Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeum Bap) with Bacon


I suppose many of you will agree that fried rice is one of the most extraordinary dishes in the world. Whatever we use as ingredients, it always ends up, miraculously, as a flavoursome meal.  I am often surprised how good it is compared to some “standard” preparations, where I follow the recipe and respect the ingredients’ list. Naturally, when I learnt about fried rice with kimchi, I had to test this Korean version of fried rice.

For those who haven’t heard about kimchi or haven’t read my previous posts, kimchi (김치) is a very ancient Korean preparation of seasoned fermented vegetables. According to Wikipedia the oldest references to kimchi go back as far as 3000 years ago. Apart from the chili, garlic, ginger and scallions are the most frequent ingredients of the most popular, fiery kimchi version. Kimchi has a very powerful smell, but once you taste it and love it, the smell will never be associated with anything unpleasant. It is spicy, hot, sour and, like most fermented vegetable preparations, very healthy. High in fiber, low in calories and fat, it is packed with vitamin C (thanks to the fermentation) and carotene. It also contains several other vitamins, helps digestion, is said to prevent certain cancers… In short: it’s a wonder food. Its importance in the Korean cuisine cannot be compared to anything in any European food culture I know. It is not only eaten as a side dish, but also put into warm dishes, for example… fried rice.

Kimchi can be made with different vegetables, but the most popular are white radish (daikon) and Chinese (Napa) cabbage kimchi. Until now I have experimented with both (Kkakdugi 깍두기, or Cubed Radish Kimchi, and Mak Kimchi, or Easy Chinese Cabbage Kimchi). Mature and well fermented Chinese cabbage kimchi is the one used in warm dishes, so I waited for its flavours to develop and decided to combine it with fried rice.

Since it was my first attempt to use kimchi this way, I decided, exceptionally, to follow a precise recipe. I have chosen Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeum Bap) with Bacon found on Hyosun Ro’s Eating and Living. It was easy, quick, convenient and tasted heavenly. The most surprising part was that the complexity of flavours created by the ripe, well fermented kimchi. It was difficult to believe that soy sauce and chili paste were the only seasonings. Thank you, Hyosun Ro, for introducing me to this amazing version of fried rice.

I have respected the recipe, but changed a bit the proportions, added some frozen peas I often mix with rice and substituted bacon with smoked pork loin. I have also skipped gochujang because I didn’t feel like very hot dishes (my kimchi was quite hot).

TIP: As Hyosun Ro advises, the previous day rice is the best here. If slightly microwaved, it breaks easily into grains during the frying process.

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

about 200 g  (1 cup) cooked short grain rice (I used the Japanese rice)

1 onion (sliced)

1 small carrot julienned or diced

about 100 g bacon, diced (or other smoked pork cut; I used smoked pork loin)

8 heaped tablespoons Chinese cabbage kimchi, drained and cut into bite-sized pieces

(5-6 tablespoons frozen peas)

4 tablespoons juice from kimchi

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chili paste) 

(green onion)

1-2 tablespoons canola oil (to fry)

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

Heat some canola oil in the pan and fry the bacon (do not brown it).

(You can remove the fat if the bacon rendered too much of it).

Add onion, kimchi, gochujang and carrot.

Stir-fry for about 5 minutes.

(If using, add the frozen peas and stir-fry for two minutes).

Add the rice, the soy sauce and the kimchi juice.

Stir-fry for another 5 minutes scrapping the delicious browned parts that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Combine with sesame oil just before serving and serve with chopped green onion (optional).


59 Replies to “Kimchi Fried Rice (Kimchi Bokkeum Bap) with Bacon”

  1. Ah yes …. fried rice, the popular go to dish for asians with leftover rice 😀 Actually, these days, I would purposely just cook the rice just to make this dish. Kimchi fried rice is one of my favorite variations. And the best part is, everything is all ready! Of course this version is what I’d call “gourmet” with the addition of extra ingredients.
    You’ve got me craving for this right now and I’m totally out of kimchi. Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?

    1. Hi Ping, thank you for this comment. I am glad you are also one of the fried rice fans (but who isn’t???). I also often cook rice just to make fried rice 😉 Good luck with kimchi!

  2. I’ve never heard of kimchi fried rice but I can guess it will be delicious for sure. The dish looks colorful. A Korean friend told me that Koreans try to include at least 7 different colored vegetables in their dishes, to make it more nutritious. You probably exceed 7!

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Three-Cookies. You are very kind, but I’m really nervous… I have put only orange (carrot) and green (peas), the onion doesn’t count… well let’s say kimchi counts as red. It doesn’t make even four! I still have a lot to learn about the Korean cuisine 🙂
      As a fan of fried rice you should try this version one day! I am sure you would love it.

