Spam is a childhood staple in any Asian household—whether you like it or not. Although my family was relatively healthy, Spam was the one thing that we would make an exception for. Whenever we would go to the grocery store, we would buy a can of “lite” Spam, thinking it the more nutritious option.
We ate Spam with almost everything. We would throw it in soups and sauces, saute it, and sometimes we would even eat it straight from the can! It added umami to everything, and brought some saltiness to a dish.
I love eating gyeranjjim (Korean steamed egg) with rice, but it always seemed like it was missing something. One day, my grandma added some diced Spam to the egg custard: It was life-changing. This was the day that the Spam egg custard was born. The Spam added the right amount of savoriness and saltiness to the egg custard that I now make sure to include it every time I make this dish. I recommend using the original (or “lite”!) Spam, as opposed to flavored versions of the meat like "cheese" or "bacon" when making this dish.
The secret to making velvety-soft egg custard is to whisk in twice as much water as egg by volume. Of course, every egg is different, so how on earth would one be able to ensure that it will be similarly smooth every time? I figured out a foolproof method: Measure the volume of each egg with its shell—I’ll crack an egg into a bowl, then fill both half-shells with water twice. For example, this recipe calls for 4 large eggs, so the amount of water used should be equivalent to the volume of 8 eggs. Of course, you can always crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and measure the volume that way too, but why dirty another dish when you don’t have to? The beauty of this dish is that everything goes into one bowl. —Catherine Yoo
medium yellow onion, small diced (about 4 ounces or 1 cup)
In a medium heat-proof bowl (about 4 cups), whisk the eggs until thoroughly mixed. Add about 1.5 cups of water which should be twice the volume of your eggs (refer to the headnote for a handy trick!) and mix again until completely combined.
Add onion, Spam, scallions, sesame oil, and salt to the bowl with the egg mixture. Lightly crush the toasted sesame seeds with your fingers to release the oils. Top the egg custard with sesame seeds and the gochugaru.
Place the bowl with the egg mixture in a large saucepot, then fill with water until the water comes about one third of the way up the bowl. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium high heat.
Once the water is boiling, lower the heat so that the water is lightly simmering on medium low heat for another 10 minutes, or until the custard jiggles a bit in the center and is more set on the sides. To check for doneness, poke the custard in the center with a toothpick. If any residual liquid comes out, continue cooking for another five minutes, then check again. Using a side towel or pot holder. carefully remove the bowl (it will be hot) from the pot, and set aside on a heatproof surface to cool slightly.