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Kimchi Fried Rice with Bacon and Shiitake Mushrooms

Countervailing forces.

4 portions


About 35 minutes to prepare the rice and at least 4 hours to chill it; about 45 minutes to make the fried rice


Fried rice is a dish engineered for leftovers, but we never have leftover rice in our house! On the other hand, anyone who makes a fresh pot of Carolina Gold just for this recipe will have no regrets. Featuring smoky pork to soothe the kimchi funk and calm its nerves, the fried rice also has lightly browned shiitakes and a pop of fresh sliced scallions. It is a dish that veritably rages with umami and textural intrigue. We can’t force you to top each portion with a fried egg, but magic happens when the rich, runny yolk cloaks the grains. Don’t bother with chopsticks. Get a spoon and shovel it down—morning, noon, or night.

Cooking Remarks

Cold, firm, and crumbly grains fry up well and keep their form unlike hot, just-cooked rice. After cooking, spread the Carolina Gold out in a baking dish or on a small sheet pan to cool quickly, then transfer it to a sealed container, get it into the fridge, and give it at least 4 hours or even a couple of days get used to being cold.

Our kimchi makes superb fried rice, but most of us aren’t going to start a batch of kimchi when we’re in the mood to fry rice. Buy the spiciest kimchi you can find—if it’s old and sour from languishing in the back of the fridge, all the better! Tossing chopped kimchi with rice in a hot skillet tames its wild tang and produces a more nuanced fried rice than fresh, well-mannered kimchi.

If you prefer to make a meatless fried rice, first make sure the kimchi is vegan (most of it isn’t), then omit bacon from the recipe and replace it with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil to sauté the onion.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale; a large fine-mesh strainer; a medium bowl; a medium saucepan; a silicone spatula; a wide, shallow vessel (such as a pie plate or square baking dish); and a 12-inch skillet.

    • 7
    • 11
      ounces plus 1½ tablespoons spring or filtered water
    • 3
      ounces bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
    • Peanut oil, if needed
    • ½
      medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 6
      ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps halved if large, thinly sliced
    • 2
      medium garlic cloves, minced
    • 9
      ounces (1½ cups) drained kimchi, roughly chopped
    • 1
      tablespoon soy sauce, plus more if needed
    • 4 or 5
      scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
    • 2
      teaspoons toasted sesame oil, plus more if needed
    • 4
      fried eggs

    Place the rice in a large fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under cool running water, gently stirring it about, until the water runs clear. Shake the strainer to remove excess water, set the strainer over a medium bowl, and let the rice drain for 5 to 10 minutes. 


    Turn the rice into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the water and swirl the pot to settle the rice into an even layer. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring the contents to a simmer. Cover the pan, turn down the heat to low, and cook the rice for 13 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and fluff the grains with a silicone spatula.


    Turn the rice into a wide, shallow vessel, such as a pie plate or square baking dish, and distribute it in an even layer. Let cool until barely warm to the touch, cover, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.


    In a 12-inch skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and rendered, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. You should have about 1 tablespoon of rendered fat. If you have more, pour off and discard the excess; if you have less, supplement with peanut oil. Set the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and another pinch of salt, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kimchi, rice, and several grindings of black pepper, then drizzle in the remaining 1½ tablespoons water. Stir to combine the ingredients, and once everything is well mixed, distribute it in an even layer, turn up the heat to high, and cook, stirring only once or twice, until the mixture forms crusty brown spots on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.


    Remove the pan from the heat. Add the soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil, and bacon, then stir well. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Divide among 4 bowls and top each with a fried egg.