Piping hot, savoury and sweet, you’ll want to make this spam fried rice over and over again! A sleeper comfort dish, this recipe comes together quickly with any ingredients you need cleared from your fridge. This Spam fried rice is an homage to my Chinese Canadian roots, is kid friendly and reheats well. Follow my cooking tips and flavour guidelines to create foolproof spam fried rice!
Not to sound cliché (but sounding cliché) I love fried rice. Even my meal-compartment loving daughters make an exception! This is definitely an east meets ‘Western omelet’ recipe and is perfect for school lunches and potlucks. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do!
Reasons why spam fried rice is great (in no particular order)
- Covers multiple food groups – Add protein, veggies and carbs all in one bowl! Family meals made simple.
- Can be made in large batches – Great for feeding the family and reheats super well.
- Clears out your fridge/waste minimizer – Got a lot of random leftovers to use up? Don’t throw it out – make fried rice!
- Use whatever you got on hand – From dorm student to fancy home cook, you can whip up spam fried rice with just humble pantry staples and eggs or fancy fresh ingredients.
- Versatile – Rice is like a blank canvas, you can pretty much use anything. Just keep my taste guidelines in mind!
- Gosh darn tasty – Add your favourite ingredients and create something delicious!
Secrets to a Great Fried Rice
Chinese Fried rice is flexible and great to clear your leftovers with as few or as many ingredients you want. There are still a few guidelines to follow to ensure fried rice success (my claim to fame on this topic is simply because growing up in a Chinese family means I’ve eaten my fair share of bowls)
- Use Leftover Rice – Cooler, drier rice is more suitable for frying (i.e. last night’s rice from the fridge). The aerosolized oil coats every granule and the rice is easier to handle and toss. Fresh hot steamed is softer and wetter forcing you to slop things around while frying, producing a mushier fried rice. Check out my tips if using fresh rice.
- Fluffy Eggs – As a matter of preference, I like slightly browned, soft pillow-y morsels of egg throughout my fried rice. Halfway scramble your eggs first in high heat to give them almost a souffle-like texture and add them back near the end. If you love eggs, my shrimp omelet is a must try!
- Savoury and Sweet Flavours – Like all great dishes, balance is key. Combine sweetness like onions, peppers and peas with savoury like spam, BBQ pork or bacon! Check out my fried rice flavour combos.
- Asian Seasonings – I use Chinese flavours – soy sauce and oyster sauce to flavour the rice along with garlic and green onions.
Other Fried Rice Flavour Combinations
Keep the base of Asian seasonings, eggs, garlic and green onions as your rice base, here are some great sweet and savoury combos to try.
- Spam, onions, red peppers and sweet peas – this recipe!
- BBQ pork, shrimp and peas – the famous yeung chow fried rice
- Chinese BBQ pork, cabbage and onions
- Diced chicken or salted fish and iceberg lettuce – a Chinese classic
- Grilled eel, crab, seaweed and fish roe
- Crab, scallops, shrimp and pineapple
Spam Fried Rice Expert Tips
Use a wok or deep non-stick pan – A wok is ideal because of ‘wok-hei’ or ‘breath of the wok’ where a large surface, aerosolized oil and a searing hot surface gives even cooking and a wonderful smoky flavour to the rice. If you don’t own a wok (don’t worry!), use a wide non-stick pan with some depth so you can move the rice well to evenly coat, season and avoid sticking. Still tasty!
Have all ingredients prepared and ready to go – This dish cooks quickly so make sure all ingredients are prepped and all ready to go. Each ingredient only needs minutes to cook.
Sear your Spam – Leave your spam untouched in your wok/pan for a minute to get a nice sear for extra flavour.
Cut your Spam in large chunks – Cut your Spam between ½” – ¾” cubes so there are nice chunks throughout the rice and they don’t break up too much during frying.
Cook eggs first – Cook your eggs halfway first (leave it still watery) to create some fluffy morsels and mix it back near the end.
Start with ingredients that take longer to cook – Depending on your ingredients, always add the ones that cook the longest first. They should be almost fully cooked by the time you add the rice or you risk overcooking everything else.
