Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) – Recipe

Kimchi Fried Rice
Kimchi fried rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)

I’ve gone completely mad for kimchi. I find the heat, crunch and pickled and slightly fermented flavor addictive. Kimchi fried rice is my latest obsession.

Fried rice serves three beautiful purposes at once: it is a way to use up leftover rice and vegetables, it offers a change of pace from plain rice, and it is so quick to make that it is perfect for a late-night supper or dinner for one.

A little patience is rewarded though: the longer you can let it cook, the more delicious crispy-crusted rice you’ll have. You must use rice that has cooled overnight or at least for a couple of hours in the refrigerator, otherwise you’ll have mush.

The classic Korean version of fried rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) is a bit different from Chinese fried rice that you may be familiar with. It doesn’t generally contain scrambled egg, but there can be a fried egg with a soft yolk on top. Just like with bibimbap, the diner breaks the egg and uses the yolk to enrich the rice.

Koreans will generally use up kimchi that is starting to be overripe to make kimchi fried rice, but if you don’t happen to have that on hand, normal jarred kimchi will be just fine. Squeeze out most of the liquid so it doesn’t make the rice soggy, and chop it into thin strips.

If you are vegetarian, be sure to look at the ingredients to find a type of kimchi that doesn’t contain seafood. There is a vast variety of kimchis, made from different types of cabbage and other vegetables, and at a huge range of heat levels from mild to post-apocalyptic, so if the first one you try doesn’t suit, don’t give up! Personally I’m addicted to the stuff.

Besides the kimchi, you can add modest amount of other finely cut vegetables or tofu. If they are raw, cook them at step 2 before adding the rice. If they are already cooked, you can just toss them in at the same time as the kimchi.

Vegetarian Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap)
For vegan, double check the kimchi and omit the egg
For gluten-free, double-check the kimchi
Serves 2 as a one dish meal or 3 as a side dish

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 green onions cut into 1″ lengths + 1 more thinly sliced
  • optional: 3/4 cup vegetables or tofu cut into very small pieces (already cooked is ok too)
  • 3 cups cooked and refrigerated rice (day old is best)
  • 3/4 cup drained and chopped kimchi (squeeze out most of the moisture)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • optional: chili paste, if your kimchi isn’t spicy enough (kochujang paste would be ideal)
  • optional: 1 fried egg per person (sunny side up, runny yolks)
  1. Pre-heat your largest cast-iron skillet or wok over maximum heat. Add the oil, and immediately follow that with the garlic and green onions. Stir-fry for 20 seconds.
  2. If using optional raw vegetables or tofu, add and stir-fry until cooked through (vegetables) or lightly browned (tofu).
  3. Add the rice and toss to coat with the oil. Continue to fry over high heat, tossing only occasionally and mostly letting the rice stay in contact with the pan so that it has time to brown. Keep this up as long as you can stand it, because the more brown crispy bits you develop, the more delicious it will be. You want to break the rice up somewhat but also leave some smallish clumps.
  4. Add the kimchi, sesame oil, salt and optional chili paste and stir-fry for one more minute. (If using previously cooked vegetables, add them now too).
  5. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining green onion and the fried egg if you are using it.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 in Favorites, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

48 Responses to “Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeumbap) – Recipe”

  1. January 3, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Thank you for this recipe, I am going to try it out tomorrow. I am also addicted to kimchi, but until very recently I couldn’t buy it in the UK so I had to make my own. Now I have a source it makes life a lot easier!

  2. January 3, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    Have you tried this brand? Best kimchi ever!

    link to midori-farm.com

  3. Michael Natkin
    January 3, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Nope, haven't seen that brand but I've had a couple of others from small Northwest producers that have been excellent, so I'm not surprised. I'll keep my eye out for it.

  4. Kathy
    January 3, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Michael — Would you share the NW producers you like? Thanks!

  5. Michael Natkin
    January 3, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I love Firefly Kitchens (link to fireflykitchens.com), and there was another one I had on Salt Spring Island but I don't remember the name. I did *not* care for Island Spring, unfortunately.

