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Kimchi Fried Rice: Give Your Leftover Rice a Makeover

Kimchi Fried Rice: Give Your Leftover Rice a Makeover


There are few foods out there as comforting as fried rice. The delicious vegetables, the sweet rice with rich flavors, and the creamy egg combine to make a fantastic dish that’s so easy to make! 


But if you’re looking to step up your fried rice game, you need to bring kimchi fried rice into your culinary repertoire. This Korean take on a famous dish adds a spicy element to the flavor that ties the meal together in a whole new way. 


So let’s talk about kimchi fried rice and how to make it. That leftover rice from last night is about to get a makeover! 

 

How Long Does Leftover Rice Stay Fresh? 

Leftover rice can stay fresh for a while, depending on how you store it. If you store it correctly, you can keep your leftover rice in the refrigerator for up to four days, and it can be stored in the freezer for up to two months! 


That way, you can have extra lying around to reheat, whether that’s kimchi fried rice or Shirakiku Bulgogi fried rice


In fact, leftover rice is actually better for this recipe. Freshly cooked rice has a lot of moisture still trapped inside each grain. So if you cook with it, the dish can get soggy, clumpy, and thick – which isn’t ideal for a take on fried rice.


But leftover rice has dried out a little bit, allowing the rice to get a delicate crisp on the outside. It’s perfect for kimchi fried rice!


How Should Leftover Rice Be Stored? 

When you’re keeping leftover rice, there are two good ways to store it. 


First, you can put it in an airtight container and put it in the fridge. This will help the rice stay good for about three or four days. 


But if you put your rice in the freezer, it can keep for much longer. Frozen rice will keep for up to two months. Both methods are great for this recipe.

 

Can I Use Any Kind of Rice For Kimchi Fried Rice? 

If you want the best fried rice possible, you’re going to want to use the right rice.

 

Short Grain Rice vs. Long Grain Rice 

Your best option is long grain rice, but medium grain will also do. These rice types will stay a bit drier, allowing them to stick to each other just a little to form that nice round mound of rice without getting a clumpy texture. 


Short grain rice is a little higher in moisture content, so it’s usually much stickier and softer than long grains. If you use it in fried rice, you might get a strange, lumpy, thick texture.


Many people prefer to add jasmine rice for a little extra flavor. The aroma and flavor can really take this dish to a whole new level if you enjoy jasmine rice. But you can also use brown rice if you prefer it!

 

What Ingredients Do I Need For Kimchi Fried Rice? 

Kimchi fried rice is a super simple dish to make, and it doesn’t take that many ingredients.

 

Fresh Kimchi 

You can’t have kimchi fried rice without the kimchi. This famous Korean food is a fantastic concoction of napa cabbage fermented in natural cultures with loads of delicious spices. It’s salty, tangy, and spicy, making it a great counterpart to the slightly sweet rice. 

 

Rice 

Again, it’s best to have medium or long grain rice, and you’ll probably get the best results if you use day-old, refrigerated rice. 


You can get good results with freshly cooked rice, but you’ll need to use slightly less water than normal to make sure the rice is dry enough to nail the texture of fried rice. 

 

Veggies of Choice 

It doesn’t have to be just rice and kimchi in this dish. All sorts of vegetables are invited to the party. 


Give it a kick of umami with some enoki mushrooms, or maybe add a new depth of flavor with minced onion. Give it some nice contrasting colors and extra fiber with some kale. Or maybe garnish with scallions, some green onion, or even seaweed. 


There are a lot of directions you can go with this flexible dish, so feel free to use whatever veggies are lying around. 


Our favorite ingredients include: 


  • Carrots
  • Ginger
  • Radishes
  • Peppers

All of these are great vegetables to add to your fried rice. If you want to add a little protein to your kimchi fried rice recipe, you’re welcome to do just that! 


It’s common to add bacon, spam, pork belly, beef, or tofu to your dish. Bacon and spam add a savory, saltiness that can really elevate the dish. 

