We each have our ideal comfort foods. My favourites include grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna, ice cream sundaes, and cinnamon buns (though I could go on forever). These favoured foods range hugely between people and cultures, and one person’s greatest culinary love might actually inspire extreme discomfort in another. Recently, I discovered that when some people need an edible hug, they want nothing more than a bowl of macaroni, Spam, and fried egg soup.
I know that certain people will read that and think “Well, duh, that’s because it’s delicious,” while others are more likely to cock their heads, say “Whaaaaa?” and reach for a cinnamon bun. I didn’t realize spam/mac/egg soup (henceforth known as “spamacaregg”) was even a thing until I saw it on the Mambo Café menu, next to other HK classics like beef tongue on spaghetti and baked pork chop on rice.
That was about a month and a half ago at Aberdeen Centre, and in that moment I decided I would return for spamacaregg, oh yes I would.
Yesterday I bought myself a bowl. It cost $6.25 and came with a drink, so I chose a half-sweet lemon tea (I adore this drink now). The soup on my tray looked exactly like the picture, which I found quite satisfying.
It was filled with savoury broth, macaroni noodles, frozen carrots/peas/green beans, and topped off with two slices of fried Spam, an over-easy egg, and chopped green onions.
You know what? For someone who had originally thought of this dish as a little cray-zay, I found it surprisingly good. I stabbed into the egg and watched the yolk run thickly into the broth, scooped up soft macaroni with my spoon, and felt like a little kid again.
And what of the spam? I can’t necessarily say I’m an adoring fan, and that’s because it’s so very foreign to me. I grew up thinking that Spam was a product of the 1950’s, and one that had STAYED in the 1950’s, and it wasn’t until I was much older (and you know, so wooorldly) that I discovered Spam is still very much a part of many cultures’ day-to-day cuisine. I certainly wouldn’t have predicted I’d be writing about spamacaregg one day, but here I am, getting to know Spam for the first time at age 28.
I would describe it as tasting like meat butter; it is very soft, salty, and incredibly rich-tasting. Remember that one time I ate a bunch of butter thinking it was cheese? Well, that experience wasn’t that far off this one. So I guess you could say I like it……?
This dish may now and always horrify some people, but for those who love it, I can respect how spamacaregg could become a comfort food, especially if this is what your mom served you growing up.
If you’ve ever had dim sum, then you might have tried another classic Chinese comfort food – sticky rice in lotus leaves. I’ve had them many times this year (including just a few days ago at Empire), and love them. Recently, I got to go into the Vivacity Restaurant kitchen and learn how to package up these little rice gifts myself. What goes in? Well, here was our setup:
You first start by crossing two strips of lotus leaves, then layering the sticky rice and pork mixture. These are topped with pieces of the sausage and preserved egg yolk, a sprinkle of dried scallops, and another layer of sticky rice.
Then you fold up both sides, bring the bottom piece up over the folds, and roll it up as tightly as possible before placing it in the steamer.
They’re quite easy to assemble, though with the slow and methodical approach I took, I’d be capable of preparing enough for about 2.5 tables a day, and people would be shouting “WHERE IS MY FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD AND WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG??”
Of course, one of the parts I liked most about this lesson was that at the end, I got to douse the rice wraps in XO sauce and eat them. They were sticky, chewy, savoury, salty, and can I just say, SO well-folded.
Afterwards, we were treated to bowls of cold green bean soup, which was just sweet enough and very refreshing.
Thanks to Vivacity for allowing me a behind the scenes peek into their kitchen, and for letting me play chef for an hour. My brain nearly combusts when I think of the amount they produce in that kitchen each day, and yet they still took the time to host me!
Richmond readers, do you have any favourite comfort foods I haven’t yet tried? If so, please let me know! And to all of you who love a good bowl of spamacaregg, I hope you get one soon.
Not many vegetarian options