The Temperature Tip For The Best Kimchi Fried Rice

The next time you plan to make some fried rice, why not pack it with more flavor by turning it into kimchi fried rice? This Korean staple is a one-pan meal already. Aside from the pieces of fermented veggies that get cooked with the grains, this dish can be dressed up further by adding mushrooms, tuna flakes, or chopped-up pieces of meat and then topping with a slightly runny fried egg. Kimchi fried rice is also a great accompaniment to fried or grilled meats since its combination of sourness and umami can cut through the meat's fatty richness.  

Kimchi fried rice isn't cooked like you prepare Chinese-style fried rice, though. While high heat is advised for cooking the latter, kimchi fried rice needs only a medium-high temperature. Tossing the grains quickly in high heat gives them that slightly browned texture you want in your fried rice, but since you're cooking them with kimchi, a temperature adjustment is needed to keep the pieces of fermented vegetables from burning. Some recipes instruct to saute the kimchi before adding the rice; this method works best when using warm rice. 

Nothing beats using leftover grains for fried rice, though. In this case, you toss the rice into the frying pan before the kimchi so it warms up inside while getting lightly crisped up outside. For best results, follow the experts' advice to bring your leftover rice to room temperature before frying it. 

Drain the kimchi before frying it

Kimchi also needs a little prep before you put it in the pan. First, drain the juice to remove as much moisture as possible from the vegetables. This allows them to take on the flavors of the aromatics that you saute it with. Remember to save the leftover juice since you can add it later to intensify the dish's kimchi flavor. 

Aside from kimchi juice, other seasonings can be added to your kimchi fried rice while cooking it to balance its savory, tangy, and umami flavor. Mix some soy sauce with brown sugar to infuse caramel-like notes to the dish. Adding mayo to your kimchi fried rice makes it creamier. Mix mayonnaise with kimchi, scallions, soy sauce, and Korean chili powder (gochugaru) in a bowl, and then pour the blend over the rice while it cooks. Mayonnaise can be added as a last-minute touch to the dish, too.

Let it all sit in the pan for a bit to achieve that delectable, paella-like crisp at the bottom of your kimchi fried rice. That lightly burnt layer of grains adds texture to the dish and imparts a wonderful toasty flavor.

If you want to follow how Koreans enjoy kimchi fried rice, drizzle some toasted sesame oil before serving to give it some sweet nuttiness. Garnish it with scallions, sesame seeds, and nori strips, too.