Spam from Hawaii
June 11, 2009
By Ginger Isham
I always enjoy picking up cookbooks when on a trip, and could not resist “Hawaii’s Spam Cookbook” during a recent voyage to the Pacific.
The history of SPAM goes back 70 years. It was known as the “miracle meat” because of its shelf life when fresh meat was hard to get. The military served it during World War II and even our allies enjoyed SPAM. Surplus SPAM from the soldiers made its way to the Pacific islands and therefore to Hawaii. Today in the Hawaiian Islands, people consume 6 million cans a year — six cans per person. They are the leading users of SPAM.
Hormel Foods introduced the first canned ham in 1926 and later developed SPAM, made from surplus pork shoulder. Today, you can buy SPAM Lite, SPAM Classic, SPAM Less Sodium, SPAM with cheese or bacon and many other kinds of SPAM. There are six servings in a can of SPAM Less Sodium, with a 2-ounce serving having 180 calories.
I remember serving SPAM to my family years ago and so do lots of other people. I would brown slices of SPAM in a frying pan and then place them in a baking dish and top each slice with a scoop of mashed potato and then pour celery soup (diluted with milk) over the top of this and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
SPAM can be substituted for hamburger or ham in chili, quiche, corn chowder, tacos, taco salad and many other dishes. Each year in Hawaii, residents have a SPAM JAM day in Waikiki with many booths featuring different SPAM dishes such as the following:
1 can of SPAM
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked rice (I use brown rice and partially cook first in the water)
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf, finely crushed (I put bay leaf in plastic bag and crush with rolling pin)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
ground red pepper
Lightly brown cubes of SPAM in pan with onion and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients, except red pepper, and bring to boil. Simmer, covered, until rice is cooked. Sprinkle lightly with red pepper and serve.
Until a few years ago, SPAM cans had this classic recipe:
1 12-ounce can SPAM
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Place SPAM on rack in baking pan. Score the top and stud with cloves. Combine rest of ingredients in bowl, stir until smooth and then brush over the SPAM. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, basting often. Slice and serve.
Ginger Isham was the co-owner of Maple Grove Farm Bed & Breakfast in Williston, a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road where she still lives.