Kimchi fried rice is one of the staples of Korean food. In fact, anything with kimchi is considered a must in the Korean diet. Kimchi jjigae, kimchi fried rice, cold noodles with kimchi are all frequently consumed in my house and with good reason...they are so good! Today I decided to take the classic comfort food of kimchi fried rice and take it to the next level. We are talking about fried kimchi balls people or more elegantly put, kimchi fried rice arancini. Imagine spicy fried rice with little bits of kimchi stuffed with gooey mozzarella, covered in panko, and fried to golden perfection. Dip the kimchi fried rice arancini in a scrumptious scallion lime aioli and you have one amazing appetizer (or snack, or lunch, or even dinner).
Kimchi Fried Rice Arancini
Kimchi fried rice
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ½ cup kimchi finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon kimchi juice
- 1 tablespoon gochujang
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 cups rice cooked, preferably one day old
- salt and pepper
- 3 eggs divided
- 1 ½ cup panko divided
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon gochugaru
- 3 ounce mozzarella cut into 12 small cubes
- oil for frying
Scallion lime aioli
- ¼ cup mayo
- 1 scallion chopped
- ½ teaspoon garlic chopped
- juice of ½ lime
- salt and pepper
- Prepare the kimchi fried rice. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped kimchi and saute until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Mix together the kimchi juice with gochujang and water. Add the rice to the pan, breaking up the rice with a spoon. Add the kimchi juice mix and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the kimchi fried rice to a baking sheet pan and let cool.
- Once the fried rice has cooled, mix with 1 egg, ½ cup panko, and ½ cup grated parmesan. Get the arancini station ready. Have one bowl with all-purpose flour, another bowl with the remaining 2 eggs beaten, and a third bowl with the remaining 1 cup panko. Season the panko with 1 teaspoon garlic salt and ½ teaspoon gochugaru.
- Using a small ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop a small ball of the kimchi fried rice mixture. Shape the rice into a ball. Make an indent in the center and place the mozzarella in the middle. Cover the mozzarella with the rice to make one ball. Lightly dredge in flour then dip in the egg. Carefully take the rice ball out of the egg and coat in the seasoned panko. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and continue with the remaining rice until 12 arancini are made.
- Heat frying oil to 350 degrees F.
- While the oil is heating, make the scallion lime aioli. Blend together the mayo with the remaining ingredients (scallions – juice of ½ a lime) until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add a couple of arancini to the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides, rotating the arancini as it cooks with a slotted spoon. Remove and drain on paper towel lined plates. Repeat with the remaining arancini. Serve hot with the scallion lime aioli.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
First things first, prepare the kimchi fried rice. The recipe for the rice is pretty basic as far as kimchi fried rice goes. I chose to make the arancini vegetarian but you can add meat such as spam, bulgogi, chicken, or pork belly. Just make sure to cut the meat into small chunks. You can also increase the amount of gochujang if you want these to be extra spicy.
Make the fried rice, season to perfection, then lay it out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. I promise you, this is the quickest way to cool the rice. You can also make the fried rice a couple of days before.
Once the rice has cooled, mix it with the binders: egg and panko. Set up the arancini station, gathering your bowls with all-purpose flour, egg, mozzarella, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Now it's time to get dirty and make these arancini! I like to use a small ice cream scoop but you can use a spoon or even just your hands. You want to get about 2 tablespoon of rice and form it into a ball. Make an indent in the center just big enough for the mozzarella. Place the mozzarella in the center then cover it up with the rice. Use your hands and shape the arancini into a ball.
Carefully coat the rice ball in flour, followed by the egg then the panko. Repeat with the remaining rice. Whenever I have to bread an item, I use one hand for coating the item in the dry ingredients and the other hand for the wet ingredients. In other words, use one hand to coat the arancini in flour and panko and the other hand for the egg. This way you won't end up with hands caked in a flour-egg panko mess.
While the oil is heating, stick the arancini in the freezer just to help it keep its shape when it's frying. Side note: you can make the arancini up to this step and freeze them until you are ready to fry them.
Take this time to also make the scallion lime butter, which can also be made in advance. Simply blend together the ingredients until smooth and season with salt and pepper.
Fry the arancini in batches to avoid overcrowding the fryer and letting the oil drop its temperature too quickly. Flip the balls while they are cooking to get an even golden color on all the sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and repeat with the remaining arancini.
Just like any other fried food, this kimchi fried rice arancini waits for no one so dig in while they are hot! Dip them in the savory limey scallion dip and bite into that cheesy goodness. You really can't go wrong with arancini and this kimchi fried rice version is no exception. Spicy, savory, cheesy goodness all in one bite!
For more Korean food inspiration, check out this omurice with kimchi fried rice!