Food writer, Carmen Cheng, of Food Karma Blog tells us her favourite pantry staples:

  • Rio Mare Tuna – it’s so much more flavourful than most brands
  • Canned tomatoes
  • A few different soy sauces: the generic brand when a recipe calls for a lot of soy sauce and craft, small batch soy sauce when you just need to finish a dish with flavour
  • Lots of sauces and ingredients that build umami and flavour such as sesame oil, gochujang (Korean red pepper paste), and fish sauce. Fish sauce is my secret ingredient to add unexpected umami into dishes
  • Spam, we like this canned meat in our household
  • Kimchi, my partner is Korean and kimchi is a staple, even if it needs to be refrigerated and not stored in the pantry
  • A bag of rice

Cheng also added, “During social distancing I started to reserve bacon fat in a jar. It’s great for this recipe, adding some smokiness, but oil can be used in its place.”

Kimchi and Spam Fried Rice


Oil or bacon fat if you have any, for frying

1 can Spam, cut into cubes (can swap for 6 strips bacon, rough chopped)

3 cups kimchi, chopped into thin strips

1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups cooked rice (preferably made the day before, and using a fork make sure to break up any clumps)

2 Tbs (30 mL) kimchi juice from the kimchi jar

1 Tbs (15 mL) gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)

2 Tbs sesame oil

2 eggs

2 tsp (10 mL) fish sauce, recommended but optional

To taste salt and pepper

1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly diagonally

Sesame seeds to garnish

Note: Prepare all ingredients before cooking, as the cooking process is really quick and you will want everything ready.


  1. Heat a wok or large fry pan on medium, add 1 Tbs oil.
  2. Fry Spam until edges are brown and crispy, set aside.
  3. Add another ½ Tbs oil to the hot wok. Turn heat up to medium high. Fry kimchi and garlic approximately 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice to the wok mixture. Stir fry to incorporate all ingredients. Fry until rice is warmed through, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add kimchi juice, gochujang, and sesame oil and fold into other ingredients in the wok, cook together for 2 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a separate nonstick pan, add oil and fry two eggs sunny side.
  7. Stir Spam back into the rice mixture. Add fish sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Plate rice, top with crispy fried eggs, green onion slices, and sesame seeds.

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