Protein-packed kimchi fried rice with tofu

Protein-packed kimchi fried rice with tofu

I always have leftover rice in the refrigerator. It’s a staple in my household. Although I loved heating it up and eating it plain with curry or daal, one of my favorite ways to use up old rice is in this kimchi fried rice recipe that I load up with protein by adding shredded tofu and a crispy egg.

Fried rice is one of the best ways to not only use up leftover rice but also any other vegetables you have lying around. It comes together quickly, it is easy to make, and it’s super hearty. Scroll down to see how I put this recipe together. 

Kimchi fried rice with a crispy egg on top

Is Kimchi good for you?

I love kimchi because it is so delicious. But I also love it because it is good for you. Kimchi is primarily made of cabbage, therefore, it is loaded with fiber. And it is fermented, meaning it has probiotics which are good bacteria that promote a healthy gut. Additionally, there’s research to show that kimchi can help improve digestion, build a stronger immunity, reduce risk of some chronic diseases, promote weight loss, and even keep our skin healthy. Plus, it has vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate, nutrients that are essential in a healthy diet.

Is leftover rice good for you?

Rice is a staple food in my home, but I’ve always been cautious of eating too much of it because it can be a simple carbohydrate that can turn into sugar for some people. However, a 2015 study found that leftover rice, white rice that has been cooked, cooled, and reheated, may be better for people who need to maintain their blood sugar, like people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes. The study found that the “cooling of cooked starch is known to cause starch retrogradation which increases resistant starch content,” which means the leftover, reheated rice had a lower glycemic index and doesn’t spike people’s blood sugar as highly as freshly cooked rice. 

Why shred tofu?

Tofu is more versatile than people realize. You don’t have to just cut it up into cubes. You can blend it into sauces, crumble it up to replicate ground meat, and for this protein-packed kimchi fried rice recipe, I shred it up so that it easily blends into the fried rice and veggies, so you can get protein in every bite. I also like to shred tofu into smaller pieces because it is easier to crisp it up in a pan or oven, and I find that I can use less oil to do that too. Additionally, prepping tofu this way makes it easier for picky eaters to consume tofu if they have texture issues. Once mixed in with the rice, the tofu is barely noticeable in this dish. 

How to shred tofu?

Start by using extra firm tofu. I like the kind that comes in a vacuumed seal because it is generally more sturdy and dense. I drain the tofu and press it in a dish towel or paper towel for 10 minutes. You want a little moisture in the tofu before you start shredding it because it helps the tofu not break apart so easily. Once you have pressed the tofu, you can use a cheese grater to shred it. Usually a block of tofu yields about 2 cups of shredded tofu for me. The consistently once shredded should look like shredded cheese.

Recipe: Kimchi fried rice with shredded tofu

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 

Prep time: 25 minutes | Active cook time: 30 minutes | Total cook time: 55 minutes  

Ingredients

  • 1 block of extra firm tofu 
  • 2 cups of day-old long-grain white rice (I like using basmati for this recipe)
  • 1 cup of kimchi 
  • 2 to 3 carrots 
  • ¼ cup of shredded cabbage (optional)
  • 2 stalks of green onions (greens and whites)
  • 1 whole medium onion 
  • 1 teaspoon of minced, fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of garlic 
  • Pinch of Chinese 5 spice 
  • 2 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce 
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 serrano chili, Tahi chili, or jalapeño 
  • 2 to 4 eggs, depending on how many people you are serving. I like to add 1 egg per person.
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh cilantro or Thai basil for garnish
  • Pinch of sesame seeds for garnish 
  • Nori for garnish 
  • Chili oil for garnish
  • Salt and black pepper for taste 
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil (olive oil or neutral oil) 

Instructions 

1. Drain extra firm tofu, press the tofu between paper towels or a dish towel for 10 minutes to remove some of the extra moisture.

 
2. Shred the tofu using a cheese grater. Once you shred the whole block, you should have about 2 cups of tofu. It will look like shredded cheese. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, toss, and set aside. 

Shred tofu with a cheese grater


3. Chop up your vegetables. I like to cut everything into thin slices so it cooks up evenly, set aside. You want to make sure you prep all your ingredient before you start cooking because that process goes by really fast. 


4. Prep your kimchi, chopping up the vegetables so that it’s cut up into bite size pieces. 


5. Once all your vegetables and tofu are prepped, you can start the cooking process. To save time and my sanity, I like to use one pan for this whole meal. 


6. In a very large pan, add in a tablespoon of oil and crack in your eggs, cook on medium-high heat until the whites of the eggs are crispy, but the yolk is still nice and runny. I like to use a lid when cooking eggs to help speed up the cooking process without overcooking the yolks. Once your sunny-side up eggs reach your desired consistency, put them onto a separate plate.


7. In the same pan, add a touch more oil and then add in your shredded tofu on medium-high heat. The pan should sizzle. Make sure the tofu lies flat on the pan’s surface and then don’t touch the tofu for 5 to 8 minutes so that it can get nice a crispy. After waiting, toss the tofu around with your spatula, making sure the other nice gets a little bit of color and then remove the tofu into a separate dish. Make sure to keep this dish close by because you will add this tofu back into the kimchi rice mixture soon. 


8. In the same pan, add the rest of your oil, 1 tablespoon, and then add in your vegetables on medium-high heat. You should be adding in your aromatics too during this time (onions, garlic, ginger, chilis). Get a little bit of color on them, and then add in your kimchi with its juices. This should cause the pan to sizzle. Let the kimchi and vegetables cook for another minute before you add in your leftover rice. 
I like to heat the rice in the microwave for 30 seconds before adding into the pan because it makes the rice easier to work with, but you don’t need to do that if you don’t have time. 

Sautéed vegetables and kimchi cooked on a stovetop


9. Once you add your rice, add in your soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and mix everything together. Avoid over mixing the rice because you don’t want the grains to break apart. 

White rice added to vegetables and kimchi mixture


10. Add in your Chinese 5 spice powder and your ¼ of cup if the rice mixture is looking dry. Add in your tofu, mix everything together and then place a lid on top of the pan and let the heat and steam do some of the work for you of bringing together the flavors. You may have to knock the heat down to medium at this point so that the rice doesn’t burn. 

Rice tossed with kimchi and vegetables


11. After about 5 minutes, remove the lid, give the rice another mix to make sure everything is incorporated and then plate up the rice. 


12. Once the kimchi fried rice is plated, I add an egg on top, sprinkle sesame seeds over the egg, and add some shredded nori (seaweed paper), and some chili oil for garnish. I also like to finish everything with a pinch of fresh herbs like cilantro or Thai basil, and then you dig in. 

Serving up kimchi fried rice


    Let me know how you like this recipe by adding your comment below! 

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