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Posted on Mar 5, 2008 in Bento, For Kids, Lactose Free, Meat, Recipe, Rice | 28 comments

Kimchi fried rice lunch & recipe

Kimchi fried rice lunch & recipe


Fried rice is standard “refrigerator velcro” dinner in my house, using up all sorts of leftover meats and vegetables that might otherwise be forgotten and go bad. A number of readers have asked for my recipe for kimchi fried rice, so last week I got out the scale and measuring cups and took notes on what I put into my free-form fried rice. When I make rice, I always make extra to either freeze for bento lunches or refrigerate for fried rice. Feel free to stray from the master recipe below and use whatever you have on hand; this is an easy way to get lots of vegetables into your family (not quite stealthily enough for seriously picky eaters, but deliciously at any rate).

Kimchi fried rice bento lunch for preschooler

Contents of preschooler lunch: Tangerine, blueberries, cheese cubes and kimchi fried rice with zucchini, carrots, carnitas, and cocktail sausages leftover from testing for my “octodog” (hot dog octopus) tutorial. Recipe for the fried rice follows.

Morning prep time: 5 minutes, using leftover fried rice. In the morning I warmed the rice in the microwave to restore texture, and peeled the tangerine. Very fast. (Read on for lunch details and the fried rice recipe.)

Packing: Because fried rice is loose and can move around in a lunch container, I used a subdivided 350ml box from a Lock & Lock lunch set, and included a spoon in Bug’s lunch bag for easy eating. The subdividers come all the way up to the lid, keeping the rice in place. For visual balance, I made the center compartment the focus with colorful fruit, and put the rice on either side. Cheese cubes act as gap fillers.

Verdict: Pretty good. Bug ate all of the fried rice, cheese cubes and some of the blueberries at preschool. He ate the rest as a snack at the playground afterwards.

Kimchi fried rice

Biggie’s Kimchi Fried Rice (Bokumbop)

(makes 6 servings)

Kimchi spam fried rice for toddler

  • 2/3 cup pork or beef, chopped into bite-sized pieces. I used a mixture of leftover carnitas braised pork and cocktail sausages here — I like the combination of pork and kimchi. This is also delicious with bacon (shown here), and I’ve even been known to make it with Spam (shown here and at right) or fish cakes.
  • 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • 1 large carrot, diced (about 4 oz or 120g)
  • 1/2 onion, diced (about 5 oz or 140g)
  • 1 large zucchini, diced (about 4 oz or 110g). I often use chopped bell peppers instead of zucchini.
  • 5.5 oz mushrooms (160g), sliced. I used enoki mushrooms here, cut into one-inch lengths.
  • 2/3 cup kimchi (about 4.5 oz or 125g) or more, sliced. I like to use common cabbage kimchi for this, but I’ve also used daikon cube kimchi (ggakdugi, sliced) to good effect.
  • 5.5 cups leftover cooked white or brown rice (about 750g). You’ll get good results from using rice that you’ve refrigerated, breaking apart large clumps of rice beforehand. (I store my refrigerated rice in a gallon freezer bag, making it easy to break up with my hands by squeezing the bag. Rice of any length grain is fine for this — it doesn’t have to be the sticky short-grain rice you use for onigiri rice balls.)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 green onions (scallions), sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup stock (chicken stock, dashi bonito stock, vegetable stock — choose your favorite. I used instant hon dashi granules dissolved in water, but I’ve also got a freezer bag filled with homemade chicken stock frozen in ice cube trays for just this sort of thing.)
  • 1 Tb or more hot pepper paste (kochujang or chogochujang), to taste
  • 1.5 Tb soy sauce
  • ground toasted sesame seeds to taste (see Note)
  • sesame oil (to taste)
  1. If you’re using a meat that needs cooking (like chopped bacon, raw pork/beef, or Spam), heat a wok or large frying pan over medium heat and cook the meat until done. Use a little oil and season raw pork/beef with salt and pepper for a flavor boost; bacon and Spam don’t need extra oil or spices. Remove the meat to a separate dish and pour off any rendered fat.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the stock, hot pepper paste and soy sauce, and set aside. If you want a sour element to your fried rice, add a tablespoon of the kimchi pickling liquid to the bowl.
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Add the hard vegetables (carrot and onion) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add any soft vegetables like the zucchini and mushrooms, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the kimchi and cooked meat to the pan, and stir to combine. Add the stock, hot pepper paste and soy sauce mixture, and heat until simmering to season all of the vegetables and meat.
  5. Add the cold rice to the meat and vegetables in the pan, and stir well to combine. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the rice is warm.
  6. At this point, you can either remove the rice to a separate dish while you cook the egg and green onions, or just push the rice over to one side of the pan to make room for scrambling the egg. To save time, I do the latter.
  7. Pour the beaten eggs and half of the green onions into the empty portion of the pan and stir until almost thoroughly scrambled. Stir into the fried rice, which will now have a little crust developing on the bottom (mmm, o-koge!)
  8. Remove from heat, and stir in the remaining green onions, ground sesame seeds, and a drizzle of sesame oil for fragrance. Taste it and see what you think. If it needs a little more flavor, add salt and pepper, a bit of soy sauce, or more kochujang. Serve hot.Kimchi fried rice lunch for toddler

