Ahh, kimchi fried rice. Known in Korean as kimchi bokkeumbap, it’s quite possibly my favorite food in the world. Spam (or in my case, thick bacon) with sour and spicy and garlicky kimchi together with white rice and fluffy bits of scrambled egg. Calories for days of course, but totally worth it.
How this delicious dish came about, I’m not certain. But whoever came up with it was a genius. There’s just so much going on in it. Each grain of rice seems to have soaked up the tangy juice of the kimchi, the salty and smoky grease of the bacon, it’s softness in contrast to the crisp bacon and the crunch of the napa cabbage. So much to love in it.
I was taught the secret ingredient by my mother a while back. Kimchi fried rice was my favorite meal back when I was a wee-Kee-ju, and whenever I would come back from college for holiday break, my mom would always cook up a gigantic pan of it just for me (in fact, I still think about my mom whenever I make this dish, and thank that she got me started cooking Korean food).
The secret ingredient?
Butter. And not just a little pat of it. We’re talking like half a stick of butter or more.
And even with all that bacon.
(Told you – calories for days. Yet still totally worth it)
All that fat and salt and carbs end up making it THE best kimchi fried rice recipe that I’ve ever attempted and eaten.
Best Kimchi Fried Rice Recipe
2 cups cooked white jasmine rice
8 strips thick cut bacon (you can always add more if you want to – this is minimum quantity required)
2 cups + 1 cup classic napa cabbage kimchi (homemade if possible)
4 tbsp butter
- Cut bacon into 1/4 inch pieces, width-wise. We want to essentially create little pieces of bacon that will distribute well within the rice.
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat until sizzling. Place bacon in pan, breaking up with the end of a spoon or chopsticks. Fry the bacon until brown and semi-crispy, being careful to keep it from burning. Recommend using a splatterguard to prevent your stove from getting dirty and from getting dirty looks from your husband who just cleaned the stove.
- Add the rice to the bacon, making sure to break up all clumps of rice. Mix and turn the rice with the bacon until evenly distributed. You want to essentially have every single rice grain coated evenly in the bacon grease, so ensure that the rice is well separated.
- Add 2 cups kimchi to the rice, mixing thoroughly. The rice should start getting a bit of an orange color to it. Keep turning it until the color is evenly distributed.
- Clear out the center of the pan. Add 4 tbsp butter, allowing it to melt into the center.
- Beat the egg, then pour into middle of the pan. Allow it to fry for a few seconds, then scramble with spoon or chopsticks. Mix evenly into the rest of the rice.
- Fold in the remaining 1 cup of kimchi and serve sizzling hot
- When it comes to fried rice, use white rice. Brown rice just doesn’t turn out the same. Even if you only use white rice for fried rice, it’s totally worth it. If you’re of the paleo crowd, you might just believe that white rice is better for you than white rice anyway.
- If you possibly can, use day-old rice that has been sitting in the refrigerator. It fries up a lot better since the rice grains have firmed up and are easier to separate. This is, incidentally, what most restaurants do with old rice. Bam, fried rice. You’re welcome.
- I recommend adding the uncooked kimchi at the end of the recipe since sometimes the full-kimchi flavor is lost during the cooking process. Adding extra kimchi at the end helps to ensure that it has a good amount of the kimchi flavor, while also adding another textural element with the crunchier, uncooked kimchi. It may also incidentally help to preserve some of the good bacteria and give you a probiotic benefit.
- You can also crack an egg atop sizzling hot kimchi fried rice like they do in some Korean restaurants. My mom used to serve a soft boiled egg atop the dish that you could mash up and mix into the rice. Anyway you add it in is great.
- This recipe is made with bacon, but you could also sub in any other smoked meat. Spam, Chinese sausage, kielbasa, prosciutto, even smoked trout sounds promising.
- My mom serves this with a bowl of hot soup. She traditionally served it with a simple egg-drop soup, but we find that a bowl of bone broth, seaweed soup, or tom yum soup really helps to cut through the intensity of the fried rice.