This is your mother’s Spam.
Generations of us who grew up in the ’70’s will have stories about how their moms or dads fixed Spam.
I don’t pretend that my taste buds are that fancy and advanced. Puh-lease, I like Cheetos and Swedish Fish, oh fill my gullet with ’em!
So I am happy to share this recipe for Spam kimbap. Kinda the way my mom made them.
I read a thesis paper recently about the Korean-American relationship with the “authenticity” of Korean food (I am slightly obsessed with it). According to the author, we are somewhat misguided about it having picked up bad Western stereotypes––well, we did grow up in the West.
The author brings up Korean women who married white army guys and could no longer make Korean food because of their new husbands’ bias against it. Basically, they couldn’t stand the smell of kimchi. But they were probably happy to shove their craw with Spam.
During the War, the American Military shipped in all kinds of processed crap for their soldiers to eat. And guess what? This shit found its way into the hands of starving Koreans (if they were lucky). I bet my mom and dad had their fair share. That’s probably why it found its way into our kitchen pantry.
How authentic is Spam? Certainly its pedigree is American, but Koreans have found a way to fuse it into their cuisine over the years, mostly due to necessity in the beginning. But Spam’s extended shelf life has become a thing of nostalgic lore. You can find it in gift baskets and in the awe-inspiring, high-blood-pressure inducing ‘army stew’, a nostalgic compilation of Spam, bologna, hot dog, ramen noodle, rice cake, and processed cheese.
Stick with the kimbap if you don’t want to have a heart attack.
roasted seaweed sheets
sushi rice, cooked and cooled
Spam, sliced in strips
cucumber, long strips
sushi rolling mat
- On your rolling mat, place a seaweed sheet and spread about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cooled rice. Place your Spam, egg, and cucumber strips at the edge of the sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Start rolling the seaweed sheet and mat at the very edge. Try to keep the filling from getting shifted too much.
- Slice your roll with a serrated-edged knife. Moisten the knife with a little water to prevent sticking.
- Serve with soy sauce.
*For the egg strips, beat one or two eggs with a little water and a good pinch of salt. Or you can add a spoonful of salted shrimp. Heat a big frying pan, add enough oil to coat and when the oil is hot enough, pour in the egg mixture. Spread it around the pan and cook until done. Flip onto a plate, cool and slice into strips.