Best Eaten Alone with No Pants
April 28, 2016 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Do you like Spam and Kimchi? So does J. Kenji López-Alt. Anthony Bourdain and Anderson Cooper like it too.
posted by valkane (52 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kimchi is also great on pizza.
posted by Nelson at 5:48 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh lord yes.
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:55 PM on April 28, 2016




Who opens spam with a can opener? Super weird.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:22 PM on April 28, 2016


I'm vegetarian so I don't eat spam (is there a vegetarian version of spam? I'm kind of afraid if there is) but Lopez-Alt's writeup of that is so wonderful it almost makes me wish I did.

He tends to get the balance between what food is and what food means. I love his approach to food so much. It's much like my own (despite I don't eat meat and such. I do love his Vegan Experience posts, though).
posted by darksong at 6:41 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's nice that people like kimchi now. Maybe they'll stop using it as a replacement for feces in when throwing things into fans.
posted by qcubed at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seattle has a mini-chain of restaurants that specializes in spam-kimchee fried rice - it started with a food truck, then branched out to "fast casual" type places and now has a few fancier sit-down restaurants. Anyway, it's one of the most popular dining establishments in the city and has pretty much normalized spam and kimchee fried rice (as well as a bunch of other Hawaiian specialties) for Seattle diners. Which is great, because kimchee fried rice is amazing.
posted by lunasol at 6:47 PM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I do like some fried spam, but man does it stank up my kitchen.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:49 PM on April 28, 2016


Spam, kimchi, and eggs is the thing. It's a bit like huevos rancheros only not.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:16 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Big and Littles (chicago) serves KimchI fries soo amzing.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:21 PM on April 28, 2016


@lunasol - Marination SPAM sliders are great, but the kimchi fried rice is amazing.
posted by taterpie at 7:24 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kimchee mac-and-cheese.

That's all you need to know.
posted by petrilli at 7:56 PM on April 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I'd like to try this, but after seeing the cooks in the Chinese restaurants with their pedal-driven afterburners I don't think I'll ever try fried rice again.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:58 PM on April 28, 2016


Kimchi fried rice is great, but its better without the spam IMO.
posted by thefoxgod at 8:07 PM on April 28, 2016


Yeah! It's also great chopped up on quinoa, or over fries with bulgogi like a Korean poutine.
posted by a halcyon day at 8:23 PM on April 28, 2016


Yeah, I'd like to try this, but after seeing the cooks in the Chinese restaurants with their pedal-driven afterburners I don't think I'll ever try fried rice again.

Kimchi is not traditionally part of Chinese cuisine, but Korean.

J Kenji Lopez-Alt has Japanese heritage.

So pedal-driven afterburners should not be a concern.

Not knowing the difference, on the other hand, between Chinese and other Asian cuisines and cultures...
posted by qcubed at 8:26 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm making kimchi right now, if it doesn't kill me I know what to do with it.
posted by Ferreous at 8:31 PM on April 28, 2016


Wait...where might one buy a pedal-driven afterburner?


Asking for a friend.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:39 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love SeriousEats recipes, but they tend to be too complicated for me to make regularly, or even for company given other tasks such as house cleaning that must be accomplished . This recipe is pretty simple though, wish they had more like this.
posted by sid at 8:42 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Kimchi fried rice is great, but its better without the spam IMO.

I read this and wondered what it would like with diced Pancetta
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 PM on April 28, 2016


It'd probably work pretty well--kimchi's got a strong flavor, sure, with spice and the fermented slight sour, but if you pair it with something with a similarly strong flavor that's savory or sweet-savory it works fantastically.
posted by qcubed at 8:48 PM on April 28, 2016


I live in Hawaii. Virtually every takeout joint has kimchi fried rice (for when you're too lazy to make almost literally the easiest thing possible to make -- you don't even have to worry about not burning rice). Usually it contains spam. It's glorious.
posted by deadbilly at 8:50 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


My current favorite breakfast is steamed brown & black rice with kimchi, tuna, chili garlic sauce, and mayonnaise. No frying involved. I'm lazy in the morning, and I like my kimchi uncooked.

I just had rice with kimchi and chicken (and mayo and sriracha) for dinner. Not as good as tuna. Spam, I can't even. Though if I could otherwise stand Spam I'm sure it would be lovely. The addition of mayo to the concoction was inspired by Hawaiian macaroni salad. So good.
posted by monopas at 9:28 PM on April 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh wow, I've never had this, but I love Spam and kimchi separately, so it's not hard to imagine them being beautiful together.
posted by teponaztli at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2016


Wait...where might one buy a pedal-driven afterburner?