  3. Your are absolutely right fried rice is always nice, even if you add some eggs only. Oh I love the idea of using kimchi tihis way. I will try it next time with some leftover rice.

  4. Hi Sissi! Oh I love kimchi, and I love fried rice, but why have I not mix the two yet? What an oversight!

    I can almost taste the kimchi fried rice in my mouth just by reading your descriptions. Will have to pick up a “home made” glass of kimchi this week when I do make it to the Asian super market. Yum!

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno. If you like both, I’m sure you would enjoy kimchi rice. It was an amazing discovery for me. And another reason to keep on making kimchi, so that I always have some in the fridge (I also have to make the real cabbage kimchi, made with whole leaves! it’s more difficult than the lazy mak kimchi, but Hyosun says it’s much better!).

  5. I have a coworker that goes crazy over kimchi! And he goes crazy over the fact that I’ve never tried it!! As soon as I saw this I thought of him and I’m going to send him over to see this recipe!! I’m sure I would love it, I rarely dislike anything!! This was a fabulous idea to incorporate it with fried rice!

    1. Thank you, Linda. I suppose that if your coworker loves kimchi, he must like the kimchi rice. Kimchi is one of the love or hate foods, but if you like hot, bold flavours, you would probably like it.

  6. Well, it looks like you did a fantastic job with your first attempt at making kimichi this way. Sounds and looks incredible, Sissi!! I’m with Linda, and have actually never tried it before. I need to get on that!

  7. Fried rice was my absolute favourite through my youth. I can remember dashing (sprinting full force) to the cafeteria at school on chicken fried rice days to be the first in line 🙂 – there is something so satisfying and tasty about it – almost primal ;). And you know how I love my cabbage Sissi… what a great combination of flavours – the bacon is especially nice here – yum! I have no doubt I would devour this.

    1. THank you so much, Kelly. You have chosen the word very well. “Primal” is perfect to describe it. The smoked loin (I used instead of bacon) was fantastic with kimchi, which is sour. Somehow smoked meat pairs well with fermented cabbage (sauerkraut tastes great with smoked sausages or meat too).

  8. I’ll share a secret with you – my fried rice is just terrible! When I have it from a restaurant it’s one of the most enjoyable things. Comforting, full of colour, flavour, texture… when I make it at home it ends up being some filthy slop which is really not fit for eating 😀

    To be fair though, I never tried Kimchi fried rice, and it looks wonderful – maybe if I can make or buy some good kimchi I’ll try and give this a shot because it looks very, very appetizing, compared to the pale trash I normally produce!

    My ex-girlfriend used to adore kimchi – I thought I’d never be able to enjoy it myself, but living here – these days I just love it. I told you before about the cucumber kimchi? You have to try that… the cucumber is almost chewy because it’s salted quite a bit to draw out the water and becomes very crunchy and delicious once it’s soaked up all the wonderful chilli “juice” 🙂

    1. Thank you, Charles for the compliment. Fried rice is very easy, but now that I think the rice used is very important, but most of all the way it’s cooked. If it’s too soft, then it will become mushy… I always steam rice in my rice cooker, so it’s always more or less perfect 😉
      Another thing I pay attention to (but I suppose you also do) is the order of adding things, so that the vegetables which cook quickly don’t get mushy. It is also easy to add too much sauce, which results in a mushy dish too… Now I realise fried rice is not as accidental as it looks… (I’m not a fried rice specialist of course, but I make it so often I don’t remember how it looked like the first time I made it, but I suppose it wasn’t a success).
      (PS Don’t tell anyone, but I have made the cucumber kimchi because you have praised its qualities so much 😉 It was extraordinary! I have photos and the post is almost ready, so you will see it very soon here! I think it’s my favourite kimchi now thanks to you!).

      1. Oh – I’m so pleased!!! I cant wait to see your recipe for the cucumber kimchi! It’s been a while since I had some myself – perhaps I can be motivated to make some myself 🙂

  9. Sissi you are a brave one! I’ve been waiting to see if you survive all that kimchi of late. We eat a lot of fermented foods, but I draw the line at the vegetables. Each year we loose a couple of our first nation people to some fermented fish thingy where I live. I would be chicken to try kimchi. I agree about fried rice though, it is as versatile as the stuff you put into it. Plus it’s a great way to use up the leftovers. We often have fried rice at our house. I have to admit to a sacrilege: I always use Basmati rice in place of oriental rice… Basmati falls apart every time.

    1. Thank you so much, Zsuzsa. I love kimchi and am so happy it’s so versatile I can eat it raw or put it into soups, noodles, fried rice… Fermented fish thingy??? It sounds intriguing!
      Actually now that I think about it, I wonder why Hungarians haven’t started to ferment cabbage with hot paprika??? (Or have they?) Kimchi is definitely something Hungarians might like. (I have tested it on one Hungarian until now).
      I am not a big fan of basmati rice, so I’ve never tried it in fried rice. It’s too “loose”. (I never take it in Indian restaurants for example). I like the rice slightly sticky, the Japanese or Chinese way, but I have been addicted to Japanese rice for a couple of years, so it’s always Japanese now. It never falls apart (it keeps the shape).

