A spicy, scrumptious meal that comes together in one skillet in under 30 minutes! This vegan kimchi fried rice features crispy tofu, bok choy, and flavor that will knock your socks off!
Fried rice is one of my go-to formulas for a quick and easy dinner. It's always easy to make, super customizable, delicious, and comes together in a flash.
I have a zillion and one different ways of cooking up fried rice, from classic vegan fried rice to pineapple fried rice, but vegan kimchi fried rice is one of my absolute favorites. Kimchi packs a real flavor punch, so it always turns out delicious!
Traditional kimchi fried rice recipes generally include a fried egg, which we're obviously not going to use here. Instead, I've worked in some pan-fried tofu for protein, along with some baby bok choy for texture variation. You could absolutely leave either one out for a simpler dish (say, if you're just serving it as a side), or switch things up by using your favorite stir-fry veggie and/or plant-based protein, like seitan or tempeh in place of the tofu.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Napa cabbage kimchi. Make sure you're using vegan kimchi. Many brands contain anchovy paste or fish sauce. Mother In Law's makes a vegan variety that's nice and spicy and carried by my local supermarket. You can also use homemade vegan kimchi.
- Gochujang. This is a spicy Korean fermented chili paste. It will add so much flavor to the dish! Look for it in the international section of your supermarket, or in an Asian market.
- Soy sauce. Gluten-free tamari or liquid aminos will also work.
- Toasted sesame oil. This should also be available in the international aisle of the store.
- Peanut oil. You could substitute just about any neutral high-heat oil here. Vegetable oil, canola oil, and avocado oil will all work fine.
- Tofu. I'm using super-firm tofu, which is easy to work with and requires minimal prep. Extra-firm tofu will also work, but will need to be pressed first. Learn how to press tofu here.
- Cooked rice. Leftover rice that's at least a day or two old works best. This is because rice dries out while its being stored in the fridge, and slightly dry rice crisps up better when fried. Just about any variety of rice will work, but I'm partial to jasmine rice for this particular recipe.
- Baby bok choy. Regular bok choy works as a substitute if needed. Or substitute your favorite greens, keeping in mind that tougher greens might take a few more minutes to cook, while more tender greens will cook faster.
- Scallions. Also known as green onions.
- Toasted sesame seeds.
How It's Made
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll all the way down if you'd like to skip right to the recipe!
- Start by roughly chopping and measuring out your kimchi. Squeeze the kimchi to remove excess juice as you measure it. Transfer the juice to a small bowl.
- Now add the gochujang, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the bowl with the kimchi juice. Stir it up. This is your sauce.
- Pan-fry your tofu next. Heat some oil in a wok or nonstick skillet, then add your tofu cubes in an even layer.
- Cook the tofu pieces for a few minutes on each side, until they're golden brown and crispy. Transfer them to a plate when they're done.
- Add some more oil to the wok, give it a minute to heat up, then add diced onion. Cook the onion for just a couple of minutes, until it begins to soften.
- Add the garlic and cook it with the onion for about one minute, until it becomes very fragrant.
- Now add your kimchi. Keep cooking everything over medium-high heat for a few minutes, stirring the mixture frequently, until the kimchi starts to dry up a bit.
- Crank up the heat. We want our wok to be very hot when we stir-fry our rice.
- Add your rice to the wok. Your rice should be cold when you add it, straight from the fridge. Now add the baby bok choy and your sauce to the skillet.
- Start flipping everything with a spatula. Make sure to mix it up well!
- Keep cooking and flipping the mixture over high heat. After a few minutes the rice should start to dry up and crisp in spots. It's done cooking when you've got lots of crispy bits. The baby bok choy should have wilted by this point as well.
- Return the tofu to the wok or skillet and flip everything a few more times to incorporate the tofu into the mixture.
- Take the skillet off of the burner and sprinkle your vegan kimchi fried rice with some chopped scallions and sesame seeds.
- Serve and enjoy!
Leftovers & Storage
Leftover vegan kimchi fried rice will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
It can be! Most kimchi is gluten-free, but check the label when you buy it to make sure yours is. You'll also need to make sure your gochujang is gluten-free (some brands are, some are not), and use gluten-free tamari instead of soy sauce.
In general, yes, kimchi fried rice is pretty spicy. You can make yours a bit milder by omitting the gochujang and using kimchi that's labelled as mild.
Fried rice is best with rice that's a day or two old and has had some time to dry out in the fridge. If you don't have any leftover rice on hand, try this method for replicating it with freshly cooked rice. Having said that, you can use rice that you've just cooked using conventional methods, just don't anticipate it getting as crispy as fried rice that you might get from a restaurant.
More Vegan Korean Recipes
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Vegan Kimchi Fried Rice
- 2 cups vegan kimchi
- 2 tablespoons gochujang, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
- 8 ounces super firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 cups cooked rice (Note 1), preferably at least a day old, chilled in the refrigerator
- 3 bunches baby bok choy (Note 2), broken up into individual leaves
- 2 scallions, chopped
- Sesame seeds, for topping
Roughly chop the kimchi. As you measure the kimchi, lightly squeeze it to extract any excess juice. Transfer the juice to a small bowl.
Add the gochujang, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the bowl with the kimchi juice. Stir everything to combine. This is your sauce.
Coat a large flat-bottomed skillet or wok with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and place it over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the tofu cubes in a single layer. Cook the tofu for about 10 minutes, flipping the pieces about halfway through, until the pieces are golden brown and crispy.
Transfer the tofu to a plate.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet or wok and raise the heat to medium-high. Add the onion. Sauté until the onion in slightly softened, about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook it with the onion for about one minute.
Add the kimchi and cook it with the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it begins to dry up.
Raise the heat to high and add the rice, baby bok choy, and sauce. Cook the mixture, flipping everything frequently with a spatula, until rice begins to crisp spots, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the tofu to the skillet or wok and flip the mixture a few times to incorporate the tofu. Take the skillet off of the burner.
Top the kimchi fried rice with scallions and sesame seeds.
Divide among plates or bowls and serve.
- Most varieties of rice will work fine — long grain, short grain, brown or white. Jasmine rice is my personal preference.
- One small bunch of roughly chopped regular bok choy can be substituted if that's what's available to you.