Did you know that this week is Spam Appreciation Week? I have no idea how these food weeks are allocated but this was one I could get behind. My love of Spam is well documented and I know I’m not the only one! The very kind people at Spam UK got in touch with me through Twitter earlier this week and sent me a few cans as well as an apron and spatula and I’m starting to put those tins into good use.
As I also had a big tub of kimchi gifted to me by Sabrina (thank you!), I decided to combine the two to make a bokkeumbap, a Korean fried rice. There was a very good Korean restaurant down the road from where I live but they closed for a new start (so said the sign on the door) and they used to serve the most delicious fried rice, all oily and surprisingly tasty despite the few ingredients in it. It was this I had in mind, as well as a kimchi fried rice we had in Pacific Plaza, when I cooked this. While that version of kimchi bokkeumbap had fatty belly pork in it, I chose to use Spam; the tinned luncheon meat is very popular in Korea and its meaty saltiness pairs well with that spicy cuisine. And with kimchi – yum!
This really hit the spot a few nights ago – it’s fast (so long as you have the ingredients in the fridge, including cold cooked rice) and gorgeous and overall, is some serious comfort food. It’s best with older, stronger kimchi but the you could fry younger kimchi for longer to get more flavour. Do you like it spicier? – Add some gochujang or Korean chilli powder. If you don’t like fried eggs with liquid yolks (really?), you could cook the eggs before hand into scrambly bits to stir into the bokkeumbap near the end. Tweak it all you like as it’s quite adaptable; all fried rice is.
Before I share the recipe for kimchi and spam bokkeumbap, I just wanted to share another fried rice variation I learned about recently from Austin Bush’s blog. Khao phat Amerikan is a Thai American fried rice and I wonder if it is available outside Thailand. It’s fried rice with ketchup and raisins (?!) and is served with fried hot dogs, fried chicken and ham on the side. Quite often there are also fried croutons and a fried egg involved. From what I gather, some innovative cook took the elements of an American breakfast (not unlike a British fry up) and turned them into something a little more Thai. I can imagine fried Spam on the side of this too but strangely, I’m not that keen on recreating this at home. Serve me a kimchi and spam bokkeumbap anytime!
Kimchi and Spam Bokkeumbap
serves 2 regular eaters or 3 on a diet. Hmm.
3 tbsps sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small carrot, finely diced
200g of your favourite Spam, diced
1 cup chopped kimchi plus whatever kimchi juices you can salvage
cold, cooked rice for two (use Korean or Japanese rice…the slightly sticky short grain kind), about 700mL in volume
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tsp sesame oil
salt to taste
toasted sesame seeds
gim – Korean toasted seaweed (optional)
Prepare all your ingredients. Chop, dice, slice.
Heat a wok or large pot over medium heat and add the oil. Throw in the onion and carrot and saute under tender – about 5-10 minutes. Add the Spam and continue frying for another 2 minutes. Add the kimchi and continue frying. If you’re kimchi is quite fresh, fry for longer to deepen the flavours. If you’d like it a bit spicier, you can add a bit of gochujang at this stage. Pour in the kimchi juices. Break the rice up with your hands (get them wet to prevent it sticking too much) and then add it to the pan. Stir continuously, gently breaking up any lumps of rice. If needed, add a bit more oil… fried rice really does require more oil than you think! When it’s thoroughly combined and all hot, drizzle over the sesame oil, throw in the sliced spring onion and add salt to taste and continue frying and tossing for a couple more minutes to combine thoroughly. Take your fried rice, the bokkeumbap, off the heat.
Heat a frying pan, add a little oil and fry your eggs as you like them. Plate your bokkeumbap, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and top with an egg per serving and some gim. Serve.