This is the ultimate fried rice packed with flavor and vegetables. That means tons of savory umami goodness that makes your mouth water. Perfectly cooked rice that is still slightly chewy with a tender bite (not soggy) and vegetables that give a nice crunch are the foundations to this versatile dish. This is where kimchi and celery can really shine!
I had my first taste of fried rice with celery at age 9 and it was a mind-blowing experience. I wondered why celery wasn't used in all fried rice.
Even though I wasn't a big eater back then, I was perfectly content sitting alone and eating 3 bowls of this stuff while my mom spent hours catching up with her friend.
Not to mention, fried rice is quite versatile. I’m often inspired to make it when I can’t decide on what vegetables to eat, when I’m in need of a fridge produce clean out, or simply because I’m craving something satisfying with a lot of flavor and texture.
The addition of kimchi (also spelled "kimchee" sometimes) makes me crave this recipe even more. Just saying the word kimchi makes my mouth water.
click below to watch how to make this vegetarian mouth-watering kimchi fried rice
Turn the volume on to hear the sounds of cooking. Cooking can be meditative and is a great opportunity to slow down, relax, and engage in your senses. Read more on our about page.
main ingredients at a glance - here's how to get started
INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE
- 6 cups cooked medium grain white rice, chilled OR 3 cups medium grain white rice, uncooked
- 8 shiitake mushrooms
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 stalks celery
- ¼ small head of red cabbage
- 1 inch piece of ginger
- 1 medium shallot
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 cups vegetarian kimchi: check the ingredients list if using store bought kimchi (anchovy, oyster, or salted shrimp are commonly used in traditional kimchi)
- a neutral cooking oil (canola, avocado, or grapeseed)
- low sodium soy sauce: Yamasa's low sodium soy sauce is my favorite all purpose soy sauce that's preservative free (click the image under the pantry items section to find it on Amazon)
- ground black pepper
- rice cooking wine: cooking sake or rice cooking wine preferred, but water will work too
- sesame oil
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 3 large eggs, optional
cooking equipment and pantry items you may need
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follow the steps below to get started
This is a quick recipe if you already have leftover medium-grain white or brown rice. Move on to the vegetable prep if that's the case.
If not, don't worry. Cooking and chilling rice should only add about 10 minutes to your total time since you can get most of the vegetable prep done simultaneously while the rice is cooking.
By the time the rice is chilled, you'll be ready to start cooking the fried rice. I show you a useful technique to chill the rice quicker (watch the video at the 6:45 mark).
how to cook medium grain white rice
Rinse 3 cups of rice with cold water until the water runs clear (about 3 times) and strain.
In a medium pot, add the rinsed rice and smooth down the top surface. Place your palm down on the rice and fill with cold water until the water level covers your fingers, right below the knuckles (about 4 cups cold water).
Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately cover and turn down to simmer over low heat. Simmer for 18 minutes, remove from the heat source and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.
While the rice is simmering, wash your produce and begin your vegetable prep.
What about the mushrooms? That's up to you (read more about it below or jump straight to the vegetable prep section), though I do find the process of wiping mushrooms with a damp towel relaxing and meditative.
There has been a bit of debate on this topic, and while I was taught to NEVER EVER wash mushrooms, I think that advice has been debunked (at least for certain mushrooms like cremini / button mushrooms).
It all comes down to protecting flavor. Feel free to jump ahead to the process photos if you're not interested in this topic.
I was taught that mushrooms will absorb a lot of water if rinsed or soaked and washing may take away flavor producing amino acids.
It turns out mushrooms are 80-90% water, so they have a limited ability to soak up more water and according to Harold McGee, most of the amino acids are inside the cells.
Though I haven't tested it myself yet, I do think excess external moisture will require longer cooking time to brown the mushrooms. That's where you get amazing flavors from the Maillard reaction.
It may be debunked, but I would still be scared to wash mushrooms in front of other chefs in fear of outrage. So for now, I'll stick to wiping them clean with a damp cloth since I also enjoy the meditative process.
Peel and dice the carrots (photos 1 - 3).
Cut each celery stalk lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips, starting about 1/2 inch away from the bottom so all the pieces are held together for easier dicing. Then dice by cutting perpendicular to the stalk (photos 4 - 5).
De-stem each shiitake mushroom by twisting the stem off and dice as shown in photos 6 - 9.
Slice and dice a 1/4 head of red cabbage for some extra color and crunch.
Peel and mince a 1-inch piece of ginger, 1 medium shallot, and 3 cloves of garlic.
Finally, coarsely chop 2 cups of vegetarian kimchi (or more if you like spicy food). Make sure to reserve the liquid. You'll be adding that to the fried rice too.
how to quickly chill your rice
Chilling the rice is a key step so the rice gets a thin layer of “fried” crispy goodness rather than becoming soggy.
Once it's cooked, spread it evenly on a parchment paper-lined small sheet tray. Create diagonal lines in the rice using the side of a spatula to allow quicker cooling (shown at the 6:45 mark in the cooking video).
Chill for 5 - 10 minutes in the freezer if all your ingredients are ready to go, or you can chill the tray in the refrigerator until all your prep is ready.
before you start cooking the fried rice
Measure out the seasoning ingredients separately before you start cooking so you're not scrambling for rice cooking wine while your garlic is on the verge of burning.
