THere is at least one hint of a bright side 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 junk cooked pork doesn’t have to be a compromise. Thanks to American soldiers, who introduced it during World War II to the countries of Asia and the Pacific, the product has become a mainstay in their kitchen. During the Chuseok Festival, supermarkets in South Korea are filled with elaborate spam gift sets. In 2014, Burger King in Japan introduced the cheeseburger and spam burger. The largest consumers of spam globally are residents of the small Pacific island of Guam. Not only do they each eat an average of 16 cans per year, but the spam produces a variety that is particular to islanders only.
Basically, you can do more with a mailbox than you thought. Here, top chefs and food experts explain how they like to use it.
French fries with kimchi cheese sauce
Judy Jo, Seoul Bird, London
Spam has a long and beloved history in Korea because of the war. My mother used to feed me fried spam and eggs for breakfast, and rice porridge studded with cubes of spam as an after-school snack.
This is a recipe from my book Judy Joo’s Korean Soul Food. To make the cheese kimchi sauce, whisk 1 tablespoon cornmeal and 340 ml evaporated milk in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Turn up the heat. Once the mixture is thick and boiling, reduce the heat and stir in 125g grated cheddar cheese and 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped cabbage kimchi. Cook until soft and velvety. Remove from heat, and store in a warm place.
Meanwhile, cut a block of spam lengthwise into six slices, and cut each slice into four matchsticks. Prepare three dip stations: 80g of flour, 2 scrambled eggs, and 160g of panko breadcrumbs. Cover your spam sticks with each individually. Heat 10cm of oil in a large, heavy saucepan to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F / Gas 4. Working in small batches, fry spaghetti until golden brown. Place it on a rack to drain the oil. Serve immediately with kimchi cheese sauce on the side.
Spam jam sandwich 3.0
Katie Harrington, Nosh, Leeds
We’re known locally for our love of spam, and we cook up many variations of our favorite pork product. Our bestseller is Spam jam 3.0. We bake three slices of bread, buttering them. We start by smothering the bottom slice in chili jam, then top it with fried cheddar cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. Add another layer of toast, then add two hash browns and two tablespoons of cooked beans before topped with the last slice of toast.
Katsu Kari is unwanted
Simon Rimmer, Greens, Didsbury
Katsu curry works with just about everything, and Spam is no exception. The slightly peppery pork flavor topped with crunchy panko breadcrumbs is a match made in heaven.
Cook some chopped onion, garlic and carrots until soft. Add 20g of flour and 25g of curry powder, then gradually stir in 750ml of chicken stock, 15g of honey, 15ml of soy and 5g of garam masala. Simmer for 20 minutes, blending until smooth, then thicken with a paste of 1 teaspoon cornmeal mixed with 50 ml of water and simmer for another five minutes.
In the meantime, cut your spam into strips. Mix 100g of flour with 5g of salt and 15g of curry powder. Dip the spam slices in the flour, beat the eggs, then the panko and fry for three minutes. Drain and pour over the curry sauce. Serve with some rice and chips, and enjoy the dish.
Helen Graves, Dangerous Sandwich Newsletter
A bánh mì is one of the best sandwiches in the world. Spam works because it’s so salty and delicious, so it contrasts with the crunchy pickles, chili peppers, and sprigs of fresh herbs that generally make up the classic Banh Moo.
Mix 2 tablespoons of ground black pepper, 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a large clove of crushed garlic together, then rub 1 cm thick slices of spam and let it marinate for an hour. Then fry the slices in a small amount of vegetable oil until golden and crunchy on both sides. Label the kitchen paper.
Warm the baguette a little in the oven, brush with mayonnaise, add spam, then add coriander, mint leaves, red pepper slices, red onion slices, seeded cucumber slices, carrots and daikon pickles to taste.
Ben AprilSorted Food website
This is our recreation of a classic Hawaiian street food item, much loved [in the US state] That there’s even a National Musubi Spam Day every August.
Cut the spaghetti into eight rectangles and sear them on both sides for one to two minutes in a hot skillet. Put the slices on an oven tray, return the pan to the heat and add 2 cloves of garlic, 1 cm of ginger and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. When fragrant, add ½ teaspoon each of chili flakes and 1 tablespoon each of oyster sauce, sweet soy sauce, fish sauce, mirin, black vinegar, and honey and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Load the spam slices back into the pan and flip to coat them with the sticky glaze. Remove pan from heat.
On a clean cutting board, cut four sheets of nori in half. Lay the nori rectangles out and place a tablespoon of cooked rice on the bottom quarter of each leaf. Wet your hands slightly with water and flatten the rice so that it is the same thickness and dimensions as a piece of spam. Place a slice of glazed spam on each rice mattress, then carefully wrap a sheet of nori around the rice and spam to form your own musubi.