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Gourmet Spam Can Make You Think Twice About the Pork Product

Love it or hate it, Spam is here to stay — although you’re definitely in the majority if you really don’t care for it. For years, mainstream opinion has denounced the canned pork product, so much that its very name has been used as the slang term for undesirable email that you can’t avoid and just want to drag into the trash.

Spam, a product of Hormel Foods, is almost synonymous with “processed food,” yet with its unnaturally rectangular shape, it’s a product so peculiar that it has become sort of a cult food item. In many developing nations, particularly in the Pacific, Spam is a part of the culinary culture — a remnant of the days of American military bases that required cheap canned meat. I myself am Filipino-American and grew up with Spam, and I quite enjoyed it for breakfast. So I wasn’t too shy about trying a house-cured gourmet version of it.

“Spam really is a terrine — a French terrine,” says classically trained and seasoned Chef Edric Har (Le Bernardin, Veritas, Cru), who serves his own version of Spam at his restaurant, Brooklyn Wok Shop, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. “It’s ground pork, it’s cured, it’s cooked. I mean, it’s even the same thing in a loaf. It’s just got a bad rap, you know, because it was in a can.”

The idea to make a gourmet version of Spam — sans the congealed fat that comes in the canned version — came from Chef Edric’s wife, Melissa, who runs the restaurant with him. It’s all a part of their combined efforts to make cleaner, “upgraded” Chinese food, which they’ve dubbed “Chinese food 2.0.”

“I go to my butcher. I get a nice fatty pork butt, you know what I mean? I use butt. I mean, that’s the best part of the pig, I feel,” says Chef Edric. “It’s ground, I cure it, and I cook it.”

The end result of his specific blending of pork, salt and a little cornstarch, as a binding agent “to give it that Spammy, spongy kind of texture,” is a gourmet “Spam” that is sliced and cooked in the similar fashion as the real thing. It’s served on his brunch menu with his version of egg foo young, rice and taro home fries, as “Eggs & Spam.” Right now it remains on the brunch menu to see if it catches on, in hopes that even a gourmet version of Spam might be cult-worthy.

Final Verdict: 4 (out of 5) stars

If I didn’t know this was a gourmet, house-cured version of Spam made with fresh ingredients, I wouldn’t have known the difference. It’s salty and delicious, and it reminds me of childhood — but perhaps I’m a bit biased because I already have the acquired taste for it. However, diner Laura Pence, who had never had Spam before (canned or otherwise), sampled it — and she quite enjoyed it.

“I always thought Spam was a gelatinous type of fake ham,” says Laura. “Who knew that it is real pork and that I actually like it? It’s like a delicious, salty comfort food… The fact that I knew this version came from high-quality meat may have swayed my opinion, but I would be open to trying the real deal.”

This upgraded version of Spam tastes exactly like the real thing, which is a weird thing to say because which Spam is “real”: the one in the can, or the one made fresh with meat from a butcher? In any case, Brooklyn Wok Shop makes a mean salty pork terrine, which just so happens to be nicknamed “Spam.” And as Chef Edric says, “There’s really nothing better than pork and salt.”

Agreed. Now do we have to use another word for email we don’t want?

Erik Trinidad is the author of Fancy Fast Food: Ironic Recipes with No Bun Intended, based off his popular food humor blog, fancyfastfood.com.

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Comments (1587)

  1. Jeannette R Sutton posted 05/08/2012

    I have eaten Spam all my life . Have a great recipe using spam, Here are the ingredients. Spam, onions, greenpeper, celery, tomatoes and vermacelli. . Give it a try.

  2. foodpornwebsite posted 05/09/2012

    Hi Erik
    I wonder why I could never succeed making this Gourmet House Cured Spam From Brooklyn Wok Shop
    How did you do it? I'll try again for sure and this time I'll refer to your recipe as my guide :)
    Thanks also for the tempting food photos. Looks like they were made by professional. Have you ever heard about food photography site called <a&gt <a href="http://;http://www.foodporn.net” target=”_blank”>;http://www.foodporn.net ?
    Your pics should be on the Food Porn home page, that's for sure!

  3. Christina posted 05/09/2012

    I've never been one to want to eat spam, but this looks a whole lot better than just slices out of a can.

    Come check out the Mango Salsa I made. http://www.becauseofmadalene.com/2012/05/mango-sa

    Christina

  4. AngusParvo posted 05/10/2012

    Haters gonna hate, but Spam is delicious!

  5. Cindy posted 05/11/2012

    traditional Hawaiian breakfast! scambled eggs/rice and pan fried spam!! love it-and now Hormel has turkey spam!! even better..don't knock it till you try it not sure about mixing it into vermacelli tho-not sure I'm that open! :)

  6. Ginnie43 posted 05/12/2012

    Even growing up in Massachusetts we loved Spam. It is so versatile. Breakfast was Spam that had been dumped in egg then bread crumbs. Lunch was sandwich meat (Spam) sliced real thin and then sliced cheese, mustard and lettuce. Dinner was my favorite. That was Spam that had been diced up and put into a mixture of orange juice, brown sugar that was brought to boiling, then the Spam was put into the sauce after it had boiled down a bit. We had it with sweet potatoes or mashed white potatoes and always corn. Even my grandkids like what I had as a youngster.

  7. Frank posted 06/16/2012

    Being born in early 1930's raised in The Great Depression and WW2. Had to eat, what one could get and afford, not to mention that meat and all food for that was rationed. Spam was a staple food to an extent. My mother made it in various ways (fried with potatoes & vegatables as sides, spam stew sandwiches etc,).

    Another canned meat which is still available was Spiced Luncheon Meat. Anybaody hear of it? It was made by Armour Meat Packing Co. sold in Deli's and canned in simular cans to Spam. Armour called it TREET. Still sold in grocerey stores next to spam and Deli. In the deli it is called Luncheon Meat. Now thjat was gross compared to Spam.

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