Now you're ready to start cooking! There's a handy mise en place prep table below for your reference and a list of what kids can help with in the kitchen, or you can go straight to the recipe card.
mise en place – prep table to easily reference
Here is an ingredient prep table that's useful when you want to be able to quickly glance at a to-do list while cooking instead of re-reading recipe instructions over and over again.
|medium grain white rice||3 cups||rinse uncooked rice with cold water (3 times)|
|cold water||4 cups||used for cooking rice|
|shiitake mushrooms||8||clean, remove stems, 1/4" dice|
|carrots||3 medium||peel and 1/4" dice|
|celery||3 stalks||1/4" dice|
|red cabbage||1/4 small head||1/4" dice|
|ginger||1" piece||peel and mince|
|shallot||1 medium||peel and mince|
|garlic||3 cloves||peel and mince|
|vegetarian kimchi||2 cups||drain (reserve liquid)|
|neutral oil||3 tablespoons, divided||used for cooking|
|low sodium soy sauce||1 tablespoon and|
2 tablespoons, divided
|ground black pepper||1 teaspoon||measure out|
|rice cooking wine||1 tablespoon||measure out|
|sesame oil||2 teaspoons||measure out|
|cilantro, optional||1/4 bunch||chopped (about 1/4 cup)|
|large eggs||3||for sunny-side up eggs|
COOKING WITH KIDS - what can the kids help with?
- rinsing rice
- washing vegetables and wiping the mushrooms
- help place prepared ingredients into separate bowls or containers
- measure out sauce and seasoning ingredients
what are some possible ingredient substitutions?
- yellow onion can be used instead of the shallot
- shiitake mushrooms can be substituted with trumpet mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, or button mushrooms
- if you're short on time, you can use frozen diced carrots
You can customize this recipe to your taste with different vegetables and more or less seasoning.
other vegetables you can use in fried rice
- chopped green beans
- sliced sugar snap peas
- diced celery root
- riced broccoli or cauliflower (should be added right before the rice so it doesn't get soggy!)
PRO TIP on cooking fried rice
- When it comes to making fried rice or many other stir-fried dishes, it’s all about understanding the various cooking times each ingredient requires and adding them in the appropriate order
- Have your mise en place (prep) all ready to go (including measured out sauces/seasoning) and add your ingredients to a hot wok/pan starting with the ingredients that require the longest cook time to the least amount of cook time
This is perfect for a weeknight meal, potluck, large family meal, or weekend meal prep.
Let me know how you like celery in your fried rice! I hope you love it as much as I do.
Happy cooking! ~ Cin
Please give this recipe a star rating below and leave a comment. I would appreciate it so much and want to hear from you! Don’t forget to tag a photo on Instagram with #thesoundofcooking or @thesoundofcooking. I would love to see what you come up with!
Disclosure: The recipe below may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon
colorful vegetarian kimchi fried rice
- 3 cups medium grain white rice (or 9 cups of already cooked medium grain white/brown rice, chilled)
- 4 cups cold water or use the palm method shown in the video
- 8 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and 1/4 inch diced
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and 1/4 inch diced
- 3 stalks celery, 1/4 inch diced
- 1/4 head red cabbage, sliced and then 1/4 inch diced
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced (about 2 teaspoons minced)
- 1 medium shallot, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 cups vegetarian/vegan kimchi, drained (liquid reserved) and coarse chopped
cooking the fried rice
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon neutral oil
- 3 large eggs
cooking rice (if you already have leftover cold rice, finish vegetable prep and skip to cooking the fried rice)
- Rinse uncooked rice with cold water until water runs clear (about 3 times) and strain.
- In a medium saucepan (3-quart), add rinsed rice and smooth down the top surface. Place your palm, faced down on rice and fill with cold water until the water level covers your fingers, right below the knuckles (about 4 cups cold water).
- Stir and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then immediately cover and turn down heat to simmer over low heat. Simmer for 18 minutes, remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, wash and prepare vegetables as listed in the ingredients prep list above and set aside.
chilling the rice
- Spread cooked rice evenly on a parchment paper-lined small sheet tray. Create diagonal lines in the rice using the side of a spatula to allow quicker cooling. Chill in the refrigerator until all your prep is ready. You can chill for 5 - 10 minutes in the freezer if all your ingredients are ready to go.
cooking the fried rice
- Measure out the seasoning ingredients separately and have them ready by the stove.
- Heat a large 12-inch non-stick pan (or seasoned wok) over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil followed by diced shiitake mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to brown, add diced carrots and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring.
- Season with 1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce, stir, and add celery, cabbage, ginger, ground black pepper, and chopped kimchi. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before adding garlic. Stir and deglaze with rice cooking wine.
- Create a pocket in the middle of the pan. Add another 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil in the center. Add chilled rice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and stir everything together well, breaking up clumps with a spatula as you mix.
- Flatten the fried rice mixture throughout to allow the bottom to toast. Stir in reserved kimchi liquid, turn off heat and stir in minced cilantro.
cooking sunny-side up eggs (optional)
- Heat a small non-stick pan on low heat. Add ¼ teaspoon vegetable oil, and 3 eggs separately into the pan. Cook the eggs on low heat until egg whites are mostly cooked (translucent to white), cover for 1 minute or until desired doneness. Serve over fried rice.
the sound of cooking video
I usually eat this dish by itself as a complete meal, but it would also work well as a side dish to some sautéed vegetables.
- sweet and savory sautéed green beans
- korean pumpkin porrdige (hobakjuk)
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- stir-fried watercress by the woks of life
You can drink this soothing ginger lemon honey tea during or after your satisfying meal.
Want to make your own kimchi? Try this vegan kimchi by the frayed apron.