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Easy Spam Fried Rice

Hello and Welcome! Last week on Instagram, I posted a story featuring a can of Spam with a poll in which I asked the question, “Hell Yeah” or “Not a Chance.” And I was surprised that 65% of responses were “Not a Chance.” Which is interesting, I suppose it’s a generational thing. In the 2010’s, Spam began appearing in dishes at upscale NY and California restaurants; with chefs like Roy Choi serving up Spam Musubi at his LA restaurant. But for folks in mainland America who grew up with Spam, not as an ingredient, but as the main protein on their plate, it might take more than high brow/low brow dishes to get them to think of Spam in a good way. Spam Fried Rice is a good way to start.

Spam Fried Rice

Spam as an Ingredient

In places like Hawaii and Guam, Spam is a common ingredient. Alex requested this dish as it was something he had when he was growing up in Guam. To me, Spam is like bologna, a hot dog, or Taylor Ham. And when it’s diced up and fried to get a crispy edge, it’s a delicious little protein pack of flavor. If you have mixed feelings about Spam, Spam Fried Rice is a great entry point to using Spam as an ingredient.

Spam Fried Rice ingredients

To begin, sauté the onions in a neutral oil, like grapeseed over medium heat until the onions are translucent. Then add the diced Spam, add a little more oil if necessary. Sauté the Spam and onions until the spam gets some nice browning and crispy edges. Then add the garlic and the ginger, cook for about 2 more minutes.

Frying Spam and onions

Then we will add the frozen veggies. You can use whichever blend of veggies you like. I am partial to this mix of green beans, peas, carrots and corn because they are colorful and add texture variety.

The Rice

Day old rice is your best bet for getting your fried rice to crisp up. But you can use fresh rice, just make it 1-2 hours ahead of time, then spread the rice out on a parchment-lined cooling rack and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. I tried it for this recipe and it worked out pretty well.

Adding Rice to Spam Fried Rice

Add the rice and stir well to combine it with the veggies. Then add the soy sauce, a dash of fish sauce and a couple dashes of sesame oil. Keep stirring and cooking for about 3 minutes.

Spam Fried Rice

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Then, push everything to one side of the pan and slowly, while stirring, pour in the beaten eggs. Some of the egg will run into the mixture and that’s totally fine. Just keep stirring the eggs to scramble them.

Once the eggs are mostly cooked and scrambled, stir them into the fried rice mixture.

A Little Spam History

In 1937, The Hormel Company introduced Spam. The canned, shelf-stable meat was popular with housewives across America. When it was sent to troops in Europe and the Asian Pacific in WWII, it went international. Many troops complained of having to eat it for every meal, everyday and upon their return home, refused to to eat it. Thus the shift in Spam’s reputation in mainland America, and it fell out of favor in the 1960’s.

Interestingly, the rise of Spam’s use in Hawaii grew during WWII, because of the sanctions mainland America placed on Japanese Americans. To avoid economic collapse in Hawaii, Japanese Americans were not interned, as was done on the mainland. Instead, sanctions on the deep-sea fishing industry (mostly run by Japanese Americans) were put into place. Spam was a stable, affordable protein in place of fish.

At the end of WWII, people in Korea and Japan were at the point of starvation and the cans of Spam they received as rations were viewed as a lifesaver. When American troops returned for the Korean War, recipes that incorporated Spam like the popular hot pot dish, budae jjigae (translation: Army Stew) would become a staple.

Over time, the food culture in Hawaii would evolve to combine the tastes and preferences of its Korean and Japanese immigrants. Popular dishes like Spam Musubi (a Hawaiian version of onigiri), Loco Moco (rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg, gravy and often, Spam), and Spam Fried Rice became part of Hawaiian cuisine.

Spam Fried Rice

Get on the Spam Train!

Well, friends I hope you make Spam Fried Rice! If you’re a Spam-lover already, this one is easy-peasy. If you’re in the “Not a Chance” group, I urge you to be adventurous! While the shape of the can might be a little weird, Spam itself is not unlike hot dogs, or bologna. Give it a try. I actually have a strong craving for Spam Musubi now…If you’re not quite on the Spam train with me yet, but want some fried rice, try my Crispy Rice Bowl. Let me know your feelings about Spam, reach out Instagram or facebook!

Spam Fried Rice

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Dinner, Main Course American/Asian
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 20 Minutes

Spam, Spam, Spam! Fried Spam with plenty of veggies and crispy fried rice. This is an easy, economical dish that is filling and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. Grapeseed Oil (canola or olive oil)
  • 2 oz. Spam, diced
  • 1/2 cup Onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 16-oz. bag Frozen Vegetables
  • 3 cups Cooked Rice
  • 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 dash Red Boat Fish Sauce
  • 2 dashes Sesame Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs, beaten
  • Tabasco or Sriracha, optional
  • Cilantro, optional garnish

Instructions

1

Sauté the onions in the oil, over medium heat until the onions are translucent. About 2 minutes.

2

Add the diced Spam, add a little more oil if necessary. Sauté the Spam and onions until the spam gets some nice browning and crispy edges, about 5 minutes.

3

Then add the garlic and the ginger, cook for about 2 more minutes.

4

Add the frozen veggies and stir well to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes.

5

Add the rice and stir well to combine it with the veggies and Spam.

6

Then add the soy sauce, a dash of fish sauce and a couple dashes of sesame oil. Keep stirring and cooking for about 3 minutes.

7

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Then, push everything to one side of the pan and slowly, while stirring, pour in the beaten eggs. Some of the egg will run into the mixture and that's totally fine. Just keep stirring the eggs to scramble them, about 2-3 minutes.

8

Once the eggs are mostly cooked and scrambled, stir them into the fried rice mixture.

9

Serve and top with cilantro and hot sauce.

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  • Sylvia Espinoza
    March 10, 2021 at 9:39 am

    Fantastic history lesson on SPAM! I never knew it until today. Thanks! And thanks also for the tip on cooling off same-day rice to ready it for fried rice dishes. You’re amazing! May experiment with this one for hubby 🙂 Hugs~

    • Kelly Djalali
      March 10, 2021 at 9:47 am

      Hi Sylvia! I am so excited for you to try this one! I bet your husband will like it. I found the history of Spam to be quite interesting. It’s funny how foods or ingredients can be like fashion, falling in and out of favor through the generations. Thanks so much for your comment and your positive outlook on Spam! Have a great day, xo Kelly

  • Suzanne Smith
    March 10, 2021 at 10:03 am

    I have a feeling Monty Python’s mocking skits on Spam didn’t help its reputation too much either! Interesting! I never knew Hawaii’s impact on Spam! It sounds intriguing. I haven’t had Spam in years and years. I always liked Taylor pork roll, which I haven’t thought about in years, but your post made me remember it. I had it once fried up on a sandwich at the NY World’s fair. My guy would love Spam, I know. It was never a big fave for me, but I could see it cooked like this, in a fried rice mix. Great post. Brought back lots of memories and made me smile.

    • Kelly Djalali
      March 10, 2021 at 10:15 am

      Hello Suzanne! Yes, I agree about Monty Python! Being from the West Coast we didn’t see Taylor pork rolls, but fried hot dog sandwiches were one of my favorite after school snacks. I do like the fried Taylor pork roll sandwich though, so good! I admit that a thick slice of Spam on its own doesn’t sound that appetizing, but mixed into eggs, or fried rice…or my favorite, Spam Musubi, it’s really delicious! Thanks for sharing your Taylor Pork Roll memory! Have a wonderful day, xo Kelly