I don't think I'll ever get tired of one-bowl meals. Give me a bowl, a spoon, and a comforting mix of grains, vegetables, and protein and I'm set. Kimchi fried rice satisfies all those requirements — and even includes the underappreciated "pickle" food group — but I always like to add a couple handfuls of shredded greens to the mix for a boost of color and nutrition. Funky, a little spicy, and studded with soft bits of scrambled egg and pops of bright kimchi, it's a quick one-bowl lunch or dinner I could eat anytime.
Kimchi fried rice makes the most of ingredients that don't look terribly promising on their own. Kimchi that is too old and funky to eat straight from the jar is perfectly tasty when cooked, and leftover rice is actually better than freshly made when making fried rice, thanks to its drier, firmer texture. Add a few pantry staples, a couple eggs, and the chopped green vegetable of your choice and dinner is on the table in under 30 minutes.
Of course, the variations on kimchi fried rice are endless and deeply personal. Some people swear by the addition of bacon, while others always fry their eggs and serve them on top of the rice; all of these are good. My personal version reflects my love of leafy green vegetables and ongoing quest to add them to whatever dish will have them. It's also not a terribly spicy rendition, so feel free to add more gochujang if you're craving a rice that brings on the heat.
And while a well-seasoned wok will make cooking easier, any heavy-bottomed skillet will work. The rice might stick a little, but resist the urge to use a nonstick pan, which can't handle the high heat of stir-frying. (A large, well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a better choice.)
Kimchi Fried Rice with Extra Greens
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup Napa cabbage kimchi, drained and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon gochujang
2 cups cold cooked white or brown rice
2 cups thinly sliced tender greens, such as baby bok choy, spinach, or Swiss chard
4 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1 to 2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon Asian toasted sesame oil
Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the kimchi and gochujang and stir-fry until hot and fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the rice and stir-fry until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the greens, scallions, and 1 teaspoon of the tamari or soy sauce, and stir-fry until greens are wilted. Taste and add more tamari or salt if needed.
Push the rice over to one half of the pan and pour the egg in the other half. Stir and scramble the egg into soft curds with a rubber spatula, then mix into the rice. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve immediately.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Make ahead: This dish is best made with day-old rice that has been refrigerated.
- Variations: Instead of vegetable oil, cook 1 or 2 pieces of bacon in the pan first, then use the bacon fat for stir-frying. Garnish the finished fried rice with the crumbled, cooked bacon. Instead of scrambling the eggs, poach or fry and serve on top of the rice instead. If you want to skip the sesame oil, sprinkle with crumbled, toasted nori and sesame seeds at the end instead.