Serving up Spam…Hawaiian Style

Ice Cube once rapped that the status quo was not going to “have me broke eatin’ Spam and canned goods.”  His words, while somewhat prophetic, do not consider those who think differently.  There are those with money who have savored Spam for years.  More importantly, Spam helps those families struggling to put food on the table.  In Hawaii, Spam has enjoyed popularity since 1937 when Hormel Foods first started selling the product.  This meat even has its own festival in Waikiki every year called the Spam Jam®. According to the Spam Jam’s® website, Hawaiians consume “almost seven million cans of Spam every year.” Thus, it should come as no surprise that Hawaiians eat more Spam than “any other state in the United States.”

Spam is as versatile a meat as the different cultures and languages in Hawaii. Spam is great for grilling, marinating, and stir frying.  Spam burgers are all the rage and simple for tailgating.  Spam is also enjoyed in a Guisado, a tomato-sauced stew with simmered carrots, celery, peas, and onions that is served on steamed rice. Spam teriyaki or sweet and sour Spam on steamed rice is delicious. Spam Musubi is a seaweed-wrapped sushi. Pickled vegetables and egg may be added into the Musubi.  Another delectable dish is Spam Saimin.  In this hot soup dish, slices of Spam, scrambled egg, tofu, and blanched vegetables such as bok choy and watercress, are added into Ramin noodles that are cooked in an aromatic chicken, beef, pork, or seafood stock.  I have grown up eating all of these dishes in Hawaii, but my favorite is Spam fried rice.

Spam Fried Rice

Recipe by V.L. Batten


  •  1 can Spam
  • 2 cups of steamed rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 cup watercress stems
  • 1 cup cubed, extra-firm tofu
  • 3 scrambled eggs
  • 1 small chopped sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  •  1/3 cup of  Aloha Shoyu
  •  2 tablespoons of first-cold-press olive oil


Heat olive oil in a large, non-stick frying pan with chopped garlic and ginger over medium heat. Remove the garlic and ginger once the olive oil is flavored. Stir fry the steamed rice in this pan.  Hinode, a brand of rice, has both short and long grain.  It is best to use long grain rice rather than the sticky short grain rice so that the other ingredients can stir fry freely into the rice. Once the rice is finished stir frying, remove the pan from the heat until the other ingredients are prepared.  Then, in a separate pan, scramble three whole eggs.  If you prefer, use four egg whites for a lower-cholesterol fried rice.  Remove the scrambled eggs from this pan and set them aside in a bowl. In this same pan, add more olive oil if necessary and gently stir fry cubed cuts of Spam (use Turkey Spam for a lower calorie and lower cholesterol fried rice), tofu, bean sprouts, watercress, green onion and sweet onion, making sure the tofu keeps its cubed shape and the vegetables remain tender to a crisp.  When all of this is done, place the large frying pan with the stir fried, steamed rice back on low heat.  Add the tofu, vegetables, and scrambled eggs to the stir fried, steamed rice. Gently mix the vegetables into the rice while adding the 1/3 cup of Aloha Shoyu, a soy sauce made in Hawaii.  If necessary, add soy sauce to taste.  To reduce the sodium content of this dish, use lower sodium Aloha Shoyu.  The fried rice is done when all ingredients in the pan are hot and steamy.

Image Credit: Kanaka Menehune via Flickr

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