Kimchi Fried Rice with Perilla
This easy kimchi fried rice with perilla is a delicious way to use up any leftover rice or old kimchi in your fridge. The perilla in this unique recipe adds complexity with its herby and anise-like flavor notes. Top the rice with a rich and runny sunny-side up egg for a filling and flavorful weeknight meal.
Kimchi fried rice (kimchi bokkeumbap, 김치 볶음밥) is quick and easy to make with items that are already in your fridge. It is perfect to make on a busy weeknight when you’re short on time but still craving some flavor-packed comfort food.
Old White Rice & Aged Kimchi
I like to use some old, steamed white rice and aged kimchi for this dish. Leftover white rice loses some of its moisture when it is stored in the fridge. This dry leftover white rice will soak up more of the kimchi sauce without getting soggy and result in a more flavorful fried rice dish.
If you would like to use freshly steamed rice, try using a little less water to steam the rice. It will make the rice a bit drier. You should also let the freshly steamed rice dry out some more by letting it cool down uncovered at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.
I use aged kimchi in this dish because it has more depth of flavor and is also a bit tangy. If the kimchi is more fermented, you’ll also have more kimchi brine and juices to use for your fried rice. Note: It takes about 2-3 weeks for fresh store-bought kimchi to ferment in the fridge. Some other recipes that use aged kimchi are kimchi jeon and kimchi jjigae.
Ham or Spam
I generally like to cook with clean ingredients. However, there are times when I make the rare exception to indulge. I’ll be honest… I like to use spam in my kimchi fried rice. While spam does not have much nutritional value (it’s salty, fatty, and highly processed), it is really delicious to eat with some kimchi.
If you want to be a bit healthier, you could use uncured ham. Unlike cured ham, uncured ham undergoes a more natural curing process and is not preserved with potentially harmful nitrates. Some kimchi fried rice recipes use bacon. However, I find the smoky bacon flavor to be a bit too overpowering. When using spam or ham, there’s a better balance of kimchi and pork flavors.
I also like to make this dish with leftover ham from Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday dinners.
My mom always adds sliced perilla leaves whenever she cooks this dish for the family. And so naturally my preference is to add perilla leaves to my kimchi fried rice. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you probably already noticed how much I love cooking with perilla leaves and perilla seed oil (e.g. dakgalbi, mille feuille nabe, bulgogi).
The perilla adds an herby and anise-like dimension of flavor to this savory dish. After you try it once with perilla leaves, you might find regular kimchi fried rice to be a bit flat and maybe too homogeneously savory. The perilla leaves definitely add complexity and depth of flavor.
Other Kimchi Fried Rice Additions
I also really like to add some roasted dried seaweed (geem, 김) to my kimchi fried rice for its roasted and subtle umami flavor.
If you would like to add vegetables to this dish, you could add chopped onions, julienned carrots, and peas. I decided to keep the ingredients in this recipe a bit more authentic.
The kimchi fried rice can be topped with an optional sunny-side up egg. The runny yolk adds richness and cuts some of the heat and saltiness from the kimchi and ham. It is also great for extra protein.
Other Recipes with Kimchi:
Mise en place
If you make this Kimchi Fried Rice, I would love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to leave a comment and/or recipe rating at the bottom of this page. And if you have a photo of your food, be sure to tag me on Instagram!
Kimchi Fried Rice with Perilla
- ½ cup uncured ham or spam, cubed
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1½ cup old, steamed white rice
- 2 tbsp kimchi juice
- ½ tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 cup kimchi, chopped
- ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 3-4 mushrooms)
- 3-4 tbsp roasted dried seaweed, shredded
- 3-5 perilla leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 egg, sunny-side up (see notes, optional)
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional garnish)
- Add the cubed ham or spam to a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Saute for about 5 minutes or until all sides are lightly crisp and browned. Push the ham to one side of the pan.
- Add the sesame oil to the skillet, and add the old rice.
- Break the rice apart and mix it in with the sesame oil.
- Mix the kimchi juice, soy sauce, and coconut sugar into the rice.
- Push the rice to the side. Add the shiitake mushrooms and kimchi and sauté them together for a 3 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and kimchi is slightly charred.
- Mix the ham, rice, kimchi and mushrooms together.
- Stir in some of the shredded roasted seaweed and perilla leaves. (Use the remaining seaweed and perilla for garnish at the end.)
- Add some of the fried rice to a bowl. Top with a sunny-side up egg and garnish with sesame seeds, crushed roasted seaweed, and shredded perilla.
- Serve immediately.
- Heat a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the egg and let it cook for about a minute or until the egg white is mostly cooked through.
- Cover the skillet with a lid for about 1 minute or until the egg white is cooked through.
- Serve immediately.