What’s Cookin’: Cooking with Spam

Celebrate Spam’s 80th anniversary.

It’s a Spam jam: Spam turned 80 on July 5, and has sold more than 8 billion cans worldwide.

By Donna Zitter Bordelon

Happy belated birthday, Spam! The canned luncheon meat turned 80 on July 5, and has sold more than 8 billion cans worldwide to date.

Created by the Hormel Corporation, Spam fed our Allied troops during WWII. Hormel received letters from U.S. soldiers describing it as “meatloaf without basic training” and “ham that didn’t pass the physical.” Soldiers introduced Spam in Hawaii, where its popularity is still celebrated even today at an annual Waikiki Spam Jam festival.

The British comedy troupe Monty Python, back in the day, did a BBC television skit in a cafe with Vikings annoyingly repeating “Spam, Spam, Spam…” that inspired early internet users to call unwanted electronic messages “spam.”

The origin of the name Spam could be a contraction of “spiced ham.” However, Hormel representatives report, “The real answer is known by only a small circle of former Hormel food executives. And probably Nostradamus.”

SPAM FRIED RICE

4 cups cooked white rice (cold)

5 Tbsp. canola, divided

2 eggs, beaten

1 medium carrot, diced

1 cup frozen peas

3 green onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 medium/large shrimp, chopped

3–4 fresh mushrooms, cut coarsely (about 1 cup)

1 can Spam (12 oz.), cut into small cubes

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Extra green onions, chopped

Cook rice in half water and half chicken broth, and refrigerate until cold.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a wok/large skillet. Add beaten eggs and rotate pan to spread eggs thin. Cook until just firm. Transfer to a plate, chop, and set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in the wok/skillet over medium-high heat, and add the carrots and peas. Stir and toss for about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic and green onions, and stir and toss for about 30 seconds.

Add the shrimp pieces, and stir and toss for 30 seconds until shrimp are pink.

Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 1 minute or until mushrooms are softened.

Add the Spam. Stir and toss until heated.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in wok over high heat. Add the rice and stir and toss for a few minutes, breaking up the rice.

Add the soy sauce and mix.

Add the Spam/vegetable mixture and chopped eggs, and stir and toss until thoroughly mixed.

Garnish with green onions.

MARK’S PENNE SPAM

1 lb. penne pasta

1 onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 can Spam (12 oz.), cubed

1 jar 3 Cheese Marinara Sauce (24 oz.)

¾ cup red wine (cabernet, merlot or burgundy)

Water

3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced or 3 tsp. dried

1 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced or 1 tsp. dried

½ cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup shredded sharp cheese

Cook penne until al dente. Drain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a saucepan, saute onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent. Add garlic, then cubed Spam. Stir and cook until Spam is heated.

In a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, combine the penne, onions, garlic and Spam.

Add the Marinara Sauce.

Using the empty sauce jar, add ¾ cup wine and enough water to fill the jar. Add jar contents to the baking dish.

Add the parsley and basil.

Mix all ingredients together and top with the mozzarella and sharp cheeses.

Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15–20 minutes.

Remove lid/foil and bake 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Jazz Age on the Delaware:

If “mystery meat” (as Spam was once known) is not your thing, take a step back in time to the decade known as the Roaring ’20s. You won’t have to walk too far if you come to Glen Foerd on the Delaware River this Saturday, July 29 (11 a.m. — 5 p.m.). In fact, you might want to Fox Trot over to the pie contest being held that day to sample some of the entries vying for 1st place.

Eat well, live long, enjoy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Times, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002)

Don’t forget:

Send in your favorite recipe for a chance to win a $100 ShopRite gift card. Mail your recipe to Readers’ Recipes, 2 Executive Campus, Suite 400, Cherry Hill, NJ 08002. Or email your recipe to WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com. Please include name, address and telephone number.