The Lazy Cook ponders ways to cook Spam (so that it doesn’t suck).

Once in a while the Lazy Cook finds her taste for the usual main dish proteins (bean/rice, chicken, pork, beef, fish) has gone off the rails. It might be the restlessness I often feel in the Fall season. It might be the need for a change after a summer of cooking and eating mostly fresh foods. Whatever the reason, I found myself picking up a can of Spam from our cellar stores just the other day.

Winter brings ice storms to our state; nothing as lovely or prosaic as snow. Ice that brings down sappy pines en masse. Ice that weighs on power lines to the point of a sudden brittle snap. Ice that routinely results in power outages lasting for days. No power, no fridge. Fresh foods are a luxury at that point. And living on outlying county roads mean we don’t get service until the main byways have been dealt with, so there is no “running over to the store”. Hence the Spam and other goods both processed and home canned, waiting in our cellar.

The Spam was purchased from the local Big Lots. It’s the 70th Anniversary Edition. And the 3 collector’s cans have graphics and background designs from a variety older advertisements. Snazzy cans aside, it was very….inexpensive.

70th Anniversary

70th Anniversary

No, I don’t think its 70 year old Spam. At least I hope not.

So, when I picked it up the other day, I realized I hadn’t actually eaten spam for about half the span of their entire existence as a brand. I had used it as a worm substitute for fishing in the 80’s by cutting into long strips and microwaving it until it was shriveled and tough. The fish really like it.

For our dinner, however, I figured that the basic frying-a-slice would be the way to go. Sides for the meal were home canned collards with balsamic vinaigrette, pintos and rice. I had wanted cornbread, but found myself without the eggs necessary to make a loaf. As for cooking the Spam,. I did make a last minute executive decision to slather brown mustard on one side, then flip it over to fry the mustard onto the meat. It created a brownish, crispy crust for the meat and ended up being a good addition.

My first bite, while not exactly a spit-take, found me resisting the urge to open my mouth over my plate so I could push the meat out with my tongue.

Salt. Lots of salt. Seemingly more salt than your average country ham. The Mister’s family history of heart disease means I only add small amounts of sea salt to recipes and those partaking in the meal are free to salt as they will. He wryly commented, after his first taste, that this meal comprised the whole of his weekly sodium intake.

Then there’s the texture issue. The Mister doesn’t seem to heed textural issues in the same way I do. So he had little to say on the matter. But I don’t think it’s putting too fine a point on it to call the texture Horrific.

Meat has a certain resistance in the mouth; both to the teeth and to the tongue. It is not supposed to feel like a slimy, chunky Jello. It is not supposed to be meat pudding. Even Livermush, which is a loaf of ground pig’s liver, head-meat and cornmeal (or rice) has a density and heft that Spam lacks.

The, nominal “best parts”, were the slices that were thinner with more of the moisture cooked out. They were slightly chewy with a tiny crust of resistance to the teeth. So the dinner challenge became: “Ways to cook spam so that it doesn’t suck.

The brainstorming session left us with some interesting ideas like Spam Sushi. Coat small rectangles of Spam with Wasabi, fry them, then roll them up in sticky rice with a vegetable, say a spicy Chow-Chow that will cut the salt and compliment the ham.

Or cubed fried Spam in Kraut

Or Budget Meal with fried cubed Spam.  Now Budget Meal is a favorite if, as yet, untried recipe from Goya Foods. I was making hummus one day using dried Goya Chickpeas. While waiting for the peas to cook, I was perusing the plastic bag and spied their suggestion for an inexpensive meal. It was called “Budget Meal” and was basically a ground chickpea soup with hotdogs cut up and added in. Even though I am loathe to consider Budget Meal as something I would actually cook, I can see how the Spam would be a good hotdog substitute.

Note that each recipe requires the Spam be fried.

The other option we came up with was to slice the Spam and immerse it in tap water. The actions of reverse osmosis should pull some of the salt out of the meat, much like the process used with salted pole beans or country ham. What would we be left with then? As close as I can figure it would be Pork Jello. Not an aspic, mind you. Pork. Jello.

The Lazy Cook welcomes any adventurous (and printable) suggestions as to what she might do with the remaining cans of Spam in her stores.


1 Comment

  1. davisw said,

    October 16, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    my mom always did the Hawaiian kabob — spam and pineapple on toothpicks

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