Different Flavors of SPAM in Hawaii [SOURCE]
The History of Spam in Hawaii
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Spam is so common in Hawaii now that it has infiltrated many of the local "plate-lunch" style dishes of modern Hawaii eats today.
It's almost impossible to go out and grab a bite to eat in Hawaii and not be faced with the reminder that spam has become an integral part of the local diet and Local Food.
Is "Local Food" the Same as "Hawaiian Food"?
However, all food are accepted, embraced and enjoyed in Hawaii!
Below is just a sampling of the different forms that spam can be found in throughout Local Food dishes in Hawaii. As you can see, we have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with eggs, gravy, rice, macaroni salad, fruits, vegetables and as a side or a main dish.
You can even order Spam, rice and eggs in McDonalds! Yes, that's how obsessed we are.
A Visual Tour of How Locals in hawaii Cook Spam
The Hawaiian Musubi, Where Spam is King
The word musubi is a Japanese loan word to our Hawaii Pidgin English vocabulary, and refers to traditional wrapping of a seasoned rice ball with a sheet of crispy nori. Hawaii Locals have taken it the next step by throwing in there a slice of the American canned leftover meat!
Living in Hawaii, I rarely if ever ate a sandwich. For luncheons, picnics at the beach or when going hiking, Spam musubi was always our go to snack. All though it's more like a "Spam sushi", to me the Spam musubi is the quintessential "sandwich" of the Hawaiian Islands.
Spam Musubi, The "Sandwich" of Hawaii [SOURCE]
I tried to break down the ingredients and step-by-step process of how you can make spam musubi for yourself below...
1 Can Spam, Sliced and Pan-Fried
Typically, I would just use regular, good ol' fashioned traditional flavored Spam. Portion the block of spam out into even slices of your personally desired thickness. I like to keep mine thin for maximum crispiness.
Fry it up as it is, with no seasoning, if you want to keep the flavor simple and clean.
However, to give it a more teriyaki-style, I like to dust my spam slices with some cane sugar before frying to give it a nice sweet glaze to cut into the saltiness. When pressed into the white rice, this glaze creates a delicious teriyaki effect.
1 Package of Fresh & Crispy Nori Sheets
Most commonly, spam musubi makers in Hawaii use nori sheets that are the same width as the spam itself, keeping the entire ball of rice and meat uniform and held together tightly.
Additionally, thinner more narrow strips of nori, about a third the width of the spam and rice ball, can be used for a more visually appealing presentation.
Side note: The fresh nori sheets should be crispy to the touch and bright green in color. If your nori is purplish in color, or soft and pliable, then it is stale and unusable. You can try roasting it quickly over a small flame, but for all intents and purposes, your nori is a dud.
1 Pot of Steamed White Rice (Furikake^ Optional)
Some people will add a touch of sushi vinegar to their steamed white rice to give it a nice Asian inspired kick. I personally don't like the contrast in vinegar, salty and sweet that it creates, but to each his own. If adding any kind of sauce to the rice, I would normally stick to a little bit of shoyu#.
More commonly, we will add a dash (or even a huge lump) of furikake to the freshly steamed rice. The blend of bonito flakes, rock salt, nori strips and sesame seeds perfectly enhances the flavor of spam and rice, and in a small way elevates the simple 'three-ingredient" block of food to a more enjoyable experience.
1 Plastic Musubi Maker (Or Empty Spam Can)
It's a simple contraption really, an open bottom plastic box the width and length of a slice of spam, with a plastic presser to push down the rice and spam.
Simply place the box part on a sheet of nori, fill it with three layers of rice, spam and then rice again, and press it down tightly with the presser.
Remove the box while still holding the rice and spam down with the presser, and then gently peel of the presser.
If you don't have a musubi maker and you're desperate, you can always use the empty spam can to form the rice in the perfect shape to fit your nori sheet. This technique can be tricky to master, and almost never comes out looking as nice and compact as when you use a real musubi maker.
After you have your beautifully layered ball of rice and spam sitting on your sheet of crispy nori, roll the nori around the rice ball and seal the edges tightly with some fresh cold water.
And there you have it, a crispy, chewy, sweet and salty ball of spam musubi goodness!
#Hawaii Pidgin word for soy sauce, a Japanese loanword
See How Spam Musubi is Made!
More and more chefs that have been influenced by Hawaiian tastebuds are beginning to explore the possibilities of how they can make full use of this simple technique that began in Japan, was adopted by Hawaii Locals, and turned into a cultural craze.
Check out these items for a killer kitchen setup:
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And now we ask you: Do you think you could stomach taking a bite of a spam musubi?