They say necessity is the mother of invention but every once in a while you find yourself with an embarrassment of riches that gets that gray matter into overdrive as well. My little veggie garden has seen fit to bequeath me with 10 lbs of pattypan squash…and that’s just this week’s harvest. Fried rice, like many stir-fries is an easy way to mix together some of your favorite veggies over a backdrop of salty starchy rice and who could say no to that? I like to mix in a little sweet and sour with my salt as it adds a nice contrast and gives you more depth of flavors to keep those taste buds happy and happy taste buds translate into more flavor with less need for salt and fat. This fried rice is a Korean variety called kimchi bokkeumbap or bokumbap which literally translates into “kimchi fried rice.” The pickled kimchi gives you little bursts of sour and spice as well as crunch from the cabbage while the unpickled cabbage and carrots bring a sweet crunchy texture contrasting nicely with the sea of carby soy sauced rice. Spam is a popular ingredient in South Korea (apparently there was a huge black market for it after WWII up until 1987 and it’s not uncommon to see spam gift sets for national holidays). While I’m not a huge fan of it, a couple slices adds a salty unctuousness to this pretty lean dish and if you’ve ever had spam musubi (a delicious Hawaiian take on the sushi roll featuring spam browned in a teriyaki sauce) you may just become a convert. What I like about this recipe is that it’s so flexible, not only can you switch up the veggies to your preferences but you can also make it vegetarian by leaving out the spam. It’s pretty common to serve the egg sunny side up with each serving of kimchi bokkeumbop but I like the version with it mixed in, as this is already plenty of protein per serving and more eggs means more cholesterol.
So, back to those cute little squashes. One perk of squash and other veggies that provide texture without a pronounced flavor is that you can smuggle them into many dishes without anyone being the wiser. Summer squash, which include pattypan or scalloped squash, are a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, and beta carotene as well as A, B6, and fiber. Pretty amazing for a humble veggie that obligingly takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with, no? But, if you’re ethically opposed to the culinary exploitation of squash or don’t happen to have any handy, you can omit them without anyone being the wiser, I won’t tell anyone. Pinky promise ;).
1) If you don’t have a wok, a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven will work as well. You need a heavy pot, like cast iron, to build up and retain heat with stir-frying to not only give you a nice crust to your veggies but also to sear them quickly to keep them from getting mushy/steamed instead of stir-fried. If your stovetop doesn’t generate a lot of heat, I’d recommend halving the recipe so that you can concentrate the heat on a smaller volume and not steam everything.
2) As with most stir-fries, once the stove is on, everything moves really quickly so having all your ingredients at hand and already prepped is essential otherwise you may end up with blackened, wilted bits and speed dial #2 for dinner :(.
3) Making a well in the rice to cook your egg will allow you to have cooked bits of egg that are still moist–when I’ve tried scrambling the egg separately it tends to get a dry, rubbery texture once it’s incorporated into the rice.
4) Fresh steamed rice versus cold/leftover rice? This may seem counterintuitive but if your stovetop doesn’t produce a lot of heat, cold rice is best. Why? Fresh steamed rice has a lot of moisture so you need a really hot wok to keep it from steaming everything else. I used fresh rice in this recipe but I have an industrial range with burners that produce 15,000 BTU each. (Don’t hate me, we only eat out 1-2 times a week so everything else is lil’ ol’ me :).)
3 + 1 tbsp soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari soy sauce to make a gluten-free dish)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 + 1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 small summer squash, skin on and finely diced
1/4 cabbage (green or Napa), julienned
2 1/2-inch slices low sodium spam, in 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 c kimchi
6 c steamed white rice
Mix together 3 tbsp soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and garlic in a small bowl. In another small bowl lightly beat eggs and remaining tbsp soy sauce. Set both bowls aside but easily accessible from the stovetop.
Heat 1 tbsp oil on high heat till a drop of water evaporates in a second. Add in carrot and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add squash to wok and stir-fry for another 30 seconds. Add cabbage and stir-fry for 1 minute. Remove veggies from wok and set aside in a medium-sized bowl.
Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil till a drop of water evaporates in a second. Stir-fry spam till lightly browned. Add half of rice to wok and mix with spam. Pour in half of the soy sauce mixture and mix well. Return veggies to wok and add remaining rice and soy sauce mixture and mix. Make a well in the rice so that the bottom of the wok is visible. Pour in egg mixture and let sit for 45 seconds. Close well and mix egg in with rice. Mix in kimchi and remove from heat. Makes 6 servings.