Apparently not Korea, you culturally-insensitive bastard.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:45 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


... almost literally the easiest thing possible to make ...

Even easier, cooked rice heated with butter in the microwave and topped with chopped kimchee.
posted by Bruce H. at 10:00 PM on April 28, 2016


I'm vegetarian so I don't eat spam (is there a vegetarian version of spam? I'm kind of afraid if there is) but Lopez-Alt's writeup of that is so wonderful it almost makes me wish I did.

Kimchi fried rice is great, but its better without the spam IMO.

Yes, darksong, don't worry about the Spam; vegetarian kimchi fried rice is delicious all on its own. Although, and I don't mean to burst your bubble here, a lot of times kimchi is made with fish sauce and/or shrimp paste so it may or may not be vegetarian. Definitely OK if you're pescatarian.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 10:07 PM on April 28, 2016


I wouldn't assume that the plate of kimchi among the banchan at a (non-vegetarian) restaurant is vegetarian, or that an American supermarket would carry more than maybe one or two varieties of kimchi (and likely with fish as an ingredient), but vegetarian kimchi can be found at pretty much any Korean market.
posted by Krom Tatman at 10:23 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ah man I miss me some budae jjigae, that always made for the best hangover cure during my time in Korea.
posted by charlemangy at 10:26 PM on April 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Wait...where might one buy a pedal-driven afterburner?

There's an Indian restaurant here that delivers via bicycle. They always ask if you realise the vindaloo is spicy.
posted by adept256 at 10:45 PM on April 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


darksong, non-western vegan fake-ham is fairly decent in that nice gone-wrong-thing sort of way. there is nothing produced by European or NA/US companies that even comes anywhere near. it tastes closer to ham but the texture is processed closer to spam, but not really greasy at all. also it is entirely unlike either of those meat products. makes a surprisingly good fake-cubano, eggs benedict, banh mi, &c. but does take some learning to cook without drying out, and moderate addition of fat. the standard flavor is a very mild 5-spice, which works pretty well. cubed and crisped with $RANDOM_OIL, yes it is great in kimchi fried rice.
posted by dorian at 12:44 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love kimchi so much that I cannot understand why you would want to dilute it with rice or spam. Straight out of its package, with as much juice and gunk as possible stuck on it, straight into my mouth.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:27 AM on April 29, 2016


the problem of new age, trendy, hip kid, restaurant spam, is that most don't take advantage of all of the sugar in the meat product. my mom knew that caramelizing the outside is key.
posted by [tk] at 4:18 AM on April 29, 2016


"pedal-driven afterburners"

Please, no kidding, what does this mean?
posted by Chitownfats at 5:17 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kimchi is great, but you know what's even greater? Kkakdugi (kakuteki in Japanese). All the same sweet and spicy and garlicky of kimchi, but you use daikon instead of cabbage, so kkakdugi has a really pleasing crunchy texture. Kimchi can be overly soft and unappealing, texture-wise.

Spam is my guilty pleasure. In small servings, Spam is quite awesome. Don't think I've eaten it with kimchi though.
posted by zardoz at 5:37 AM on April 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


I love SeriousEats recipes, but they tend to be too complicated for me to make regularly, or even for company given other tasks such as house cleaning that must be accomplished . This recipe is pretty simple though, wish they had more like this.

Seconded. sid - you could head over to /r/askculinary (one of the better bits of Reddit) and get in touch, Kenji is active there.

It's time to rock out with your wok out, or maybe chow down with your pants down.

Kenji's goin all Chef John on us! Incidentally Food Wishes has decent recipes at about the same complexity level as this Serious Eats one.
posted by iffthen at 5:43 AM on April 29, 2016


Yay for kimchi! Cucumber kimchi! Turnip kimchi! The usual kimchi!
Seriously, my korean friends have been a godsend to my culinary life.

(Also, milanesas with tteokbokki are godly. You should all try that.)
posted by _Synesthesia_ at 6:33 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The two closest Asian restaurants to me are a Japanese - Italian one run by a Korean couple and a Thai one run by a Chinese family. No word on afterburners.
posted by Bee'sWing at 7:01 AM on April 29, 2016


This seems like a good use for my new wok!
There is basically no limit to my love for Kenji Lopez-Alt. He approaches food in a way that perfectly matches how I like to learn about cooking, and his new book instantly became my favorite cookbook. I believe he just won a James Beard award for it a couple of days ago.
I've only had spam once, on a ten day backpacking trip when I was 18, which means my body needed a sodium bomb and it was the best thing I ate that year.
With Chris Kimball leaving America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated, Kenji is the rightful heir in my opinion but since he and his wife moved west I doubt he's considering it. If memory serves, he worked in that kitchen for a bit. ATK's New Best Recipes cookbook was massively influential on my cooking development and remains one of my go-to texts.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 7:02 AM on April 29, 2016


What exactly would you call vegan Spam? Slam? Svam? Scam?
posted by jonmc at 7:25 AM on April 29, 2016


Spofu.
posted by Night_owl at 7:35 AM on April 29, 2016



"pedal-driven afterburners"

Please, no kidding, what does this mean?
posted by Chitownfats at 5:17 AM on April 29 [+] [!]