Cut ingredients about the size of a fingernail – All ingredients (aside from the spam) should be diced about a fingernail size to disperse evenly with the rice. Root vegetables like carrots, which take longer to cook, also benefit from cooking faster.
Spam Fried Rice Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Beat eggs until frothy. Add ¼ tsp of salt and set aside.
Step 2: Prepare other ingredients, chopped onion, red bell pepper, green onion and minced garlic.
Step 3: Cut Spam into ½” – ¾” cubes and set aside.
Step 4: Heat oil in wok on medium/high heat and cook the eggs halfway through. They should still be 50% watery. Place back in the bowl you used to beat the eggs with. Set aside.
Step 5: Add more oil into the heated wok. Add the onion and fry till translucent.
Step 6: Add in red pepper, minced garlic and cubed Spam. Toss to mix and fry until your Spam has a nice sear. Keep contents moving using a scoop and flip motion being careful not to break up the cubed Spam too much.
Step 7: Lower heat to medium. Add cold rice and break up any large chunks using your spatula. Add frozen sweetlet peas and mix well. Toss for 30 seconds.
Step 8: Add soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, white pepper and fish sauce (if using).
Step 9: Add back the egg. Toss for about 30 seconds breaking up the egg and until the seasonings are well mixed in the rice.
Step 10: Add chopped green onion and toss together for another minute.
Spam fried rice should be served immediately while hot. Garnish with extra green onion, toasted sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced nori.
Place fried rice in heaps on a large serving plate for a family style meal. Add some delicious side dishes like kimchi, seaweed salad, pickled radishes or Chinese vegetables. Add some condiments like sriracha, satay sauce and chili flakes for spice lovers.
Preparation/Make Ahead Tips
To save even more time, get ahead on the prep the night before but chopping the onions, red peppers and mincing the garlic the night before. Keep them refrigerated in tightly sealed containers (especially the garlic). Garlic releases their aromas when they’re cut, I’m usually fine with this (since I’m a garlic lover) but if it’s too overwhelming, then mince it right before using.
Storing & Reheating Tips
Store any unused portions in a resealable container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat by placing rice on a serving plate, create a well in the center and microwave on high for 1½ mins. Stir the rice and reheat again for 1-2 minutes.
If your fried rice is rather hard, place a damp paper towel over the rice during reheating.
Spam Fried Rice Substitutions
Since fried rice is so versatile, there are unlimited options and flexibility. Feel free to swap any of these ingredients (with whatever you have on hand) or add any. I wouldn’t include more than 5 ingredients to your fried rice base (i.e. garlic, green onion and eggs) to keep things less complicated.
Seasonings – soy sauce is definitely essential to fried rice. Add oyster sauce for a little extra seafood flavour. If you don’t have fresh garlic or onion, use powder.
Spam – any salty cured meat will be great in fried rice. Any brand of luncheon meat will also work (not just Spam). Other options include: bacon, hot dogs, Chinese BBQ pork (char siu 叉燒) or Chinese sausage (lap cheong 臘腸)
Other Proteins – Shrimp, diced chicken, scallops, crumbled pork or sweet sausage
Peas – I usually have a pack of frozen peas on hand but any sweet snappy bean will work well. Options include edamame or green beans cut about ⅜ “. If you don’t have any beans, try the other vegetable options below.
Egg – Personally I love eggs with my fried rice and I always have them on hand. Feel free to leave them out or use firm tofu cut into cubes. I would add a splash of soy sauce when adding the tofu during the cooking process.
Vegetables – Most vegetables will work well in fried rice making it a great way to clear wilted vegetables! I especially like pineapple for a Hawaiian touch, shredded cabbage or iceberg lettuce. Corn, carrots and broccoli stems also work great. I’d stay away from any vegetable that tends to bleed in color like beets or gets mushy during cooking like yams and eggplant since it will add too much moisture to the rice while frying.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Leftover rice is drier making it easier to fry and move around in the wok/pan. If you need to make rice, I would use less water during cooking to make a stiffer texture. Lay out the rice flat on a pan to cool and place it in the fridge for as long as you can. The cooler you can get it, the better.
