Garlic, SPAM, & Rice: A Comfort Food Trinity

Posted on: May 18, 2021
Topics: Community, DIY
By Liza Posas, Head of Research Services and Archives

I am joining in on the fried rice game with my Autry colleagues Jennifer, Yuki, Keisha, and of course the woman who led the charge, Christina.

Like my colleagues, my version of fried rice is derived from something that is as familial as it is familiar. Growing up, my father was the fried rice maker in the house. And our fried rice was synonymous to GARLIC fried rice that included just a few ingredients, basic instructions, and the promise of comfort food savoriness (or dare I say “umami”).

Dad’s Garlic Fried Rice

Ingredients:

  • vegetable oil
  • a whole lot of minced garlic
  • day-old cooked white rice (aka left-over rice from last night’s dinner)
  • garlic salt

Cooking instructions:

    Put a drizzle or two of oil in a wok (or frying pan) over medium heat. Sauté garlic until toasty brown. Add in rice and mix until garlic is evenly distributed. Let things sizzle and get even more toasty, mixing occasionally. Add garlic salt to taste. Optional (but highly suggested) eat with fried egg on top.

Like my colleagues, these recipes don’t include measurements, especially since one’s garlic to rice ratio is a very personal preference. 

Today, how I make SPAM fried rice is heavily based on my Dad’s way of cooking.

Liza’s Garlic Fried Rice w/ SPAM

Ingredients:    

  • vegetable oil
  • a whole lot of minced garlic
  • one can of SPAM, cut into 1/4”–1/2” cubes
  • day-old cooked white rice
  • sesame oil

Cooking instructions:

    Put a drizzle of oil in a wok (or frying pan) over medium heat. Note: You need just enough oil to make sure the garlic doesn’t stick to the pan. Once you add the SPAM, you shouldn’t have any problem with things sticking to the pan, even the rice.

    Sauté garlic until almost brown and then add SPAM, cook until browned. Add in rice and mix until evenly distributed. Add a small drizzle of sesame oil (for taste). Mix and let things sizzle to get even more toasty, mixing occasionally. Turn off heat when all things get toasty and crisp enough to your liking. Scoop on a plate and enjoy.

The ratio for the SPAM fried rice imaged below came to about 2 parts rice: 1 part spam (equaling one can): ¼ part garlic.
 
“But wait, where are the eggs?” you may ask. In our household, the egg is always the topper, either fried sunny side up or poached (the yolk is key!). You could be done at this point and eat away, but I always add any or all of the following as toppings or sides: soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, furikake seasoning, fresh tomatoes, and pickled vegetables or peppers. 

In true Filipino style, I always eat this dish with a fork and spoon. Both utensils are used to slice and churn things all together, then the fork is used to shovel a bit of everything in one flavorful spoonful. 

Happy eating!

Image Captions

  1. The trinity, day-old rice, garlic, and one can of SPAM
  2. “A whole lot of minced garlic” and drizzle of oil in a hot wok
  3. SPAM, garlic, and rice sizzling in a wok—just a few minutes before being done to the author’s liking
  4. Some go-to fried rice toppings—furikake seasoning, soy sauce, and Sriracha
  5. Liza’s Garlic Fried Rice topped with fried egg, cherry tomatoes, furikake, soy sauce, and Sriracha (with fork and spoon at the ready)
  6. Mr. Leonides Ramos Posas, author’s dad and garlic fried rice master