Many Chinese restaurant kitchens have a knee activated button on the lower half of the stove that when hit turns the wok burner from immolate to F16 on full afterburner. See here (Youtube)
posted by Keith Talent at 7:36 AM on April 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I once cooked Spam for a roommate for breakfast. He took a look at it and said, "I'm not eating that. It's poor people food." I said, "But I grew up eating it . . . " and then I realized he'd just slandered my entire upbringing.

PS: Second best thing to eating kimchee is drinking the liquid left in the bottle.
posted by Quaversalis at 8:16 AM on April 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Worth noting that Spams place in Korean cooking (budae jiggae aka soldier soup, etc) is from period of scarcity and privation during/following the Korean War.
posted by Iteki at 8:27 AM on April 29, 2016


Kenji is the rightful heir in my opinion but since he and his wife moved west I doubt he's considering it

I think he's making his own legacy just fine. If I read between the lines correctly, he did not leave CI/ATK without some bridges burning, and of course now we know it's not Chris who's the bridgemaster, it's Jack. But I think he's doing a different thing and doing it well and he's plenty young, there's time for him to build his own empire.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:31 AM on April 29, 2016


Is there a good way to tell or ask whether kimchi has been made with fish sauce or shrimp paste?
I like kimchi and I would eat it more if wasn't always kind of afraid that it is hiding secret fishy bits.
posted by rmless at 8:58 AM on April 29, 2016


I find that the vegetarian/vegan versions will be clearly labeled for the non-omni kimchi fans among us. I also like making my own. We have a giant homemade jar in the fridge right now!
posted by Kitteh at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


In general with East Asian food (at least Japanese and Korean), if its not explicitly labelled vegetarian its probably not. And even if it is, it might not be (at least when talking about food in or directly from said countries, food prepared in America is probably more accurate). While it probably won't contain like chunks of meat, people forget about things like fish oil or dashi or whatever because there's no common tradition of vegetarianism and they just don't think about it (also happens in parts of America with few-to-no vegetarians, for example). So if you're concerned about any amount of fish/meat/etc its probably safer to go to a vegetarian-friendly store that has kimchi (I'd guess some place like Whole Foods would have a veggie kimchi?).
posted by thefoxgod at 2:58 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Korean stores will have vegetarian kimchi. While a lot of Korean cooking includes fish and vegetarianism is uncommon, there is a substantial enough (and growing, I suspect) minority of Koreans and Korean Americans who are strictly vegetarian (including stricter observers of 7th Day Adventism and some-though-not-most Korean Buddhists, as well as those who adopt it for animal welfare or environmentalist reasons), plus the growing popularity of kimchi has expanded the market. Chongga is one widely available brand.

tldr you don't have to go to whole foods
posted by Krom Tatman at 4:09 PM on April 29, 2016


Yeah, my experience trying to find Korean vegetarian food in the US is at least 5-10 years out of date so things may have improved some, especially in the Korean-American community. When I had discussions about vegetarianism/veganism in Korea I found a lot of misunderstanding, but I'm also comparing that to SF/LA which is basically vegetarian HQ in the US.
posted by thefoxgod at 4:15 PM on April 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


WHY KOREANS LOVE SPAM
This may or may not be true as I'd heard this from my father, though over the years the things he's told me that've been questionable or embellished have turned out to be true (eg: me being a Medicaid baby, born at dawn with him crying looking out at the sunrise, not because he was proud but because he worried about whether he could afford me: myeah, he's got the paperwork and Medicaid cards in a photo album), but here's what he told me when I gave a "GRODY!" face when served Spam and rice at an age when I was trying to be more cultured and refined and not so Korean:

"You always liked Spam."
I hate it now, Dad.
"Come on, I made it for you. What are you going to eat?"
I DON'T! WANT! SPAM! DAD!
(Here he started to tear up.)
"But... Spam is the meat of my people."

Actually, he was tearing up because he's a terrible cook and was living by himself, and it's pretty much the best he could do. But he's a typical Korean male, and as he's wont to do, he deflects display of emotion with words and story.

