Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kimchi Fried Rice

When I first met John, he would go on and on about this dish he used to get in college called Kimchi Fried Rice. The restaurant was located in a hole in the wall in Berkeley in a place called the Asian Ghetto (a.k.a. Durant Square). You can imagine why I wasn't exactly scrambling to go there.

Eventually, he caught me in a good mood and we ended up sitting on one of the greasy bar stools at Bear's Ramen. The lady whipped up a Kimchi Fried Rice with SPAM for John and a Kimchi Fried Rice with Tofu for me. I was hooked after my first bite! It was unbelievably delicious! Perfect amount of smokiness (from the chilis?) and sour from the kimchi. And she won my heart by topping it with a sunny-side-up egg. Where has this dish been all of my life? I've never even seen this on the menu at Korean restaurants.

So, we went back again, and again, and AGAIN. Each time, we mentally took notes of the ingredients that the lady (owner I'm assuming) put into the wok. We tried to duplicate what we saw but it wasn't the same. We even googled the recipe but we were missing a secret ingredient. Finally, John found it. The secret ingredient is...


Who knew? Paprika is what gives the rice that amazing color and smokey flavor. You can adapt this dish for any protein. SPAM is most popular but you could use chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, even tofu!

Bon Appetit!
Kimchi Fried Rice with SPAM or Tofu
Adapted from these recipes and from careful observation at Bear's Ramen
Serves 2 

1 cup of kimchi (drained, chopped)
1/2 block Spam (diced) or 1/2 block of Extra Firm Tofu
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon paprika powder
2 eggs
2 stems green onion (chopped)
Whole sesame seed for garnishing
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add in your SPAM or tofu and let it cook in the oil for a few minutes. Add in the kimchi, stir everything for a few more minutes until everything is heated through.

In the meantime, heat a little bit of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Crack two eggs, into the skillet, being careful to keep the egg yolks separate. Let it cook until the whites are done but the middle of the egg yolk a bit runny.

Push the ingredients to the edge of the wok and put the rice in the middle. Add in the soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, paprika, salt and pepper. Incorporate all of the ingredient and use your spatula to push the rice into the wok. You don't want to burn it, you just want it lightly browned.

By this time your eggs should be done. Spoon the Kimchi Fried Rice into two bowls and top each with an egg. Sprinkle some sesame seeds and green onions on top.

Kimchi Fried Rice with SPAM
Kimchi Fried Rice with Tofu


  1. I tried the recipe last night and it tasted exactly as I remembered. Who would have thought it was paprika! I thought I was the only person who attentively watched the lady behind the counter so I could recreate the dish at home. I just assumed the red powder she quickly dumped into the pan was hot pepper flakes. Back when I was a penny pincher in college I would save up just to pig out on Kimchi Fried Rice from Bear's Ramen. Thank you for posting this recipe!

  2. We make this at least once a month now that we've moved away. So glad you liked it! Go Bears!