Kimchi fried rice is one of my first ventures into asian cooking. For those who are afraid of the taste of kimchi, this dish a great way to break in! Cooking the kimchi removes much of the raw and earthy taste it contains, giving it a different characteristic altogether. This dish was especially welcomed during the first year of my college career. What makes it even more appealing is the flexible base that kimchi provides; its easy to modify and change this dish to your own preferences! I think that kimchi fried rice is actually a very good demonstration of how asian cooking is very flexible.
For the ingredients the “base” consists of of eggs, spam and kimchi. Some people also like to chop up some onion or stir in some drained canned corn. I like keeping things simple and so a “deluxe version” would consist of me chopping up some green onions and adding those in. Don’t of course, limit yourself to my laziness and feel free to get creative, add in some korean BBQ instead of spam, or try your favorite vegetable with kimchi!
When preparing the rice, I have a routine that I tend to follow: cook the ingredients separately, fry the rice, and combine. I generally beat and panfry the eggs first, without scrambling them too much.I know some people like to crack the egg upon the end of the dish allowing the eggs to coat all the ingredients. I understand that vietnamese cuisine tends to do this but I like having chunks of eggs in my fried rice. After returning the eggs to the bowl (the residual heat actually cooks the rest of the eggs, don’t worry you’ll be cooking this in a bit) I add a tad bit of oil the the pan and crisp up some spam.
Some people have a love hate relationship with spam. I personally love the salty meaty taste of spam while others find the idea of canned meat utterly revolting. I would like to point out that spam is perfectly safe to consume, disregarding its sodium content, despite the image it has of “leftover meat”. Furthermore, the idea of canned meat almost adds a different element to this dish emphasizing its simplicity.If desired, feel free to substitute in any form of protein like chicken, beef, or even some fish! Either way, I like to crisp up my spam until golden brown but you could definitely skip this.
At this point, the deviation between methods occur. Some like to cook the kimchi and then add the rice in. Personally, I fry the rice first and just add the kimchi in later. My secret to successful and delicious fried rice is starting out with dry, day old rice that has been sitting in the refrigerator overnight. Then I heat up some oil on high and fry the rice stirring constantly. Doing so allows for the rice to cook without it becoming mushy or getting burnt.
After the rice has thoroughly heated up, I then add the kimchi and its juices. I also stir in the eggs and spam and allow everything to heat up until its pipping hot. Make sure to taste it at this point because I usually have to add a dash of salt. Right before serving I drizzle on a small amount of sesame oil for extra flavor.
I first encountered this dish when I was about 9. Ten years later, I still remember my cousin firmly pressing the completed rice into a bowl and inverting it onto a plate so it became a perfect dome. He was the one who introduced me to this dish and to this day, I occasionally invert a bowl of fried rice myself just to reminisce the days when we cooked together.
With that being said, here is the full recipe to Kimchi Fried Rice! Please remember that you can alternate the recipe to your liking adding more or less of any ingredient as you wish.
Kimchi Fried Rice
Serves: 2 people
3 cups (1 large bowl) of cooked rice
1/2 can of Classic Spam (340 g container)
1 – 2 cups Kimchi (more if it is ripe kimchi)
1/4 cup kimchi juice
- Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil to a heating frying pan on medium high heat. Beat eggs and add a big pinch of salt, about 1 tsp. Pour the eggs into the heated pan and wait until a thin layer forms at the bottom; when this happens, stir to so that the layer of egg is in the center of the pan and repeat. After the eggs are completely cooked, remove and return to original bowl.
- Add 2 tsp of vegetable oil and heat on medium high heat. In the meanwhile, dice spam into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes. Cook until crispy and golden brown stirring occasionally. Return to a dish lined with paper towels to drain.
- Add 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil on high heat. Fry the rice stirring constantly. When the rice is slightly off white, add the kimchi and juices. Cook for a minute or two until the kimchi is warmed.
- Return eggs and spam to the pan and continue frying until everything is heated. Season with salt to taste.
- Drizzle 1 to 2 tsp of sesame oil and stir right before serving.