See, he says, he grew up loving Spam. His family, his town, and all of Korea was poor after the Korean War. The kids would chase after the American GIs, who'd offer up their rations, which would include tins of Spam. They were so generous and he had such fond memories of eating Spam, rice, and kimchi.

So I ate what he cooked and loved it. Also, I wouldn't have to hear the story that typically followed, where he talked about Koreans, being so poor, hanging dried fish from a window or doorsill and looking at it while eating rice. You know, for mental flavor.

Hell, I've always loved Spam and rice. After high school, it was difficult to find kimchi, so I ate Spam and rice, and tried to bring kimchi and gim (what you might recognize as seaweed/nori/laver) whenever I visited home. But one can never have enough, and that shit is dangerous to ship: having learned about the concept of "care packages," he sent me an oversized box filled with ramen, new-fangled udon which is meant to be refrigerated, gim, and kimchi. By post. The postal service tracked me down, told me I had a package to pick up. It was outside the back of the post office. The box was buckled, an edge was moist, the udon packages were bloated, kimchi juice had seeped out of the lid and it smelled like... Ok, you know how people talk about how something smelled like something else died? I know that smell. Of death, I mean. And anaerobic bacteria. The smell coming from the box can only be conceptualized as Fermented Death Cabbage. Worst smell second only to what I imagine earwax smells like.

Anyway, I know that Spam is popular in many cultures. And it clearly must still sell well, as grocery stores I've visited always seem to have a lot of Spam. Don't argue with me that it's because Spam keeps forever: I know Spam tins have had different means of being opened over time, and miss the old loop-key with which one would peel and roll a strip of canmetal.

So I don't know if my pop's story is true. About Spam, and his people, and American GIs. But us two Koreans sure love Spam.

J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT IS SORTA WRONG.
He's got a great way of writing, and that's a fine dish he makes. But it's all sorts of wrong. It's too fancy. By fancy I mean it's a little precious, takes too much effort, and gets away from the spirit of Spam, rice and kimchi. It's a little too hip. Like when David Chang talks about eating ramen raw with the seasoning packet. I was doing that shit when I was five, and taught a Dutchman the crush-in-a-bag, leave-no-MOOP-behind technique at Burning Man. Ok. Now I'm being a little too hip. Look: here's how to do Spam, rice and kimchi right:

INGREDIENTS:
- 1 Spam
- 1 rice
- 1 kimchi the food.

STEP 1: Pop top off Spam tin.
STEP 2: Slam that fucker upside-down onto any available flat surface near fire or source of heat.
STEP 3: Slice Spam with any knife or string or whatever, just under 1cm thick-ish.
STEP 4: Max heat to pan, fry Spam slices, flipping, until both sides JUST start to burn (what you fancy types call caramelization or Maillard reaction or whatever).
STEP 5: Microwave rice, peel off plastic top, slam that fucker upside-down onto a plate.
STEP 6: Place Spam slices and some kimchi the food next to cooked block of rice.

See? Easy. Six steps. 5 minutes, max, if you've got the ingredients. If you're trying to impress a date, you can use a fork to mash around the rice to make it look like you didn't just slam it onto the plate. You could also layer the Spam artfully, as you would with slices of brisket.

J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT IS ALSO SORTA RIGHT.
About the no pants thing, I mean. It's a meal best enjoyed without pants. Get home late after a night of drinking? Spam, rice and kimchi. Wake up in the middle of the night and over-sugared from Sausalitos? SRK. Got no dough and want a nutritious meal? SRK, and a multivitamin chaser.

No pants = comfort. No pants = a meditative mindstate for the meal to come. I wouldn't really recommend no underpants if you're a novice, however, as underpants will protect your junk from flying frying Spam splatter.

J. Kenji López-Alt is also right about the alone part: unless you have a very understanding partner, stripping off your pants with a hungry look in your eyes to make SRK may be misinterpreted by others as "prepare for sexytime." This might be ok. But then nakedly reaching for a tin of Spam is... probably not as ok. Subsequently opening a jar of kimchi is certain to put out any kindling of lust and thoughts of lovemaking, for sure.

Ask me how I know. Hah hah. I kid about this part, perhaps.
Wait: am I alone because of this, or am I alone for this?
posted by herrdoktor at 9:43 PM on April 29, 2016 [14 favorites]


Guys I realized I both kimchi and leftover ham and old cold rice in my fridge so I made this and it took 20minutes was eye watering oh good.

I started to sweat and also added crystal hot sauces. It was perfect.
posted by The Whelk at 6:19 PM on May 16, 2016 [4 favorites]


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