Corned Beef and Rice

corned beefRice is a staple in Southeast Asian countries, much like potatoes in the United States. Rice isn’t too much fun to eat, however, without something like corned beef to eat with it. In the Philippines, they call it ulam (which means “main dish” in English). It can be eaten alone, but Filipinos prefer to eat rice with it. They add rice to almost every meal if the dish doesn’t already have it as an ingredient.

My Original Dislike of Corned Beef

Perhaps it was the way it looked, the way it smelled or the way it tasted, but I’ll never know why I didn’t like it in the first place. The earliest experience I can remember is trying to eat a Reuben sandwich at a place called “Hoagie’s Corner” in San Diego and spitting it out after one bite.

Perhaps it was the way it was made, but I’m still not sure. I always saw it in deli-style slices. It kind of looked like a reddened version of bacon, if you can picture that. Thinking back, it was probably the rye bread that threw me. I can’t stand pumpernickel bread, which is made with rye.

My Reintroduction to Corned Beef

Shortly after I married my wife in 1985, she bought some corned beef in a can at a local grocery store. I’d never seen it in a can, but then I had avoided it after my first experience with it. I think it was the Hormel brand.

She fried it with two eggs (mixed with the corned beef before cooking), crushed garlic and onions. She then mixed it with rice on a plate, and served it to me like I was ready to dig in. After I explained that I didn’t like it and why, she convinced me to try it anyway.

I tried it and I liked it. It was delicious, completely unlike what I’d tasted before. Today, I like corned beef and rice, but I still don’t like corned beef hash (corned beef and cubed potatoes).

Local Brands of Corned Beef

I used to buy at least 10 cans per month of corned beef, along with other canned food, at the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone every month. A third of an isle had nothing but various brands of it, the most being the Libby’s brand, which was also the most expensive. It was about the same price, however, as it was in the United States at that time.

I made the mistake of buying a local brand, “Argentina”, I think. It was terrible! I believe both the Hormel and Libby’s brands are produced in Brazil. My younger son tried a couple of other brands while I was out of the country, and he told me they were just as horrible as the “Argentina” brand.

There are local brands of corned beef, as well as other food products, that are just as good as the imported brands. The difficulty lies in finding them without having to go through the bad ones. I recently discovered Delimondo, made in the Philippines. I’ve only had the ranch style so far, but it was excellent.

Recommendations

You don’t have to add anything to the canned corned beef to make it taste better. It tastes great as it is, but not right out of the can. It should be cooked in some way because it seems to taste better that way. My father-in-law (R.I.P.) liked eating it straight from the can.

I’ve seen some other people, who also eat it with rice, slice it up like they would with Hormel’s SPAM product, fry it and eat it. I’ve never seen a sliced corned beef sandwich, but it would have to be better than any Reuben sandwich I’d ever try.

Image by No machine-readable author provided. Rainer Zenz assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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