When Chef Dale Talde came to the BuzzFeed test kitchen to make breakfast, he made so much of his Kimchi and Spam Fried Rice that the food team could eat it for breakfast and lunch and dinner. And therefore it was a very, very good day.
Talde is known for making food that's not just delicious but downright craveable. He's probably even better known for being a contestant on season four of Top Chef and later on Top Chef: All-Stars. But really, that's just the tip of the iceberg. His three restaurants—Talde, Pork Slope, and Thistle Hill Tavern, all in Brooklyn, NY — serve food that is well conceived and well cooked, without being pretentious. He's also got two Jersey City restaurants coming soon, Talde Jersey City and Carrino Provisions.
So, what inspired this fried rice? "I'm just predisposed to loving Spam," Talde says. "It is a major protein in the Philippines." And while he doesn't serve Spam at his restaurants (because actually, Spam is EXPENSIVE these days), his cooking is heavily influenced by his upbringing as a first-generation American with parents born in the Philippines. He cooks Asian food with a decidedly Middle American twist.
This dish is not a traditional fried rice. "Kimchi Fried Rice is not like a fried rice that we'd normally make at the restaurant," Talde says. "Because of how much liquid the kimchi has, it never gets that breath of the wok or the char on it. So it's more like a rice stir-fry." And of course, there's the Spam.
This is chef's limited edition gold Gray Kunz spoon. It, too, was integral in the making of this fried rice.
Here is everything you'll need to make Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice that serves four people:
Chef also used fish sauce, but it's optional.
1. First, you need to make your rice. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of uncooked jasmine rice.
2. Cover the rice with cold water, then drain it through a fine mesh strainer (or just use your hand, like chef did).
Always rinse your rice! "There's a starch on rice," chef says. "It'll throw your proportion off, with the water, if you don't rinse it off… And, the way rice is handled a lot of the time, you just wanna wash it."
3. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water to the rinsed rice.
Bring the rice to a boil over high heat, then immediately turn the heat AS LOW AS IT WILL GO, cover the pot, and let the rice cook for exactly 23 minutes.
4. After 23 minutes, turn off the heat but DO NOT UNCOVER THE POT. Let the pot sit, covered, for another 10 minutes.
5. After 10 minutes, uncover the pot and use a fork to fluff the rice.
Never uncover your rice right away. "You never lift the lid up when you make rice," chef says. "Even in a rice cooker. After it's done, you let it go for like 10 minutes without lifting the lid." Letting the rice rest, covered and off the heat, gives all the moisture a chance to settle, so that the rice on the bottom is just as fluffy as the rice on the top.
6. Now, crack open your can of Spam.
7. Cut the Spam into 1/2-inch cubes.
8. Cut the root end off of an onion, then halve it lengthwise (from root to tip) and peel the skin off.
9. Chef chops onions in a nonconventional but interesting way. First, lay an onion half cut side-down, and slice it crosswise like this:
10. Turn the onion 90 degrees, so that the root end is facing you, then position your knife at a 45 degree angle with the cutting board and slice diagonally down into the center of the onion, working all the way around, following the ridges of the onion.
Hold your knife at a 45 degree angle, and know where to make your diagonal cuts. "You've got to follow the ridges. Follow the curve of the onion, and then the dice works," chef says.
11. Next, slice the bunch of scallions (greens and whites) into pieces about 1/4-inch thick.
12. Peel and mince your garlic. Chef crushes his garlic before he minces, just so that it lays flat and is easier to cut.
13. Spoon the kimchi out of its jar, leaving most of the liquid behind. Then, slice it into thin strips.
Now that all of the ingredients are prepped, it's time to start cooking!
14. Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.
15. Crack 2 eggs into a bowl, then whisk them together until they're thoroughly beaten and the whites and yolks are combined.
16. Pour the eggs into the skillet.
17. Use a spoon or spatula to move the eggs around the pan constantly, until they're cooked but not browned. It should take about 30 seconds.
18. As soon as the eggs are cooked, take them out of the skillet and set them aside on the plate.
When making fried rice, ALWAYS do the egg first.
"If you put eggs in a pan first, nothing will stick to the pan [afterwards as you cook]," chef says. We skeptically asked chef why this was true. "I dunno man. I've been working in Chinese restaurants for how long, and every time you make fried rice it's like, "start with egg, or else it's gonna stick." And I'm like, 'yeah, bullshit." So then I didn't do it one time and I'm like, 'WHAT THE FUCK!?' All the rice stuck to the fuckin' wok."