      1. I can’t remember what it is called, they dig the fish into the ground with some other stuff and let it rot. Appaerantly it stinks to high heaven. “Falls apart” I meant the rice grains are all separate and don’t stick together. I should have used the word “loose” then. I love the taste of basmati. I use only 2 kinds of rice; basmati for most things and arborio for the creamy stuff.

        1. I’m sorry, Zsuzsa, it’s my fault. My English is far from being perfect. I see what you mean now! I also use arborio but rarely (only when I make risotto, which doesn’t happen often).
          The fermented fish sounds like something from Northern Europe (I don’t remember, maybe from Finland? Iceland? I have heard about it.) I didn’t know it is eaten in Canada too!

        2. By the way… Koreans often don’t use the fish sauce in the kimchi making process (it’s really a shorter step), but raw oyster to ferment and boost the fermentation… I know it’s safe since millions of Koreans have it, but I’m afraid of making it on my own. I am very careful with raw oysters. If they don’t move “tortured” with lemon I discard them, so psychologically it’s too much to make an oyster ferment… I think I should see “live” someone make kimchi with a raw oyster, than taste it after the fermentation and then maybe I would be able to do it.

          1. Only some first nations people are willing to eat that stuff. And most of them don’t. Be careful with raw oysters Sissi – there are constant warnings from Health Canada not to eat raw oysters from various parts of the world, they can be deadly. I know animals suffer when they are butchered; I try not to think of it, though sometimes it really bothers me, but I draw the line at cooking them or eating them alive. I never tasted lobster and never will for the appalling way they get cooked. I think if I had to kill my own meat, I would have to be starving first and with no hope of getting food any other way.

            1. Now I understand! As for oysters, I only buy from well known and good quality sources (never from a supermarket) and order them only in very good restaurants. I only have French oysters and I know they are very well controlled (even too much according to oyster farmers). I don’t care for oysters or lobsters (I think they don’t really feel pain), but I do care for the way chickens, pigs and cows live before they are slaughtered (slaughter is quicker and doesn’t compare to the awful lives the majority of them suffer to cost cheaper). Over the years I have gradually eliminated all the industrially raised animals (I buy only free-range). I couldn’t live without meat, so this is the minimum I can do, even though it costs me more money and time (I cannot simply go and buy all the meat at the local supermarket). I’m a definite carnivore.

                1. Zsuzsa, I was vegetarian when I was about 17. For about a year. I finally quit when, as usually on Sunday, my mum made roast chicken… I couldn’t resist it any more.

  10. Hi Sissi – Your kimchi fried rice looks so delicious! Thank you so much for all your kind words about my recipe and the link! I am amazed every time how well you execute the recipe with your own twist. I made it a few days ago as well. I love the crunch and pungency that kimchi gives to the fried rice. Great job!

    1. Hyosun, I’m so happy you approve of my slightly modified version. It’s the ultimate compliment. I cannot wait to try this rice with properly made kimchi (I mean whole leaves). I still haven’t started it. Waiting for a day when I feel brave 😉

  11. Let’s see – what do I NOT like about this dish? Nothing! 🙂 I love fried rice, I love kimchi and I’m a bacon fanatic. I will definitely be making this!

  12. This must be totally bursting with flavors; not to mention spices!!:) I can already imagine the wonderful colors of the fried rice when placed on the table, hmmm, it is definitely a good one to add to any festive menu *winks*

  13. Your food is so beautiful! I can’t wait to try this as it is a totally different type of food than I usually cook. I’m adding your site to my blogroll also. I know a lot of my readers would love this recipe too.

  14. Sissi, I heard so much about kimchi in fried rice, but still yet have to try… yours look great, absolutely mouthwatering…spicy and so tasty. Ah! Bacon…yes, must even taste even yummier!
    Have a great week 🙂

  15. Sissi, this is something I have been wanting to make with kimchi! I know I’m not a kimchi fan (because it’s a bit spicy for me) but I always think that I can eat it with rice because it will be less spicy (if I control the amount). Ohhh looks so delicious. I totally wish this was my lunch. I would put fried egg on top (again this topic, haha). I need to make this soon…just so much to do and can’t catch up with everything I want to make! Love this post!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. You should probably skip the gochujang from the ingredients list then 🙂 I sometimes put an egg on top too! I love fried egg on top of the rice (leftover rice, soy sauce, fried egg and a bit of katsuobushi and it’s a fantastic 5 minute meal!)

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