Recipe Review

Instant Remix: The Most Delicious Ways to Reimagine Frozen Fried Rice

published Jun 25, 2022
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Fried rice, fried rice porridge, and fried rice kimbap on a white marble counter.
Credit: James Park

My love for frozen fried rice began in college. On a day when I was desperate for rice but stuck with the sad reality of a dorm kitchen that only had a microwave, I decided $3 frozen fried rice from Whole Foods was my best bet. Despite my initial skepticism, I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t have the crispness of fried rice, but it was good enough to satisfy my cravings.

Since then, frozen fried rice has been one of my freezer staples. It’s comforting to know that there’s something delicious I can prepare almost instantly for those days that I feel too lazy to cook.

The good news is that we are living in the Golden Age of frozen fried rice! There are so many fantastic options that go beyond plain veggie fried rice. Shrimp fried rice! Radish kimchi fried rice! Bulgogi fried rice! Explore the freezer section of your local market to see what’s available to you.

And even though frozen fried rice is good on its own, I love to use it as a base for other awesome dishes. Here are two of my favorite simple, easy ways to transform frozen fried rice into something completely different.

Credit: James Park

Remix #1: Frozen Fried Rice Jook

Jook, also known as congee, is a savory rice porridge. It’s soothing, easy on your stomach, super customizable, and perfect for any time of day. And frozen fried rice makes making jook effortless.

There are two reasons why frozen fried rice is an ideal ingredient for making a quick, delicious jook. First, the rice is already cooked, which saves you a ton of time. Second, the rice comes with different vegetables, proteins, and a little seasoning so you don’t have to do as much!

To make frozen fried rice jook:

  • Cook the rice. Combine 1 cup of frozen fried rice and 3 cups of water. (You can also sub in your favorite broth.) Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice becomes porridge-like in texture.
  • Add your toppings. You don’t need to add any toppings, but since jook is a delicious blank canvas, I highly encourage you to have fun with them. Because the consistency of jook is mushy (somewhere between soup and oatmeal) I like to add some crunchy elements. My favorite toppings include youtiao (Chinese fried dough), fried shallots, fried garlic, chile crisp, sesame oil, 6-minute jammy eggs, pork floss, and kimchi.
Credit: James Park

Remix #2: Frozen Fried Rice Kimbap

Kimbap is a popular Korean street food. The rolls are made with rice rolled up in seaweed and are often filled with savory stuff like tuna, spicy squid, seasoned eggs, and more. Kimbap has a special place in my heart because it’s something I used to eat all the time growing up in Korea. I would often pick up a $1 roll for an after-school snack.

Traditionally, kimbap uses warm rice mixed with toasted sesame oil and a little salt. But frozen fried rice makes a quick, easy, flavorful kimbap base.

To make frozen fried rice kimbap:

  • Pick your frozen fried rice. I prefer to use frozen fried rice that doesn’t have big chunks of meat for this so that it’s easier to roll.
  • Heat the frozen fried rice. You can do in a microwave or on the stove. Once you have your frozen fried rice heated up, you’re almost done!
  • Get your fillings ready. You can roll the fried rice in seaweed without any fillings, and it will still be delicious. But I’d suggest adding some fillings to take things up a notch. Some of my favorite fillings are sautéed spinach, sautéed carrots, pickled daikon, braised burdock, imitation crab, and scrambled eggs. Once you have your fillings ready, prepare your seaweed sheets.
  • Roll the filling: Traditionally, you would use one sheet of seaweed to make one roll of kimbap. True confession: I’m terrible at rolling kimbap, so I found a new rolling technique called tornado kimbap. This technique gave me all the confidence I needed to make an impressive-looking kimbap. To do it, connect two sheets of seaweed paper with a bit of water. Top 3/4 of the seaweed with warm fried rice, press the rice down with damp fingers, then add your toppings. Next, roll up the kimbap with a bit of faith and confidence, as if rolling a cigar. You’ll have a beautifully swirled kimbap that’s twice as delicious (and twice as big!) as a regular kimbap!
  • Cut the kimbap. Generously drizzle the top of the kimbap roll with toasted sesame oil. Drizzle toasted sesame oil on both sides of your knife to make clean, perfect cuts. If you don’t like cutting the kimbap into bite-sized pieces, you can hold it and eat it like a burrito. I won’t judge! In fact, when I make kimbap, I make sure that I save one roll to eat this way.