  6. Todd Kopriva
    January 3, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    This post reminded me to tell you something:

    Cheeky Cafe’s macaroni and cheese with kim chee is a stroke of genius.

  7. Michael Natkin
    January 3, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Ooh, I saw that mentioned in a review, sounds killer! Haven't been in there yet, do you like other stuff as well?

  8. January 3, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Love love this dish! One of my favorites to use especially older kimchi. Unfortunately I’ve been depriving myself of kimchi as motivation to make it myself (which I’ve done several times but have been too busy to). Happy New Year, Michael!

  9. January 3, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    I have recently become insanely addicted to kimchee- I couldn’t figure out why until I checked the ingredients- the brand I’ve been buying is full of MSG! Delicious, tongue tingling MSG. Time to switch it up! Just found out that Firefly sells at Ballard FM (not sure how I missed that yesterday…) Thanks for the recommendation!

  10. January 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    I love Kimchi, but here in New Zealand they only have it flavoured with fish (sauce, or prawns or anchovies) :-(

  11. Michael Natkin
    January 3, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    That's frustrating! You can make your own, here is a good article:

    link to davidlebovitz.com

  12. January 4, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Kimchi is one of my most favorite foods of all time, and my 7 year old can’t get enough of it! (My kids are adopted from Korea.) I have put kimchi in fried rice before, but I can’t wait to try your version. I also love putting kimchi in soup with rice and vegetables. Another good way to use up those leftovers in the fridge.

    Really enjoy your blog, but haven’t commented before. Thanks for sharing such yummy recipes!

  13. January 4, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    I have never tried kimchi, thanks for the recipe. I have been wanting to try it since I read the book Honolulu (about Koreans in Hawaii) recently and kimchi was served at just about every meal.

  14. Samantha
    January 4, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Mmmm, such belly warming food! I love the use of kimchi in recipes as a twist on kimchi as a condiment. Kimchi mandoo and kimchi pancakes are super tasty too!

    I have found a korean brand of vegetarian kimchi that I like – it’s “poggi kimchi” or whole cabbage kimchi. Poggi kimchi is stuffed with all the spices, and normally doesn’t use anchovie. It is sold at large korean grocery stores.

  15. January 4, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Love kimchi fried rice! Kimchi stew is also a favorite especially when it’s cold out.

  16. January 4, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Nice work. I love dishes with poached or runny eggs. The yolk mixes real well with rice. Yum.

  17. January 4, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    I love kimchi fried rice. I usually don’t even need a recipe – just sautee kimchi in sesame oil, then add rice, add some kimchi juice, throw in some spam and eggs. =)

    My mom makes my kimchi for me so I’m very lucky!

    Traditionally, all kimchi contains shrimp or fish sauce so I say vegans need to be aware!

  18. Michael Natkin
    January 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    You are lucky to have a Mom make it for you! I used to think that as well (that traditionally all kimchi has shrimp or fish sauce), but it turns out that that is an overly narrow view. In Korea, there are literally hundreds of varieties, and while many of them aren't vegan, there are several that are. So it is just a matter of finding a good Korean (or general Asian) grocer and looking at all the labels.

  19. January 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Wow! Kimchi has come a long way! Thank you for the clarification! :)

  20. January 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    This is quite a spicy alternative to the plain cabbage I generally use..Am going to try this soon.

    Thanks!

  21. Samantha
    January 5, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    p.s. the brand is “Chongga Jib”

  22. January 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    I used to eat this dish at least once a week [working close to Korea Town has its perks], thanks for posting this so maybe I can try to imitate the goodness on my own!

  23. Jim
    January 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    I just made this with some tofu and a bit of green peppers. Absolutely amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  24. Michael Natkin
    January 6, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Awesome, baby! Thanks for letting me know.

  25. January 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    My husband is going to go crazy (in a good way)when I make this! He is Japanese, but lived in Korea for a few years. He loves Kimchi! We eat all organic, so I hope I can find organic Kimchi. I live in the south, so it could be difficult! Thanks so much!

  26. Kathy
    January 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Found the Firefly kimchi at the University Farmers Market. Added celery, bok choy, criminis and the other ingredients in your recipe. Fabulous!