If you roll a grain of rice between your index finger and thumb and can easily smear it – it’s probably too soft for frying. It should hold its shape. Try to harden it by placing it in the fridge for at least half an hour. If you’re trying to fry rice that’s too wet, it’s like trying to save overcooked pasta. Just like pasta needs to be al dente before tossing in sauce, rice needs to be drier to fry effectively.
Spam is a great versatile protein if you don’t have fresh meat on hand. Use it in Spam fried rice (this recipe), fry it up in a toasted sandwich with egg, lay it on top of noodle soup or steamed rice with pickled vegetables. Roll it with some sushi rice and nori to make Spam musubi (below) an easy snack from Hawaii.
Personally, Spam tastes better seared for texture and taste. I would slice it ½ thick or dice into cubes before frying.
Spam, like most canned products, isn’t the healthiest and perceived as a convenience food. I would consider them close to hotdogs or sausages with the high fat and sodium content. I usually choose low sodium Spam and find it more than enough for Spam fried rice.
Yes! Rice is great with salty cured meats and Spam is no exception! Steamed or fried rice work equally well!
Spam definitely has a stigma in Asian cuisine and references hard painful times in history since WWII. It symbolizes the American presence in Asian countries – how an American canned meat product made its way in dishes like Spam musubi and budae jjigae (army stew).
It’s hard to say where Spam fried rice first came from since there are Korean, Hawaiian, Filipino and Chinese versions. Nonetheless, it’s Asian American (Canadian). As a first generation Asian kid, my mom used to fry up slices of it, coat them in egg and put it in a sandwich for me for school. The spam fried rice you find here, is a fusion of my own Chinese Canadian culture and my childhood memories.
Spam appears quite often in Korean and Filipino cuisine, however, some would argue that it’s most popular in Hawaii. Being that Hawaii is in the US and Spam is of American origin, I would say this is a good educated guess!
If you have any factual evidence, lemme know in the comments below 🙂
Chinese Style Spam Fried Rice (in a Wok)
- 4 large eggs
- ¼ tsp salt plus more to taste
- ½ red bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 medium white onion finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 12 oz. can of spam low sodium (Note 1)
- 2 cup frozen sweetlet peas
- 7 cups cooked white rice preferably a day old (refrigerated) (Note 2)
- 3 Tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 scallions
- 4 Tbsp. grapeseed oil divided (for frying)
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
- 2 tsp oyster sauce (optional)
- sesame seeds (optional) (for garnish)
- nori cut into thin strips (optional) (for garnish)
- Beat eggs until frothy and add the salt. Set aside for 15 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. (Note 3)
- Chop and prepare red pepper and onion. Mince garlic. Set aside. (Note 4)
- Cut spam into ½” – ¾” cubes. Set aside.
Cooking the Dish
- Heat wok or large nonstick pan on medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp oil. When oil starts to smoke, beat eggs a little and add to the pan. You should hear a satisfying sizzle when the eggs hit the pan. When the edges start to solidify, move them to the center and tip the wok to let the liquid egg run out and cook. Remove egg from wok when the eggs are 50% cooked (still runny). Place back in the raw egg dish and set aside.
- Add another 2 Tbsp oil. Add chopped onion. Fry until the onion is translucent. Add a pinch of salt.
- Add in red pepper, minced garlic and cubed Spam. Toss to mix and fry until your Spam has a nice sear. Keep contents moving using a scoop and flip motion being careful not to break up the cubed Spam too much. (Note 5)
- Lower heat to medium. Add cold rice. Using your spatula, break up any large chunks and mix well. As the rice heats up, it will start to break up easier. (Note 6)
- Add frozen sweetlet peas. Toss for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, white pepper and fish sauce (if using).
- Add back the egg. Toss for about 30 seconds breaking up the egg and until the seasonings are well mixed in the rice. Add chopped scallions and toss together for another minute.
- Sample a small spoonful and salt to taste.
- Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with sesame seeds and thinly sliced nori if desired. Serve immediately.