Cooking for One

Spam & Egg Deopbap for One

October  4, 2022
10 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Sophie Strangio.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Garlicky, maple-candied Spam and soft-scrambled eggs top this popular Korean lunch dish. Deopbap in Korean means “covered rice,” and this Spam version has seen renewed interest since the COVID pandemic. In April, Google search results for 스팸마요덮밥 (“Spam-mayo deopbap”) skyrocketed, aligning with increased sales and even a supply shortage.

If you can get your hands on a can of Spam, then you’re in luck: The combination of spiced ham, eggs, and rice is a staple for many Asian Americans. As a final flourish, a light, soy sauce–stained mayonnaise, full of umami, gets drizzled over the bowl in a cross-hatch pattern to mimic the wonderful deopbaps that pervade lunch counters and after-school food marts in Seoul and beyond.

Featured in: The Lonely Legacy of Spam.

Want to hear more about Korean-American food? On our new podcast Counterjam—a show that explores culture through food and music—host Peter J. Kim talks instant ramyeun hacks, kimchi-jjigae, cheonggukjang, and more with chef Roy Choi and comedian Margaret Cho—check out the episode here. Eric Kim

  • 1/2 cup short-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 2 ounces Spam (one “Single Classic” pouch or a slice of the regular can), diced
  • 1 pinch plus 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (especially Hellman’s)
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 sheets gim (Korean roasted seaweed snack) or nori, scissored into small squares, for garnish
In This Recipe
  1. First, cook the rice:

    Rice-Cooker Method: Place the rinsed rice and water into a rice cooker and let soak for 10 minutes. Turn the rice cooker on.

    Stovetop Method: Place the rinsed rice and water into a small pot and let soak for 10 minutes. Cook over high heat, uncovered, until it comes to a simmer, then reduce heat immediately to the lowest possible setting on your stove and continue simmering gently, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove from the heat and let sit, still covered, for 10 minutes to steam and get fluffy.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the Spam: In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, followed by the Spam and a pinch of garlic powder. Fry the Spam, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add maple syrup and stir, cooking until it bubbles up and reduces, coating the Spam cubes with sticky candy, about 1 minute. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Next, scramble the eggs: In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper until homogenous. In the same pan over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil and the egg mixture. With a rubber spatula, stir occasionally so you end up with large curds, cooking the eggs slowly and evenly to your desired doneness (I love a super soft-set, runny scramble), 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Assemble the rice bowl: Transfer the cooked rice into a bowl, then top with the soft-scrambled eggs, followed by the Spam, then the roast seaweed snack garnish. In a small dish, stir together the mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, soy sauce, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and transfer to a squeeze bottle or a small zip-top bag with the tiniest bit of its corner cut off, then squirt the mayo over the rice in neat, thin lines, creating a cross-hatch pattern across the surface of the bowl.

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Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

1 Review

Ironwood C. January 3, 2021
This is good. I like SPAM. And, contrary to popular belief, it is not "mystery meat"--simply pork shoulder, ham and 4 more ingredients. In fact, on the Hormel Foods (maker of SPAM) website, there is a letter from Chairman Khrushchev to the company thanking it for SPAM saving the Soviet troops during the siege of Leningrad.