Why It Works
- Greasing the pan with butter ensures the rice won't stick, and adds some welcome buttery flavor.
- Mixing the rice thoroughly with flavorful gochujang, soy sauce, and rice vinegar ensures even distribution of seasoning.
- Adding chopped kimchi on top toward the end keeps the funkiness of the kimchi relatively fresh and adds some much-needed acidity to the dish.
What happens when you have so much leftover rice that you get sick of fried rice? This dish is the answer to that question.
Made with leftover rice and a list of ingredients that keep forever in the fridge—like gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and kimchi—combined with a couple different varieties of cheese, this dish is easy to put together, cheap to make, and, most important, very good to eat.
The rice on the bottom of the cast iron pan gets crispy while the interior stays soft, the layers of melted cheese are gooey and stretchy, the top layer of rice dries and takes on a delightfully chewy character, and the chopped kimchi on top provides a much-needed hit of acidity and funk. Finally, the cheeses on top take on a bit of char under the broiler, so each bite packs a range of textures and flavors, all of them salty and good.
- 1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter, softened
- 4 cups cooked short-grain rice (see note)
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) gochujang
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) rice vinegar
- 4 thinly sliced scallions (~80g), white and green parts divided
- 3 ounces (85g) grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (see note), divided
- 2 ounces (57g) grated Gruyère cheese (see note), divided
- 5 ounces (141g) chopped drained kimchi (see note)
- 1 ounce (28g) grated Cotija cheese (see note)
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Grease a 10-inch cast iron pan with 1 tablespoon (15g) butter, making sure to fully cover both the bottom and the sides.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine rice, gochujang, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sliced scallion whites. Using a flexible spatula, mix thoroughly.
Scrape half of rice mixture into buttered cast iron skillet and, using the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup, press down firmly to create a single even layer of seasoned rice. Distribute half of the mozzarella and Gruyère over the layer of rice, then scrape the rest of the rice mixture over grated cheese. Using the bottom of a drinking glass or measuring cup, press down firmly to create an even top layer of seasoned rice. Transfer pan to oven and cook for 35 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Turn off oven and turn broiler on high. While broiler preheats, top rice with chopped kimchi. Distribute remaining Gruyère and mozzarella over kimchi and sprinkle Cotija over the other cheeses.
Place pan under broiler for about 2 minutes, or until Gruyère and mozzarella melt and bubble and Cotija begins to char in spots. Remove pan from under broiler, top with sliced scallion greens, and serve immediately.
This recipe was designed to use up leftover rice, but you can use freshly cooked rice, too, without altering the recipe. Short- or medium-grain rice is preferred, but any rice variety works.
While you can use a single type of kimchi, the dish is far more interesting if you use two or three varieties. Similarly, this recipe offers suggestions of types of cheeses to use, but any good melting cheese will work for the interior and on top, and most any hard cheese will work for the broiling step, too.
Make-Ahead and Storage
This recipe is best eaten immediately after being prepared.