 

Eggs 

Topping your kimchi fried rice with a beautiful over-easy egg is the perfect finishing touch to this dish. The runny egg yolk gives a delicious creaminess in every bite that delicately compliments the spiciness. 


The egg’s yellow and white contrast the red color of the kimchi, making for a visually striking dish. Not to mention, the eggs will give your kimchi fried rice a nice boost of protein to complete the whole meal. 

 

Sesame Oil and Cooking Oil 

You’ll need a little bit of cooking oil to fry up your veggies and your rice. It’s best to use a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil to not corrupt the flavor. 


Non-neutral oils like olive or coconut won’t really mix well with the kimchi. 


You can mix in some sesame oil as a finishing touch right before you serve it up. The light toastiness is a savory addition that can enhance the subtlety of flavor in your dish.

 

Garlic 

Of course, adding garlic is a must! Add however much you like. Add garlic to the rest of your vegetables to add an acidic sweetness with a touch of nuttiness. 

 

How To Cook Kimchi Fried Rice 

This recipe is relatively easy to cook, and, believe it or not, it only takes one pan! It’s easy for a night when you want an easy recipe with minimal cleanup. With that said, let’s dive into the how-to. 


If you have a wok on hand, it’s the best pan for the job. The round sides and bottom will help to cook everything quickly and evenly. But if you don’t have a wok, a large skillet will work just as fine. 

 

Cook Kimchi and Garlic in Oil 

First, thing’s first: heat your oil. Getting the oil hot before you add your ingredients will help ensure an even cook. So set your stove to medium-high heat and let the oil head up for one to two minutes. 


Kimchi often comes in pretty big pieces, so make sure you chop it into bite-sized pieces for an easy eating experience later. 


Then, you’re going to want to stir fry your kimchi and garlic in your neutral oil. 


Getting these cooked before the rest of the vegetables will release all of the flavors and aromas so that the incoming ingredients can absorb them. This is where the bulk of your flavor comes from, so it’s important not to skip this crucial step. 

 

Add Your Vegetables 

After the kimchi and garlic have cooked for a couple minutes, it’s time to add your vegetables. Toss your vegetables into the pan and begin cooking. You want to cook your vegetables until they’re your desired level of softness, about three to five minutes. 


To give your veggies a nice even cook, it’s best to stir frequently. Since the heat is on medium-high heat, this will help your veggies not get cooked on one side or the other. 

 

Add Rice and Sesame Oil 

Next, add in your rice and sesame oil to your own taste and begin to mix everything together, while still on the heat. The goal with this step is to incorporate all of the flavors to make an even mixture and to heat up the rice to get it to a serving temperature. 


If you want a little extra flavor and spiciness, during this step, add some extra kimchi juice from the jar or maybe a spoonful of gochujang, which is a Korean chili paste. When blended together, this will seamlessly create a surprising balance of hot and sweet flavors.

 

Garnish and Enjoy 

After the rice is heated and the flavors are all incorporated, it’s time to serve up your delicious dish. If you want to have a delicious presentation, pack your rice into a round bowl, then turn the bowl upside down on a plate and remove the bowl, leaving behind a perfectly rounded mound of spicy umami goodness! 


After you’ve taken your rice out of the pan, quickly cook up that fried egg and gently place it on top of your mound of kimchi fried rice. Then garnish with whatever you like: black sesame seeds, nori seasoning, or green onions are great options. 

 

The Bottom Line 

Kimchi fried rice, or Korean fried rice, is one of those easy, delicious recipes that just never get old. It’s spicy, tangy, sweet, savory, and easy to make. What more could you ask for? 


And if you want kimchi, gochujang, or other Asian ingredients delivered right to your doorstep, check out Umamicart for all your grocery needs!



Sources

Fried Rice | The Splendid Table 

Rice Basics | Food Hero 

Understanding and Making Kimchi | Colorado State University

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