Everyone knows that Hawaii eats more Spam than any other state in the Union. And plenty of folks claim they’d never even think of eating this quintessential canned meat, but we think they’re going about it all wrong. Here’s how we do Spam in Hawaii!
Spam is always cooked. Always.
Is the Spam you’re thinking of just straight out of the can, a sort of pinkish meat cube? Virtually nobody in Hawaii would dream of eating Spam like that. At the very least, Spam is sliced and seared on a griddle or skillet, and often marinated—in teriyaki sauce, hot sauce, or even just “shoyu and sugar.” Cooking it brings out a nice, crispy outside, and a soft, juicy center.
Spam is breakfast!
Yep, that’s right. One of the most common uses for Spam is as a breakfast side—just like bacon or sausage—and it’s found that way on plenty of restaurant menus. You’ll also see Spam proudly advertised with fast-food breakfast fare. McDonald’s serves it along eggs and rice, and Burger King even puts it on a Croissan’wich. Try ‘em while you’re here—it’s definitely a one-of-a-kind Hawaii experience!
Spam is a snack!
One of the most ubiquitous island snacks is the Spam musubi—a slice of grilled (and usually marinated) Spam atop a block of rice, all wrapped in nori. People from all walks of life in Hawaii will grab a Spam musubi as a snack, or a quick lunch. While you can find these literally everywhere (there’s usually a stack of them next to convenience store registers), we like the deep-fried version found at Da Kitchen even better!
Spam is lunch!
Yep, Spam finds its way into more than breakfast dishes. A big slice of Spam is one of the best parts of a bowl of Saimin, and it’s served along other meat choices in bentos statewide. Hawaii’s favorite chain restaurant, Zippy’s, grills it up and serves it along with teriyaki beef, fried chicken, and breaded fish in its famous Zip-Pac. I also love the Spam katsu curry at Ramen-Ya, here in Kahului. Yes, that’s breaded, deep-fried Spam—and it’s a once-in-a-great-while treat!
Spam is home-cooking.
There’s a reason we stock up on Spam when there’s a threat of a dock strike or hurricane—despite it being a shelf-stable, emergency food, it’s also comfort food. My favorite way to cook it up for my family? Spam fried rice. You can find Spam in just about every flavor at the grocery store here (teriyaki, garlic, hot and spicy, black pepper), and I love to experiment with the different flavors when cooking up a big wok of fried rice.
If you happen upon Spam on the menu during a meal out on Maui, don’t eschew it without giving it a shot! You might even find you’ll want to recreate some of Hawaii’s favorite Spam recipes back home!