Variations: There’s nothing particularly sacred about this combination of vegetables. Onions, kimchi, egg and green onions are probably the bare bones, but look at this dish as a willing recipient of stray vegetables, particularly bell pepper. If you’re feeling energetic, you can wrap it inside a thin layer of egg crepe for a little “omu-rice” shown at right with mini apple bunnies).

Note: I keep a cheap sesame grinder filled with toasted sesame seeds in my cupboard; you can either buy pre-roasted sesame seeds cheaply in Korean markets or toast your own in a sesame seed roaster or in a frying pan over low heat, covered with a splatter screen (keep moving the pan around to keep them from burning). Grinding the toasted sesame seed releases their flavor; you can also grind these manually in a mortar and pestle.


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  1. You can also rip or use cut up pieces of nori or gim. Just add it in after you take it off the heat and stir it about. I forgot what’s it called when you do this. Although that would probably not be good for bento.

    I personally like spam in my kimchi fried rice. This is a good thing to use kimchi that is starting to go sour. This and chigae are staples when the kimchi jar gets low.

  2. @1 from Kim: I bet you could pack the cut-up nori (kizami-nori?) separately for a bento lunch, and just stir it in right before you eat. Then you’d still have the fresh nori taste/texture.

    Mmmm, sour kimchi in fried rice and soups. I also like sour, aging kimchi in ramen soup — it’s a nice counterpoint.

  3. I adore cooking toss in whatever you have in the fridge. Not to mention that it is great food to eat in front of the tv ;). The thing about being single is eating as you please, which is sometimes a plus and at others a negative. I got furikake from a very nice person in Japan, the veggie furikake has star shapes and carrot shapes ;). I can’t help but smile when I see what but it spurred extra japanese cooking with rice.

  4. Fried rice is great! As I say, “Steamed rice today, fried rice tomorrow!”

    I will give this kimchi fried rice a try as soon as I get a hold of some kimchi.

    You also give pyttipanna a try. It’s the Swedish way of getting rid of left overs. Instead of using rice, you used diced potatoes and serve it with a fried egg and some pickled beets (optional).

  5. @4, Wendy, that’s where I live (Sweden), any wonder why I love stuff all throw together and cooked from just about anywhere; korean, swedish, japanese, anywhere from within Europe, whatever actually ;)

  6. Biggie,
    Do you have any tips for peeling oranges? Yours always come out so beautiful! Mine end up with missing chunks of orange and too much pith. Is there a trick that I’m missing?

  7. This is how I get my boyfriend to eat vegetables too :3 I’ll have to add a little kimichi in next time I make fried rice (I usually just add curry since I love spicy food)

  8. i think i’ve read in earlier entry that Bug liked the whole ketchup and rice combo?
    one of the thing i love love LOVE doing is making kimchi fried rice with ketchup.. sounds odd? it’s really good though! the sweetness of the ketchup goes extremely well with the spiciness of the kimchi. although.. it tends to make the rice a little.. eh, moist for the lack of better words :)

  9. @3 & 5 from Jessika: Sounds like your cooking is like mine! All kinds of cuisines, making good use of leftovers. Yay!

  10. @4 from Wendy: Pyttipanna sounds really interesting, I’ll have to try it out. Thanks for the tip! I recently found a cool Russian market near my son’s preschool that has all kinds of pickled vegetables (including beets); I’ve been meaning to learn more about Russian food and start shopping there. Maybe I’ll start with their beets (or just pickle the ones I have in my fridge right now).

