent the rice from getting too soggy/mushy in the following step.
- Add the rice to the kimchi. Mix well to combine so that the rice separates nicely and the mixture is uniform in color. Continue to stir-fry for a few more minutes to heat the rice thoroughly and toast slightly.
- Mix in the kimchi juice and sesame oil. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and add a pinch of salt or sugar if needed.
- Optionally garnish with green onion, sesame seeds, fried eggs, and gim before serving.