By Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant
The years of our coronavirus, 2020 and 2021, have been hard on us all—including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, targeted as scapegoats for the COVID-19 crisis from the start. Given the co-morbidity of disease and racial violence, from anti-Jewish pogroms during the Black Death to 19th century anti-Asian racism during the 1817 Cholera Pandemic, I am hardly surprised, yet nevertheless deeply disappointed and disturbed. As an AAPI-identified individual myself (Kanaka Maoli, Chinese, and Japanese on my mom’s side) I have alternated between seeking distractions and worrying for the safety of relatives, friends, and colleagues whose physical features are more frequently read as Asian by others. Reports of violence against our elders, our grandmothers and grandfathers, our culture bearers are sources of acute emotional pain.
In the midst of this fear and pain, I have found my greatest source of solace in creating and re-creating AAPI recipes—whether cooking comfort food from my childhood or learning to cook with ingredients my ancestors relied on as staple foods, the warmth of an active kitchen soothes me and makes it easier to ground and re-center myself. Spam fried rice falls into the former category, a dish that I grew up eating at home and have learned to make for myself as an adult. I do not have or use a recipe—I simply learned to make it while helping out in the family kitchen and have since re-created it countless times on my own. It is an excellent dish for using up spare ingredients and leftovers—just toss in whatever you’ve got, and think would taste good together, along with rice and any and all seasonings you prefer. So, in lieu of anything purporting to be a definitive recipe, here are instructions for cooking my latest riff on spam fried rice.
Spam Fried Rice with Kimchee
- 2 cups, rice
- 4 cups, chicken stock
- 1 – 2 cans of Spam
- 3 stalks, green onion
- 6 eggs
- Coconut oil
- Spices to taste
- White pepper
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Chinese Five Spice
- Measure rice into a pot and rinse with water once or twice before filling the pot with twice as much liquid as rice. You can either use measuring cups to ensure the correct amount of water or do as my mother taught me and touch the tip of your index finger to the top of the rice. When the water reaches your first knuckle, you have enough.
• Note: I used chicken stock and a bit of salt for added flavor, but plain water works perfectly well, too.
- Set the pot on the back burner of your stove on high until water begins to boil, then turn the heat down to simmer water and cover pot for half an hour, or, until the liquid in the pot has been absorbed completely by the rice.
• Note: If you have leftover rice, making fried rice is a great way to ensure it does not go to waste. If you have rice in the fridge, skip Steps 1 and 2 and simply keep your leftover rice ready.
- Take your spam and cut it into thin, narrow strips (or whichever type of cut you prefer—I’m not here to judge you). Heat a heavy pan with a generous dollop of coconut oil and toss the spam in to fry.
• Note: For best results, let the spam take its time so that the outside gets dark and crispy, and stir or toss occasionally to ensure even browning.
• Note: Coconut oil has a low melting temperature, so you want the stove on medium heat. Slow and steady will win the race, in this case.
- While the spam does its thing, begin preparing your other ingredients. Rinse and trim the green onion before chopping crosswise. Reserve the onion greens on your cutting board for garnish and toss the onion whites into the pan with the spam.
- Grab a generous handful of your favorite kimchee and leave whole or chop to desired size. If you chop the kimchee, then it will incorporate well with the rice. However, if you want more texture, then you can cut it into larger chunks or even leave the kimchee whole.
- Once your spam is fried to personal perfection and your rice is ready, toss the kimchee and rice into the pan with the spam and chopped onion whites. Crack six eggs over everything, then add spices according to your personal tastes.
• Note: In this most recent iteration, I used generous portions of salt, white pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, and Chinese Five Spice.
- Mix everything together so that the egg coats the rice and other ingredients as it cooks. When the egg is finished cooking, your fried rice is ready! Plate and garnish with green onion.
And that’s all there is to it! Spam fried rice is an excellent comfort food that can be a whole meal of its own, or a side dish paired with other recipes—such as the “island style” French toast casserole I made to go with it (recipe to follow in a later blog post). Lest I go on ad nauseum, singing the praises of spam, I will leave it at that and instead invite readers of this post to create and re-create their own fried rice dishes. What is your favorite way to make and eat fried rice? Share with us on Twitter or Instagram @LA_Autry or @TheAutry!
Images (Click image for details):
 Spam fried rice with kimchee, plated and garnished with green onion, sesame seeds, and soy sauce.
 Spam frying in a pan with a generous helping of melted coconut oil. Technically, you can eat spam straight from the can. It’s already cooked, so it won’t make you sick—just sad.
 Spices—garlic, ginger, Chinese five spice, salt, and white pepper powder. You can find Chinese five spice and white pepper in the aisles at pretty much any AAPI grocery store.
 Fried spam in a pan with kimchee. In the author’s humble opinion, thin rectangles are the best shape for frying spam—it maximizes the surface area for that oh so ono crispy goodness.