This simple stir-fry has its roots in over 1000 years of trade history between Okinawa and South-East Asia, Japan, China and, more recently, America. It is the iconic dish of Okinawa and tells the island’s whole story on just one plate. Although you can substitute pork belly for the Spam if you have an aversion, just know that I asked one 90-year-old Okinawan lady what people had used on the island for their goya champuru before Spam. Her response: "I don’t even remember."






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (20 votes)


  • 1 bitter melon, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150 g Spam luncheon meat, thinly sliced, or 150 g pork belly, skin and bone removed, thinly sliced
  • 300 g firm tofu, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sake (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • handful (about 5 g) of bonito flakes (see Note), plus extra, to serve 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Draining time 15 minutes
Drink match 2013 Yalumba Y Series Pinot Grigio, SA ($10.99)

Using a spoon, scrape seeds and spongy centres from bitter melon halves and discard. Slice remaining flesh crossways and place in a colander. Sprinkle over ½ tsp salt, toss to coat, then set aside for 15 minutes to drain. Rinse well under cold water and drain well.

Place a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add oil and fry Spam (or pork belly) for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add bitter melon to wok and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until softened. Add to bowl with Spam.

Add a little more oil to the wok if necessary, and then add tofu. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until tofu starts to brown. Return Spam and bitter melon to wok along with the soy, sake and mirin. Toss to combine.

Push all ingredients to one side of the wok, then pour eggs into the other side. Stir eggs until starting to set, then stir through other ingredients. Add bonito flakes, toss to combine and season to taste. Serve topped with extra bonito flakes.


 Sake is a Japanese rice wine available from bottle shops. If unavailable, you can substitute with mirin.
• Bonito flakes are fermented and dried fish flakes. They're available from Japanese and Asian food shops.



Photography Chris Chen


As seen in Feast magazine, November 2013, Issue 26. For more recipes and articles, pick up a copy of this month's Feast magazine or check out our great subscriptions offers here.