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They say a Korean doesn’t travel anywhere without her kimchi. When I was younger (and wanting to be as “American” as possible), my parents’ basement kimchi fridge was a source of unimaginable shame. At a 7th-grade get-together, some of the boys in my class opened the fridge while I went to the kitchen for more snacks. When I came back downstairs, they were all holding their noses and screaming, “Maggie, it smells like something died in there!” Cue utter middle-school embarrassment.
Now a kimchi fridge is a #kitchengoal for my next house; every white person I know makes homemade kimchi; and if I’m not exactly traveling with a jar of kimchi, I make sure that wherever I am, I have access to some.
Case in point: I’m in the French countryside for the summer. My village has 60 inhabitants, all French. I don’t think any of them have even heard of, much less tried, kimchi. But I made sure to visit the Korean Mart in Paris and stock up on kimchi, gochujang and seaweed. My kids tore through 60 packs of seaweed in two weeks, but thanks to a visiting friend who made another K-Mart trip for me, I’ve got plenty of kimchi.
This kimchi fried rice recipe is super-versatile, quick and easy (notice a theme for the kind of meals we like to make at Qeep Up?) It’s a great way to use leftover veggies and rice* and old kimchi. You can make it veggie/vegan or not. I can make this with my eyes closed in 15 minutes so it’s a perfect lunch, especially when you’ve run out of ideas and have hungry kids.
* I always make extra rice so I have some leftover for this recipe and others. Day-old rice works better than fresh here.
Kitchen Sink Kimchi Fried Rice
- 1 Tbs cooking oil of your preference
- 1/4 cup lardons or bacon (optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cups of assorted, chopped veggies (diced carrots, zucchini, bell pepper, frozen peas, shredded Brussel sprouts, bok choy, snap peas, literally whatever veggies you like and have in your fridge)
- 1/2-1 cup kimchi, sliced (reserve 2 Tbs kimchi liquid)
- 1 cup fried tofu cubes (optional)
- 2 cups day old rice (white or brown)
- 1 Tbs gochujang (spicy pepper paste)
- 2 tsp sesame seed oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 stalk scallion, green and white parts, sliced
Optional garnish: sesame seeds, roasted seaweed, gomashio, extra spicy sauce, a fried egg
- Heat cooking oil over medium-high heat. Add the lardons or bacon until cooked but not yet crisp. If not using meat, go directly to Step 2.
- Add garlic and onions. Saute for a few minutes until lightly browned.
- Add all the veggies. Sauté until veggies are cooked through, but not mushy. Q-Tip: Harder veggies like carrots should go in first so they have more time to cook.
- Add sliced kimchi. Fry for a few minutes.
- Add rice and mix it all together with the veggies. Add tofu cubes, if using.
- Add the reserved kimchi juice. For more spice, add gochujang. (I skip this for my kids because it’s too spicy for them.)
- Add soy sauce and drizzle sesame oil. Keep sautéing until rice is evenly covered with spice and sauce.
- Serve with sliced scallions and optional garnishes.