Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

Kimchi fried rice is one of my favorite Korean comfort foods. Growing up, whenever the kimchi in our refrigerator got too sour, my mom used it to make kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), kimchi bokkeum (sautéed kimchi), and kimchi bokkeum bap (kimchi fried rice). My mom’s kimchi fried rice was simple and delicious. She served it with dongchimi, a refreshing radish water kimchi without any pepper flakes, which tempered the spiciness of the kimchi fried rice. For this recipe, I took my mom’s kimchi fried rice and added bacon, soy sauce, and spicy bean paste for more umami flavor. Sometimes, I even add shiitake mushrooms and soybean sprouts for additional layers of texture, but I didn’t here.

When preparing to make kimchi fried rice, be sure to use sour kimchi, as using freshly-made kimchi will not produce the same deep, umami-packed flavor. To achieve this sourness, buy kimchi at you local Korean grocery store, open it up to break the seal, then close the cap and let it sit in your refrigerator until the kimchi starts to get a little soft, which should be in about 1 to 2 weeks. Essentially you are allowing the kimchi to become a little overfermented.

This recipe isn’t too spicy, but you can increase the heat with Korean pepper flakes or sliced red jalapeños if you like. If you’re a fan of kimchi, you’ll love this dish. Enjoy!

Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

3 slices of thick bacon (preferably nitrate-free), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup of chopped onion
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil or other neutral oil
1 tablespoon of roasted sesame oil
1 cup of sour kimchi, roughly chopped
1/3 cup of kimchi juice
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
4 cups of short-grain rice, cooked but firm
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of spicy Korean bean paste, optional
Fresh ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
4 eggs, cooked sunny side up (optional)

1. Cook the bacon on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes in a wok or cast iron pan. You want the bacon to be brown but not crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set-aside.

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2. Add the chopped onions to the wok. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until translucent (about 3 minutes).

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3. Add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil to the onions.

4. Add all the chopped kimchi and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly.

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Add the reserved kimchi juice, sugar, rice, soy sauce, and spicy bean paste. Cook for 2 more minutes.

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5. Fold the rice in to the kimchi mixture and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked bacon. Taste for seasoning. Add a few turns of black pepper.

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6. Add the sliced green onion and toasted sesame seeds.

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7. Divide the rice among 4 bowls. Top with sunny side up egg and serve.

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