Tag Archives: Top Chef All-Stars

New Year, New “Meat”: Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice

When it comes to food, I’m pretty much game for anything.

Except bananas. NEVER bananas.

But, I’d like to think I’d try most anything once.

I don’t want to eat bugs, but if I was visiting a culture where people eat bugs, I might eat a bug. But like, I wouldn’t eat a bug on Fear Factor (is that still on?) or just at my house or whatever. I’m not going to sit at home and watch Downton and eat a bowl of crickets.

via memegenerator.net (obviously)

via memegenerator.net (obviously)

So, to recap: I’d probably try almost anything, maybe a bug, but never bananas.

I saw this recipe for Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice on Buzzfeed. Buzzfeed has been doing this fun series where they have a chef come to their office and make breakfast. The latest chef contributor was Dale Talde.

For those who don’t know, Dale Talde is a Top Chef alum who was on my favorite two seasons (season 5 Chicago and season 8 All-Stars). He was a punk (season 5), but he really has a heart of gold (season 8).

I feel like we could be friends.  via Buzzfeed

I feel like we could be friends.
via Buzzfeed

 

Season 5 Dale…about to murk Antonia. via imdb.com

 

Dale always made really inventive food and was a pretty funny dude with a great laugh, second only to Tre Wilcox (season 3/season 8.) He also has a bunch of really killer restaurants in NYC. I’ve been to Pork Slope in Brooklyn and it was legit, especially since it combines my two favorite things: pork and puns.

Pork and Puns will be the name of my cookbook/comedy memoir, by the way.

So, when I saw this Spam and Kimchi fried rice recipe, I was excited. When two of my friends sent me the recipe, I knew I had to make it. It was time to try Spam.

I honestly did not know what to expect. But I thought, “if Dale Talde can eat Spam, I can eat some Spam too.”

If you’ve never opened Spam before, it will bring back some memories of opening cat food for the neighbors cats while they’re on vacation. (The cats weren’t on vacation…the people were….was that clear?) It has a golden pop top situation and there’s some gelatinous meat juice around the Spam, which add to the cat food-ness. It’s fairly disgusting to behold. And touch. It absolutely does not feel like real meat.

But this dish? This dish is awesome. Honestly. It’s just awesome. There are a lot of steps, but it’s not hard. Get your mise en place in place. (Nailed it.) Then go to town. The Spam is essential and it’s great. I really and truly stand corrected. It brings a salty, porky, meat-like punch to the dish.

Don’t skip the kimchi. It adds some spicy funk to the party, which every party needs. Also, it’s a probiotic according to the jar! Think about that! But not too much cause ew!

So, do yourself a favor. Try something new today. Buy yourself a can of Spam and make yourself some Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice. It’s what Dale Talde would do.

God Bless Spam and God Bless the USA.

Spam and Kimchi Fried Rice by Dale Talde from Buzzfeed

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the fried rice:

  • 1 1/2 cups white jasmine rice, uncooked
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 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
  • 4 eggs
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

To make the eggs, 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.

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.

 

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Richmond Restaurant Wars: Graffiato

I’ve been on a real Top Chef binge lately.

All of the seasons are on Hulu and it’s the perfect background show. Drama! Suspense! Foie gras! I’d already seen most of seasons, but it’s been fun to go back and watch from the beginning. It’s shocking how dated the hair, clothes and food are back in the early seasons.

Since I’m a stranger in a strange land and I don’t have many friends yet, Padma and Tom have kinda sorta been my friends. (Oh my god, that sounds so sad.) (How do people make friends as adults?) (Seriously, though…how do you do it?)

My favorite season by far was season 8, Top Chef All-Stars. It was Top Chef turnt up. All your favorite competitors who didn’t win vying for the title! Bigger challenges! Tears! Family connections! Cookie Monster! Hoodie hoos! It was everything and everyone you wanted to watch.

Including the one and only Mike Isabella. I actually hadn’t seen his original season ’til recently, but Mike is one of the best people to watch. His food always looks stupendous–typically Mediterraean inspired, but he’s Italian American and his Italian dishes got him some high praise. Also, he’s got the best laugh–just seems like a really fun, happy dude. So you’ll have to imagine my excitement when I found out he has a restaurant here in Richmond. Mike opened the first Graffiato in DC in 2011 and the Richmond chapter just a month ago. And with my friends Emily and Paul coming up to town for a wedding last weekend, it seemed like the perfect time to try it.

I just watched an episode of Restaurant Wars and something that my best friend Tom said was sticking in my head. “People come to a restaurant for the food, but they return for the service.” It’s very true. And unfortunately, that quote speaks to my experience at Graffiato.

The dishes ranged from ok (American pie pizza) to extraordinary (kabocha squash casonsei). The concept is family/tapas style with Italian and mediterranean influences. Dishes are meant to be shared, and that part is pretty successful.

Casonsei WHAT?!

Casonsei WHAT?!

But the service. Oy, the service. Our waitress had a good attitude, but ordering was difficult.

Emily: I’d like the Hoptober.*

Waitress: Oh, I actually think we’re out of that.

Emily: Ok, I’ll have the 8 Point IPA.*

Waitress: Oh. We’re actually out of that too.

::Emily looks at menu to make another decision.::

Me: I’d like the ‘Put Me in the Mix’ cocktail.

Waitress: …I’m sorry…we’re actually out of that, too. Sorry, we’re actually switching over our menus right now.

Me: Ok, do you have a glass of sauvignon blanc?

Waitress: Yes, we do.

Me: Great, I’ll have that. Anything else you’re out of?

Waitress: No, I think that’s it.

*The names of the beer have been changed because I forgot what they were.

I understand that restaurants change their menus, but I’d find it a much more tolerable offense if we’d been warned in advance. That plus the fact that one of our drinks came out after we’d gotten the check meant I walked away disappointed with the experience.

I’m sad to say that in this episode of Restaurant Wars of Bethany’s Life (registered trademark of no one), Graffiato would not come out on top. The food was altogether good, but the service left a lot to be desired.

Padma?

::Dramatic Pause::

::Dramatic Pause::

::Looks up with really wide eyes::

Graffiato. Please pack your knives and go.

::Tear::

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