The next time you're in the mood to make some classic Korean comfort food, don't forget about kimchi fried rice. It's a simple, delicious dish you can make with kimchi, rice, and a few other flavoring ingredients from your favorite Asian grocery store. When you combine the ingredients with finesse as you make this quick dish, you'll have a flavorful batch the entire family will love. It's an ideal option during busy times when you need a high-flavor but low-effort entrée that is a comforting meal to enjoy at home. It's a perfect way to use up extra rice and overripe kimchi you might have as leftovers.
The mature kimchi is ideal for this dish, thanks to its juices produced by the fermentation of natural sugar into lactic acid. It gives the kimchi a sour flavor that is rich and enjoyable. If you want to make a vegan version, skip the egg on top at the end. But keep an eye out for the kimchi itself, which can sometimes contain brine shrimp or fish sauce. But the good news is that by reading the label, it's not hard to find kimchi that is vegan-friendly. On the flip side, you can add meat or tofu to your dish if you prefer. Chopped-up sausage or bacon work well if they are on hand, as does crumbled tofu.
Because the kimchi itself is loaded with flavor, this dish doesn't require a long list of ingredients. When you check some popular recipes, you'll see they're not complicated. The trick to making it exceptional is the technique you use; it matters a lot. To start, squeeze the juice out of the kimchi and measure it. While it might sound like an added step because you re-add the juices later, it helps you have the optimal amount of juice for the dish – not just the amount that coincidentally occurs in the kimchi. Also, the squeezed (drier) kimchi picks up flavors as you caramelize it during frying.
Some celebrated chefs also recommend drizzling sesame oil over the rice before you begin frying it. It gives the rice an excellent nutty flavor and keeps the grains separated, not clumpy. Fry the kimchi before the rice so that some flavor is released into the pan. Once you add the liquid ingredients, continue tossing and frying the rice until it evaporates – then all you have left on the rice is the delicious flavoring. If you let the rice become quite brown, it picks up more flavor and looks even better. At the very end, add an egg, sunny side up, to give a final twist of flavor and make the disk appear complete.