19. Heat the remaining tablespoon of canola oil in the skillet over high heat, then add the Spam.
20. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until the Spam has started to brown on all sides, about 3 minutes.
21. Add the onions and garlic.
22. Cook, stirring often, until the onion starts to soften, about 2 minutes.
23. Add the teaspoon of sesame oil and a large pinch of red chili flakes.
24. Then add the kimchi and a tablespoon of unsalted butter. The butter is VERY important. Chef says that the magic of this dish is in sautéeing the kimchi with butter.
25. Toss everything together, and let everything cook for about a minute.
26. Add about 1/3 cup of the kimchi liquid. This will flavor your dish but also help to deglaze the pan.
27. Stir. Make sure it's not liquid-y. If it is, you added a little too much kimchi liquid. Which is OK, just let it cook for a minute or so, to evaporate the liquid.
28. Add the rice!
29. Mix everything together a little bit.
30. Add the cooked egg.
31. Stir, so that the rice is evenly coated with all the awesomeness in that pan.
32. Add the sliced scallions.
33. Stir again. Remember, your flame is on high this whole time.
34. Add fish sauce, if you want.
35. Now, turn your flame down low, just to keep the rice warm while you fry the eggs.
36. To cook your eggs, heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat.
37. Crack all four eggs into the pan. Try to keep them separate, but it's OK if the whites touch a little bit. Season with salt and pepper.
38. Let the eggs cook over medium-low heat until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about 4 minutes.
39. To serve, divide the rice evenly among four plates or bowls, and top each with a fried egg.
Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice
Recipe by Dale Talde
For the fried rice:
1 1/2 cups white jasmine rice, uncooked
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 12-ounce container Spam, diced in 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, diced in 1/4-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup Kimchi, strained, thinly sliced, liquid reserved
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 bunch scallions, sliced in 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon Korean chili flakes (red pepper flake can be substituted)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional)
For the fried eggs:
1 tablespoon butter
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the fried rice:
1. To make the rice: First, rinse the rice by pouring it into a medium pot or bowl, covering it with cold water, then draining it in a fine mesh strainer, shaking the rice to get as much water off as possible. Then, in a medium sauce pot, combine the 2 cups of rice with 2 cups of cold water. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat all the way down to low, cover, and let the rice cook, covered, for 23 minutes. Then, turn the heat off but DO NOT UNCOVER THE RICE. Let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, uncover it, fluff it with a fork, and set it aside in the pot while you prepare the other fried rice ingredients.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. While the oil heats, crack the 2 eggs into a medium bowl and beat them together with a fork until the yolk and white are thoroughly combined. Add the beaten egg to the hot skillet all at once, then use a spoon or spatula to constantly move the egg around the skillet, When the egg is fully cooked but not browned, about 30 seconds, slide it out of the skillet and onto a plate, and set it aside.
3. Return the skillet to medium-high heat, then add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil and the cubed spam. Cook the spam, stirring occasionally, until it's golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the diced onion and minced garlic, stir everything together, and continue to cook over medium high heat just until the onion has started to soften, about 2 minutes more. Make sure to stir often, so that the garlic doesn't burn.
5. Add the chili flakes, sesame oil, kimchi, and butter, then stir everything together and cook for about a minute, just to heat the kimchi. By now, the mixture may have started to stick to the skillet. Add the reserved kimchi liquid (about 1/3 cup) and stir to deglaze the skillet (the liquid will release all the stuff that's stuck to the bottom).
6. Add the cooked rice, stir, then add the cooked egg, sliced scallions, and fish sauce (optional). Stir thoroughly so that the egg is in bite-sized pieces and everything is evenly distributed throughout the rice. Turn the heat to low to keep the rice warm while you fry the eggs, stirring every minute or so to keep the rice from sticking.
For the fried eggs:
1. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. (If you don't have a large nonstick skillet, use a small nonstick skillet and work in two batches.) When the butter is melted, crack the eggs into the skillet. Try to keep them separate but if the whites touch, that's OK.
2. Season with salt and pepper, then let the eggs cook over medium-low heat until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3-4 minutes.
Divide the fried rice evenly among four plates or bowls, then top each portion with a fried egg. Serve immediately.