…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? The name SPAM was derived from a contraction of 'spiced ham'. The original variety of Spam is still available today, acknowledged as the 'spiced hammiest' of them all. Spam is a brand of canned cooked pork made by Hormel Foods Corporation. It was introduced by Hormel in 1937 and gained popularity worldwide after its use during World War II.
The difficulty of delivering fresh meat to the front lines during World War II saw Spam become a ubiquitous part of the U.S. soldier's diet. It became variously referred to as "ham that didn't pass its physical", "meatloaf without basic training "and "Special Army Meat". Over 68,000 tons (150 million pounds) of Spam were purchased by the military before the war's end. It may have been the only meat seen by US troops in both theaters for months on end.
During World War II and the occupations that followed, Spam was introduced into Guam, Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines and other islands in the Pacific. Immediately it was absorbed into native diets. It is a unique part of U.S. history and an interesting culinary influence in the Pacific islands.
Spam's basic ingredients are pork shoulder with added ham, salt, water, modified potato starch (as a binder), a little sugar and sodium nitrite (as a preservative). Natural gelatin is formed during cooking in its tins on the production line. Many have raised concerns over Spam's nutritional attributes, in large part due to its high content of fat, sodium, and preservatives. That said, it has become a delicacy in the Hawaiian Islands in the form of Spam sushi or musubi. Musubi is a dish made of fish or meat (Spam) tied to a block of rice with nori, differing from sushi in that the rice is not vinegared. The Hawaiians have appropriated Spam Musubi as a culinary culture menu icon.
It’s hard to believe that a snack so small and “cute” could be truly satisfying, but do not underestimate the power of Spam Musubi. This popular Hawaiian treat is made similarly to sushi, with a slice of SPAM swapped instead of the raw fish.
The Spam is lightly caramelized in a blend of sugar and soy sauce, creating a savory-sweet-chewy layer that contrasts beautifully with the light, airy texture of egg. The rice is seasoned with sesame oil and Furikake, a Japanese spice blend with dried fish that lends just the right note of umami. Creamy Sriracha aioli ties it all together with a little heat at the finish.
Spam Musubi are easier to make than they look—prep time is only about 30 minutes, and the Spam and eggs come together in one pan for easy clean up. After you’ve made Musubi once, you may soon find that you want them all the time, and that’s okay, because they’re versatile. You can eat them for breakfast, serve them as a petite appetizer with beer, or pack them for a hike. Spam musubi makes the ultimate mid-Saturday-chores snack. The combination of protein, egg and rice is so fortifying and filling you’ll keep coming back for more.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 2 or 3 minutes
Yield: 8 Spam musubi pieces
1 can reduced-sodium Spam
2 sheets roasted seaweed
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
6 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 cups cooked sushi rice
2 tablespoons Furikake seasoning
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Sriracha aioli, for serving (recipe below)
This is a simple, fresh-tasting spicy sauce excellent with Spam Musubi, Spam, crab cakes or even fish tacos as well as a perfect dipping sauce for homemade French fries.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1-1/4 cups
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Quip of the Day: “The best things about the “good old days” are that I wasn’t all that good and I wasn’t so damn old.”
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