Jean's Kimchi Fried Rice With Nori

August 3, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Whenever I go home my mom makes a huge vat of kimchi fried rice and leaves a firm note: ERIC, EAT. I've seen her cook it a thousand times, yet I don't feel that mine has ever come out like hers. She once said that the secret to her kimchi fried rice is, well, the kimchi. And though I'm able to recreate some version of her spicy-briny cabbage from taste memory, my kimchi will never be her kimchi, and in turn neither will my kimchi fried rice ever be her kimchi fried rice. Still, here it is: my best effort at Korean ambrosia, which, when you really look at it, isn't much at all. Just a cheap way to use up leftover rice with this and that from the pantry. A proper holdover comfort of my childhood, this is all I want to eat at the end of a rough week—proper mom food.Eric Kim

Food52 Review: Featured in: When I Came Out to My Parents, Kimchi Fried Rice Held Us Together.The Editors

Serves: 4
Cook time: 30 min


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more as needed
  • 6 ounces Spam (about 1/2 can), finely diced
  • 2 cups very ripe kimchi (like, the rankest, ripest you've got), chopped, plus as much of the juice as you can get
  • 4 cups cooked, day-old white rice (especially short-grain)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 packet roasted seaweed snack, crushed
  • 4 fried eggs, to serve with
In This Recipe


  1. First, heat the sesame oil in a very large, nonstick pan or wok. Crisp up the Spam, then add the kimchi (hold the juice for later) and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant and darker in color.
  2. At this point you can mix in the rice, breaking it up with your fingers or with a wooden spoon. Add the kimchi juice, soy sauce, and more oil here if you need. Be diligent with that spoon, stirring constantly and scraping up any rice that sticks to the bottom (this is where one of those nonstick pans with that old-fashioned red dot in the middle comes in handy). Cook for 5 to 10 minutes until everything is well-combined and slightly toasted.
  3. To finish, crush the roasted seaweed snack with your hands and mix into the rice. I find that this really rounds everything out and means you can skip extra seasoning. (The kimchi and Spam are salty enough, anyway; plus, this is what my mom does.)
  4. It's traditional to top each serving with a fried egg—to be exact, a gooey, runny egg, barely set, coating the red rice with yolky gold.

More Great Recipes:
Korean|Rice|Sesame Oil|Soy Sauce|Dinner|Lunch

Reviews (14) Questions (0)

14 Reviews

June Y. December 9, 2018
What do you mean by 'roasted seaweed snack'? Is it just a packet of plain nori, or
is it some kind of snack mix with other ingredients thrown in?
Author Comment
Eric K. December 9, 2018
Hi June, it's this:
June Y. December 9, 2018
Thanks, Eric! I will look for it or something similar at my local H Mart, as apparently FreshDirect does not deliver to my area.
Ukey September 9, 2018
Spam is much more popular overseas than we may realize. Even making it into Monty Python's hilarious "Spam Spam spam" sketch. I make my Korean rice with tofu chunks that I've marinated in gochuchang and roasted until chewy. It is delicious!!
Author Comment
Eric K. September 21, 2018
Whoa, neat tip re: tofu.
JLG September 2, 2018
Ah, Eric, you and your family are blessed and deserve each other. Your love and tenderness for each other are so clear.

Re: substitutes for Spam (why would you do that?), Chinese roast pork i.e. char siu is excellent and/or linguisa aka Portuguese sausage.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 2, 2018
Thank you for the sweet note. & agreed, the Spam makes it.
Lilia August 30, 2018
This is a beautiful, tear-jerking story -- thank you, Eric! I'm the American-born daughter of Korean immigrants as well, so this story really resonates with me. Your parents sound wonderful. People can always change and grow, no matter their age.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 2, 2018
Lilia, thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts.
susan G. August 29, 2018
Yes! I made this once, a few years ago, and haven't since, even though we both liked it. My husband binges on kimchi, then leaves it til the urge strikes again. We have a spare refrigerator with jars with some kimchi, waiting to be fried up like this. I've also made a Korean stew with those remainders -- all delicious.
Author Comment
Eric K. September 2, 2018
Kimchi jjigae with Spam is a close second to this fried rice, for sure.
Ash August 29, 2018
What’s the best replacement for spam?
Author Comment
Eric K. August 29, 2018
Hey Ash, great question. Pork belly would be nice? Some salty ham, even hot dogs to be (pardon the pun) frank.
Hank A. August 6, 2018
You lost me at Spam ...