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.

Kimchi and Spam Bokkeumbap

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!

Kimchi and Spam Bokkeumbap

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.

Kimchi and Spam Bokkeumbap

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
2 eggs
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.

There was quite a big response to my previous Spam post that I thought I’d round up some of the different suggestions for Spam that you came up with!

  • The Gastronomer mentioned a loco moco made with Spam, foie gras, hamburger and rice at Animal in Los Angeles. I love this combo of high end and low end – like what the fashion magazines mean when they say to mix designer clothes with Primark!
  • Kat of Our Adventures in Japan suggests frying the slices with soy sauce and sugar first.
  • Ket shares an old family recipe: “one of my mum’s old recipe was to cut the luncheon meat into cubes, fries them till crispy all round and mix in with baked beans and boiled small cubes of potatoes. sprinkle of pepper and/or chilli powder and it’s a yummy dish with or without rice.”
  • The Food Pornographer is also a fan of Spam fried rice and Spam, egg and rice but you really ought to see how she incorporates Spam into her daily bentos. You can see all her Spammy meals here!
  • Liz tells of an eggy Spam bread she had as a child. Sandwich the Spam, dip both sides into beaten egg and then fry – it’s the love child of a Spam sandwich and French toast!
  • travelrat of Travelrat’s Travels lists some particularly exotic offerings: Spam risotto, chili con Spam, Spam rogan josh, Spam kebabs!
  • Helen of Food Stories suggests eating it straight from the tin!
  • Wait, I totally forgot to mention one of my most favourite ways to eat Spam – in a hotpot! How about a spicy Sichuan hotpot or a Korean budae jjigae? I blame the hot weather for making me forget about this great cold weather eating!

I’ve also come across other Spam posts in the blogosphere:

And finally, how could I forget this?

Check out this tin I picked up a little while ago:

Spam with Stinky French Garlic

It’s the limited edition, Spamalot themed tin of garlic Spam! The tin is an absolute riot, complete with Ye Olde English instructions on the side. Now what dish was going to showcase this baby to all its glory?

Immediately, I thought of a very simple preperation. Sliced and fried with a fried egg, all on white rice – it’s very similar to the kind of food you’d find in Hong Kong style cafes.

Spam, Egg and Rice

It looked awfully plain like this and so I sprinkled white pepper and drizzled sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) over it all (a la Mochachocolata-Rita). And it really hit the spot! The garlic wasn’t very strong but I did notice it was there.

Spam, Egg and Rice with White Pepper and Kecap Manis

Now don’t go turning your nose up at Spam – it’s not bad! I ate loads of it growing up and in our family, it was known as the rather innocent sounding luncheon meat. Usually it would turn up as part of our Sunday breakfast – crispy-edged fried slices accompanying a fried egg over easy. Sometimes we’d get Spam sandwiches as part of our packed lunch for school – again the fried slices but sandwiched between slices of white bread with a good schmear of sweet chili sauce. Sometimes I get cravings for these sandwiches!

It was only when I’d been in the UK for a few years before I got to try the infamous Spam fritter, that battered creation that fed a nation during the Second World War. I found it on the menu of a cafe in Shepherd’s Bush that looks like it hasn’t changed since the 1950’s. And I liked it! It was quite comforting, its salty meatiness pairing well with the bland mashed potatoes and boiled peas served on the side. And Spam is making a comeback now during the recession (though I’m not sure how swine flu has affected sales lately).

Anyway, Spam is great:

  • sliced, fried, and put into sandwiches.
  • in Spam musubi (though I’ve not tried it yet, but I can imagine it now!).
  • in kimbap.
  • on top of instant noodles.
  • chopped up and cooked into fried rice.
  • chopped up into omelettes.
  • in fritters.
  • sliced the other way and served like a square burger.

Right, that’s what I can think of off the top of my head – what can you add to this list?