  27. Michael Natkin
    January 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    Good deal! Aren't Firefly folks nice, too?

  28. January 12, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    This looks so good. I just love kimchi so much!

  29. January 17, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    This looks like a great new way to enjoy fried rice…yum. I love kimchi, and one of my favorites is kimchi sushi.

  30. John
    January 17, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Hey, this was great. Everyone loved it, and it was pretty simple (although a bit of a messy-kitchen kind of meal: there was a fair amount of oil-splatter during the cooking, as expected). I made two batches, but with only 1c of kimchi between them, since some of my family is spicy-averse. I shouldn’t have worried — a full 3/4 c in each batch would have been OK. Perhaps the kimchee I bought was a little mild. My only other thought is that I might choose to double the green onions, but that’s just because I really like those. I think this is the kind of recipe where exact amounts aren’t critical.

    Hint for those in the frozen north (or northeast): No old rice in the fridge? You can cook some rice in your steamer, or microwave, or whatever, spread it 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick on a platter, and shove it outside in clear, dry, 10-degree weather and have ‘day old cold rice’ about 20 minutes later. I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad. :(

  31. Michael Natkin
    January 17, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    Hah! Great tip on how to stale your rice quickly in the right conditions :)

  32. January 31, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    Michael, great site. This dish was awesome. I made a few minor changes and posted it on my blog with a link to your page. Check it out when you get a chance, hope I did your dish justice, Ken

  33. January 31, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    BTW, forgot to tell you that fried egg was the bomb. I never would have expected that to add so much to the dish. I love eggs but always thought that fried egg on top thing was kind of strange until now, Ken

  34. March 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    I snipped up some nori sheets and added it to the fried rice. Delicious.

  35. Michael Natkin
    March 13, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Nice call on the nori sheets, very appropriate! 

  36. August 20, 2011 at 8:23 pm #

    Nom. Nom. Nom.

  37. jessica
    October 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    I’m sorry, but that brand kimchi is not legit kimchi. Haha. It’s too Americanized

  38. November 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Tastes just like Seoul! Thanks for the recipe!

  39. June 23, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    Wow!! This is one of the best things I have tasted in a long time. Spicy, fragrant, and great fun to make. Many thanks for this simplest yet tastiest of recipes. My most recent batch of it can be seen at link to currylime.com.

  40. July 14, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    Never tried a dish with runny eggs but I am down to try this recipe. I shared your recipe on http://grubodex.com

  41. dechenchoden
    September 14, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    thank you for the recipe

  42. Jane Shmoe
    October 7, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    I always fry kimchi first so that it has time to cook through. When cooked, kimchi (especially sour one) acquires different layers of flavor. Also kimchibokkuembap is best with slightly undercook rice. If your rice is wet, it tends to get mushy in this dish. If you have sour kimchi in your frig and don’t know what to do, try kimchi soup too. My all time favorite hearty, warming, satisfying cold weather meal! Little bit of dried anchovies (2-3 large ones) and two cups of kimchi with its juice and water is all you need. For protein, I add tofu or a can of tuna (in olive oil, not water). Boil it first and simmer for about 10-15 minutes in low heat. Voila, delish!

  43. mim
    January 30, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    This was really good and really easy, even for a novice cook; thanks!

    Next time I need to look into finding local kimchi as the one I used wasn’t that flavorful and I compensated with plenty of Sriacha and chili flakes.

  44. February 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    This looks so yummy! What kind of rice did you use for this dish? Do you wash your rice before steaming it?

    • February 6, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

      I generally use a sushi-type rice for this kind of thing, like Kokuho Rose for example. I’ll do a couple of quick rinses, nothing too serious.

  45. April 10, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Love Kimchi Fried Rice, especially with a fried egg on top! Sometimes, I’ll add a little bit of miso to the stir fry just to give it a deeper umami flavor. Or, I’ll whisk some egg into the kimchi juice and add that in, giving the rice a velvety texture

  46. September 19, 2013 at 4:44 am #

    I’ll tried this recipe. This is soooo gooood!

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