Spam's Journey to the East
Spam ( short for spiced ham) was something I grew up with back in Hong Kong. It's one of those ingredients that would appear in my grandmother's dishes at least once every few weeks. It is also one of those guilty pleasures that I like to sneak in to a dish every once in a while - in this case, over a Ginger Napa cabbage casserole inspired by my grandma's. It adds crunchy and savory dimension and plays a nice contrast to the intense flavor of the ginger.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE: prep all the ingredients beforehand because cook time for stirfry is very quick.
30 MINS AND COUNTING: Soak two vermicelli noodle in warm water. Wash baby Napa and coarsely chop into 3" pieces and set aside to air dry. Peel a large ginger and slice (should generate around 6-8 pieces). Finely chop 2 shallots and slice 4 mushrooms.
25 MINS AND COUNTING: Heat a wok at high heat and add half can of spam sliced as squares. Turn occasionally until the fat is rendered and outside is crispy then set aside on paper towel or oil absorbing paper. ( If you don't like spam, you can also use thick cut bacon or pork belly.)
20 MINS AND COUNTING: Using the oil left on the wok, sautee ginger and mushrooms at high heat. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of cooking wine. Turn to medium-low heat as soon as you smell the ginger fragrance, about 1-2 minute. In several batches, toss in chopped Napa cabbage (Trick is to add more once the first batch starts to soften so you can keep folding the flavors).
10 MINS AND COUNTING: once all the Napa cabbage is in, add 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 cups of chicken broth. Turn to high heat so the broth starts to bubble. Drain and squeeze all water from the vermicelli and add to the pot. Add 5 drops of fish sauce, about 1 teaspoon or whatever amount you prefer.
5 MINS AND COUNTING: Return to medium heat to simmer for another 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally while seasoning to taste if needed. Once vermicelli turns completely transparent , add the crispy Spam on top and enjoy!
Napa cabbage, 4 baby ones or 1 big one chopped
Ginger, 1 large piece sliced
Mushroom, 4 heads
Vermicelli, 2 bundle
Spam, half can sliced in squares
Chicken broth, 2 cups
Fish sauce, 1 teaspoon or to taste
Shaoxing Chinese cooking wine, 2 teaspoons
Sugar, a pinch