When I was a poor college kid, I used to go to this cluster of Asian restaurants near the Berkeley campus called Asian Ghetto. One of my go-to places here was called Bear Ramen, but I would rarely get ramen here. I would normally get their kimchi fried rice. No I wasn’t crazy. The fried rice was just better in my opinion! It was the ultimate comfort food especially when I had mountains of school work on the horizon. Their fried rice had kimchi stir fried together with rice, spam, and some mixed veggies. Thinking about those moments right now brings back so many wonderful memories. Since then, I’ve never made kimchi fried rice myself, so this recipe is my first attempt at making it from scratch.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Spam – I love having spam in my fried rice. I personally use low sodium spam to reduce the sodium in my dish. If you don’t like spam, I would recommend leaving it out of your dish. You can also use other proteins like chicken, pork, and beef.
- Kimchi – Kimchi gives the dish its red color, and it balances out the rich flavors of the other ingredients.
- Frozen vegetables – I’ve always used frozen vegetables in my fried rice because they’re easy to store and easy to cook with. You can also use fresh vegetables if you want to. I would cook the fresh vegetables longer if you choose to use them.
- Cooked rice – It’s better to use cooked rice because some of the moisture has left the rice, so it doesn’t get too soggy from all the other ingredients you add to the dish (kimchi, soy sauce, sesame oil).
- Dark soy sauce – Adds color and umami flavor to the dish. You can also use regular soy sauce as a substitute and tamari as a gluten free substitute.
- Sesame oil – Adds more flavor to the dish. If you don’t have sesame oil, leave it out.
My search for good Korean food
Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve searched the city for the best Korean food and unfortunately, have come up short. There are a few solid options near downtown like Zzan, 707 Sutter, and Cocobang but nothing compared to the East Bay or Koreatown in LA. One of my goals this year is to learn how to cook more Korean dishes, so I can enjoy them at home.
A simple kimchi fried rice recipe
I really didn’t want to do anything too complicated with this recipe because the beauty in this dish comes from its simplicity. I first stir fried the spam and kimchi together in a teaspoon of oil. After a minute or 2, I add in day old rice, sesame oil, a dash of dark soy sauce, and frozen veggies. I stir it around for another minute or two and it’s done! Finally, sometimes I top it all off with a fried egg which I didn’t do here.
Kimchi Fried Rice
- Using a large pan, saute spam and kimchi for about 1 minute.
- Add in the rice, vegetables, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir and cook for another minute.
- Season with pepper to taste and serve.