  11. @6 from Sile: If you’re having trouble with peeling oranges, maybe try different kinds of tangerines with loose skin? Satsuma mandarins almost peel themselves, and I then just use my fingernails to pick off the white stringy bits that remain on the flesh.

  12. @7 from Cerri: Mmm, curry fried rice? Sounds like a winner!

  13. @8 from tk: I could see ketchup adding an interesting nuance to kimchi fried rice. Maybe like the tomato in sofrito that goes into Puerto Rican yellow rice… The other week I wanted to make this (the yellow rice), but I only had recaito as we’d run out of tomato-based sofrito. I added a frozen ice cube of tomato sauce to the recaito and it came out very similar.

  14. The funniest thing happened at lunch today. I went down to hang out with “the gals” in lunch, instead of being antisocial at my desk, reading and eating. Well, one of the girls had this cool device with her that peels oranges. It was insanely cool and no bigger than a crocheting needle. How funny that she should have that on the day I ask about peeling oranges! :D
    I gotta go find one! :D

  15. @biggie, with the pyttipanna the beets aren’t an option to leave out, at least not when having it initially :).
    Neither is the egg.
    Traditionall a pyttipanna i leftover meat, usually beef, cooked potatoes and onions, all diced the same sice and then fried. Since the name basically means “small-things-in-a-pan” you can add a wide range of whatever you have in the fridge just as long as they are cut the same size and become done at about the same time. Otherwise, pre-cook. I used to have this convenient food, a ready-made frozen chicken pyttipanna. Then they changed the recipe. New and improved. Well YEAH. Who decides what is new and improved anyway?
    If you use bacon and/or sausage left overs watch the fat content. I’ve stopped with the bacon. Too greasy for me. Chicken and left over meats makes it great, I don’t mix in fish along with meat though.

  16. @14, Sile.
    This little funny tool from Koziol is perfect for orange peeling.

  17. We’re having veg fried rice for dinner tonight but yours looks so much better…lol. I must have a pretty generic recipe-I look forward to trying this one out with some tofu or tempeh for ds and I! Thanks for posting it. :)

  18. Yum! In Korea, Spam is the meat you’ll most commonly find in Kimchi bokkumbap when you get it at a lunch shop. It’s often served with a fried egg on top, too. When you break the egg yolk and mix it in with the rice, it’s delicious.

  19. Thank you so much for posting the recipe Biggie! I really appreciate it and can’t wait to try it. :o)

  20. @17 from kylo: Yes, absolutely feel free to substitute tofu or tempeh for the meat to make it vegtarian. The flavor of the kimchi can stand up to pretty much anything you throw at it.

  21. @18 from nakji: Hmm, I often do the fried egg thing with bibimbap, but not fried rice — I’ll have to try that out! Thanks for the tip.

  22. @19 from e: You were one of the people who had asked for the recipe, right? Glad to oblige, sorry it took this long.

  23. hi
    i just had one query, can we freeze plain cooked rice and how do you freeze it?
    I love this type of fried rice where we can use all leftovers so pls help.
    In India we are not used to freezing so there is a confusion as to what freezes well and what can be refrigerated.

  24. @23 from mahek: Yes, you can absolutely freeze plain cooked rice! I’ve got links about freezing rice here that might help you:

    The trick is to freeze the fresh, warm rice soon after it finishes cooking, while it’s still moist (i.e. don’t let it sit in the rice cooker or pot for hours before packaging it up for freezing).

  25. Yes, I was one of your avid readers asking for this recipe. Thanks again!!

  26. Mm, great recipe! I was looking at a fridge full of a hodgepodge of food (bulgogi, a zucchini, some eggs, and leftover rice) and the kimchi bokkumbap recipe was helpful in figuring out how to pull everything together for bokkumbap. I’ll have to try it properly with kimchi and pork next time!

  27. Great recipe! I also like kimchi tuna for a quick recipe. I put a little bit of oil in a fying pan and add the kimchi. While cooking it I cut it into smaller pieces with scissors. After frying it for a few minutes I add some tuna (I prefer the ones in oil), I get rid of some of the oil and then mix everything. The Kimchi is so flavorful that you don’t need to add anything else. Leftovers are excellent!

  28. I tried the this and it came out quite well, thank you for the recipe, the kids loved them in the bento boxes that we purchased, I took some photos and looking forward to trying this again.