There is at least a hint of a silver lining to the cost of living crisis. That’s right, spam is back. According to Waitrose, sales are up 36% this year as consumers turn their backs on more expensive fresh meat.
But spam (canned cooked pork) doesn’t have to be a compromise. Thanks to American GIs, which introduced it during World War II to Asia-Pacific nations, the product has become a mainstay in their cuisine. During the Chuseok festival, supermarkets in South Korea are overflowing with elaborate spam gift sets. In 2014, Burger King in Japan introduced a spam cheeseburger. The largest consumers of spam worldwide are the inhabitants of the small Pacific island of Guam; not only do they eat an average of 16 cans a year, but Spam produces a special variety just for the islanders.
Basically, you can do more with a can of spam than you might have thought. Here top chefs and food experts explain how they like to use it.
Spam fries with cheesy kimchi sauce
Judy Joo, Bird of Seoul, London
Spam fries with sauce. Photography: The Food Studio/SPAM®
Spam has a long and beloved history in Korea due to the war. My mother used to give me fried Spam and eggs for breakfast, and rice porridge dotted with Spam cubes for an after-school snack.
This is a recipe from my book Korean Soul Food by Judy Joo. To make the cheesy kimchi dip, mix 1 tablespoon cornmeal and 340ml evaporated milk in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Turn up the heat. Once the mixture has thickened and bubbled, reduce the heat to low and add 125g of shredded cheddar cheese and 3-4 tablespoons of shredded cabbage kimchi. Cook until smooth and velvety. Remove from heat and store in a warm place.
Meanwhile, cut a Spam block lengthwise into six slices and cut each slice into four equal matchsticks. Set up three dipping stations: 80g flour, two beaten eggs and 160g panko breadcrumbs. Cover the spam sticks with each one in turn. Heat 10cm of oil in a wide, heavy-based saucepan to 180C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Working in small batches, fry the Spam sticks until golden brown. Place on a rack to drain the oil. Serve immediately with the cheesy kimchi sauce on the side.
Spam Jam Sandwich 3.0
Katie Harrington, Nosh, Leeds
Spam Jam Sandwich 3.0. Photography: Courtesy of Nosh
We are well known locally for our love of spam and cook many variations of our favorite porky item. Our best seller is the Spam jam 3.0 sandwich. Toast three slices of bread and spread them abundantly with butter. We start by coating the bottom slice with chili jam and then top with fried Spam and shredded cheddar cheese. Add another layer of toasted bread and then add two hash browns and a couple tablespoons of the baked beans before topping with the last slice of toasted bread.
Junk katsu curry
Katsu curry works with just about everything, and spam is no exception. That slightly spicy pork flavor wrapped in crispy panko breadcrumbs is a perfect match.
Cook some chopped onion, garlic and carrot until soft. Add 20g flour and 25g curry powder, then gradually add 750ml chicken stock, 15g honey, 15ml soybeans and 5g garam masala. Simmer for 20 minutes, blend until smooth, then thicken to a paste of 1 tsp cornmeal mixed with 50ml of water and simmer for another five minutes.
Meanwhile, cut your Spam into strips. Mix 100g of flour with 5g of salt and 15g of curry powder. Dip the Spam strips in flour, then in beaten egg, then in panko and fry for three minutes. Drain and pour over the curry sauce. Serve it with some rice and chips, and bask in the adulation.
Helen Graves, Serious Sandwiches newsletter
Spam me. Photography: Courtesy of Helen Graves
A bánh mì is one of the world’s elite sandwiches. The spam works because it’s salty and so flavorful, so it stands in contrast to the crunchy pickles, chili, and sprigs of fresh herbs that usually make up a classic bánh mì.
Mix 2 tablespoons of coarse ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a large clove of crushed garlic, then rub onto 1cm thick slices of Spam and marinate for one hour. Then fry the slices in a small amount of vegetable oil until golden brown and crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
Lightly warm your baguette in the oven and then brush with mayonnaise, add Spam and then add coriander and mint leaves, sliced red chilli, thinly sliced red onion, seeded cucumber slices, carrot and daikon pickle as desired.
ben ebrellclassified food website
Spam Musubi. Photograph: Philip Kinsey/Alamy
This is our recreation of a much-loved classic Hawaiian street food. [in the US state] that there is even a National Musubi Spam Day every August.
Cut the Spam into eight rectangles and brown on both sides for 1 to 2 minutes in a hot pan. Place the slices on a baking tray, return the pan to the heat and add 2 garlic cloves, 1 cm of ginger and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. When fragrant, add ½ teaspoon chili flakes and 1 tablespoon each oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, black vinegar, and honey, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until reduced by half. Reload the Spam slices into the pan and flip them over to coat them with the sticky glaze. Remove pan from heat.
On a clean cutting board, cut four sheets of nori in half. Arrange the nori rectangles and load 1 heaping tablespoon of cooked rice onto the bottom quarter of each sheet. Lightly moisten your hands with water and flatten the rice so that it is the same thickness and dimensions as a piece of Spam. Place a slice of the glazed Spam on top of each rice pad, then carefully roll the nori sheet around the rice and Spam to form your musubi.