Meat-in-a-can. The phrase does not always bring up the happiest of reactions. In fact, when you tell most people that you’re making something tasty with Spam they immediately make faces of disgust or feign vomiting. I however have a different point of view. I love Spam. There, I said it. I’m not ashamed of it either.
When I was younger and living in the South, Spam was a real treat. Sliced thick between some white bread with a blanket of bright orange American cheese and a swipe of mayo. Sometimes a slice of tomato or lettuce would weasel its way on my sandwich if we were feeling the need to “eat healthy.”
Of all the things I learned during my time in the South there were two important lessons that I abide by: A) always try to be hospitable and B) never stick your nose up at food.
Is Spam good for you? No. But then again, is pizza good for you? How about eating a double bacon cheeseburger? Of course not. But they are delicious and when eaten in moderation they are perfectly fine and delicious. I just don’t recommend an all Spam diet.
Spam also gets such a bad reputation for being “mystery meat.” Also not true. According to Hormel it’s a “mixture of ham and pork shoulder.” Looks like Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys can have the day off; there’s no mystery here.
Strangely enough, it wasn’t until I moved to Seattle that I had my first Hawaiian food experience. We actually have some amazing plate lunch joints up in this neck of the woods. It would also be the very first time I had ever heard of the dish Spam Musubi. For the uninitiated it’s basically Spam sushi. A slice of marinated and seared off Spam put on top of sushi rice and wrapped in nori (seaweed sheets).
Spam is also big in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia. It was a pretty big staple for US troops during WWII so it makes sense to have integrated into the cultures and cuisines of places where our military bases were positioned. Perhaps it was Spam that won the war. Our soldiers were all hopped up on ham in a can. Who knows?
Here’s an idea for you. Have a little 1940s Spam party. Get all dolled up and put on some Andrews Sisters records. Make some Mai Tais and Spam Masubi. I guarantee you’ll never have had so much fun with meat in a can. xoxo
Spam Musubi 2 cups short grain sushi/sticky rice 1 Tbsp sake 3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar 1/2 Tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 2 1/2 cups water 3 sheets of sushi nori, cut into 2" long strips 1 (12oz) can Spam 1/2 cup soy sauce 2 tsp sugar 2 tsp chili garlic paste 1 Tbsp teriyaki sauce peanut oil, for frying Slice the Spam into 1/2" slices. Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic, and teriyaki sauce. Marinate the spam in the mixture for 30 minutes to 1 hour. In the meantime, to make the sushi rice, rinse the rice until the water becomes clear. Put the rice, water, and sake in a rice cooker. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then turn the rice cooker on. When the rice cooker turns off let the rice sit for 10 minutes covered.(If you don’t have a rice cooker use a pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low. Cook for 17 minutes.)
In a small pan mix together the vinegar, sugar, and salt and heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Remove the rice to a large bowl and mix in the vinegar mixture until well incorporated. Let the rice cool to room temperature. In a large saute pan over medium high heat add 1 Tbsp peanut oil. Remove the Spam from the marinade, pat it dry, and fry the Spam until golden on both sides (about 2 minutes a side).
On a clean surface set aside a bowl of cool water. Lay down a strip of nori. Center a slice of Spam on top so that the nori is laying underneath and coming out evenly on both sides. Dip your hands into the cool water and grab about 2-3 Tbsp of rice. Mold the rice into a compacted oval shape. Place the rice on top of the Spam slice and pat it down, smoothing out the edges so it resembles the shape of the Spam. Pull up the sides of the nori so that they overlap and gently pull them tight pressing them together. If they don't stick together just dab your finger in water and touch the nori to seal.
You can serve them with a little soy sauce, wasabi, or Sriracha hot sauce. Enjoy!