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Would you believe me if I told you Gordon Ramsey became a chef because of SPAM? Believe it or not, it's true. If you haven't had the pleasure or trying this canned meat, have you wondered, what does SPAM taste like? We are going to cover how SPAM tastes, what it is, and ways to cook with it.
What you need to know about SPAM and different SPAM flavors
Despite being loathed by half the population, SPAM is currently the most popular canned cooked meat product out there. In fact, SPAM sales hit a record high during the pandemic since it's an affordable meat product with a long shelf-life. Plus, a lot of SPAM's hype is about the nostalgia it carries — especially if your family grew up on it.
In addition to being sold in more than 40 countries, a whopping 3.8 cans are consumed in the U.S. alone. That's some number.
So, what makes SPAM so special? Read ahead to know all about SPAM!
What does SPAM taste like?
The thing with SPAM is that it's either a hit or a miss. People who've grown around the meat find it delightful or absolutely disgusting. But whether you like it or not typically depends on your taste preferences.
The taste of SPAM can generally be described as salty and sort of spicy, with your traditional ham flavor. The classic SPAM is the best-selling flavor of all because it's high on salt. The moist sponge may resemble sausages in both taste and texture.
SPAM may be a bit too salty when eaten on its own, so it's best when eaten with other foods like rice, eggs, etc. The flavor also tends to change depending on how it is prepared and eaten.
Modern day SPAM, however, comes in many different flavors with added seasonings — Jalapeño, Black Pepper, Bacon, Cheese, Garlic, Teriyaki, Chorizo, Tocino — and makes for incredibly unique flavors. You can also get the Pumpkin Spice, a limited edition available only in September for Halloween.
What is SPAM made of?
Contrary to popular belief, SPAM is not the preservative-filled mystery canned meat you might assume. In reality, SPAM is made of six ingredients only! And the brand is transparent with them all. They are:
- Chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added.
- Salt (for binding, flavor, and firmness)
- Water (to help in mixing)
- Sugar (for taste)
- Sodium Nitrite (for color and as a preservative)
- Potato Starch(for thickening)
While all these ingredients are ridiculously simple, the only one that is somewhat controversial is sodium nitrite — a preservative to keep the meat fresh. But that is only there to maintain the meat's high-quality standard.
So, how do they make this delicious canned food?
For starters, pork is ground up. And along with ham meat, they are mixed with the other ingredients for around twenty minutes. As soon as the mixture reaches an appropriate temperature, it's placed into vacuum-sealed cans. The cans are then cooked, cooled down for around three hours and labeled. And viola!!! That's how your favorite canned meat is made.
How to make SPAM taste good
Whether it's essential in your pantry or you're trying it for the first time, cooking with SPAM doesn't take a genius.
First things first, open the can and turn it upside down on a plate. Keep in mind that you may need to shake the can to release the vacuum seal. Or you can just run a knife around the can edges. The meat will fall slowly onto your plate once the seal breaks. Don't mind the thin layer of goo. It's just the fats from the cooking process and is completely edible. You can also just go ahead and throw it away.
While you can scoop it into your mouth straight from the can, it tastes way better when cooked with other ingredients and turned into a delicious meal.
Try a SPAM sandwich with a thick slice of SPAM, cheddar cheese and eggs on toast for breakfast which literally takes less than 5 minutes to make and is super filling. For lunch, you can simply stir fry SPAM until they are golden and crisp. Now add it to your favorite fried rice recipe for a scrumptious SPAM fried rice meal.
For dinner, you can have a quick fried SPAM and potatoes meal by simply frying up a skillet of potatoes with SPAM. Or you can go all out and cook a fancy SPAM Sushi or Classic SPAM and Broccoli Stir-Fry. There is no end to SPAM recipes. Whether you are craving Mexican, Asian, Hawaiian, Japanese, or just a quick American fix, SPAM is what you need.
Want to cook like a pro? Try the Gordon Ramsay “SPAM Scrambled Eggs” and have a party of flavors in your mouth. Better yet, throw a party and serve a huge platter laden with SPAM, cheese, veggies such as olives, bell peppers, cucumber, and such and let your guests have the time of their life making their own Spamwich. How’s that for an idea?
The history of SPAM
So, what's the origin of SPAM? And how did it get so popular?
SPAM represents the successful repackaging of unwanted meats instead of the way before when it was just a word that meant unwanted emails. SPAM is actually an acronym for "Scientifically Processed Animal Matter."
A perfect blend of pork, water, salt, sugar, potato starch and sodium nitrite, Spam first came into the picture nearly 80 years ago during the Great Depression. It was essentially founded to provide a budget-friendly meal option to U.S. citizens.
Did you know that SPAM is one food that has saved nations? Yes, it’s true. It would have been virtually impossible to get through WW2 if it weren't for SPAM. Due to its long shelf life, SPAM was the only food sent to the troops. And after that, it didn't take long for it to infiltrate every pantry in the state.
It all started when the innovator George A. Hormel laid the first brick of Hormel Foods in 1891. Hormel wasn't just an entrepreneur, he was a risk-taker, and we can safely say that his risks paid off in gold. The first-ever ad for Hormel Foods appeared in 1911 in Ladies Home Journal.
However, the first canned ham didn't see the light of day till 1926, and soon after, in 1937, the famous SPAM followed. There was no looking back from that point onwards. Since the day it hit the shelves in 1937, SPAM has become a household name.
Who would have thought that canned meat could become such a big name worldwide?
SPAM Taste: Fun SPAM Facts
Whether you find it delightful or are absolutely disgusted about it, SPAM has been a part of American culture since the Great Depression, and it's not going anywhere.
For every group of people who can't stand SPAM's taste, there is always another group obsessed with the canned stuff. Since SPAM has gained a bit of a reputation as mystery meat, here are some little-known facts about this incredible canned product.
- Let's talk numbers first. Every hour, a whopping 44,000 cans are produced by Hormel Foods. That's nearly 122 million cans annually in the U.S. alone.
- There are endless opportunities for SPAM fans to celebrate their favorite canned meat product. There are SPAM festivals, SPAM recipe contests, and yes, even a free SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. Best of all, they even give out free sample bites, called Spamples!
- For all those who avoid SPAM for fear of the high sodium content, the good news is that Hormel also released a lower sodium version in 1986.
- Did you know that Hawaii alone consumes approximately 7 million cans of SPAM per year? In fact, Hawaii has the largest market for SPAM worldwide. And this is largely due to those Word War II soldiers on the Pacific coasts who fell in love with the stuff. Besides grocery stores, SPAM also is available at the regional McDonald’s locations and even on the menus at high-end restaurants.
- The Philippines can almost give Hawaii a run for their money in the SPAM department. The country is famous for a notable restaurant called "SPAM Jam," which serves a whole menu full of dishes featuring the meat. From SPAM spaghetti, SPAM eggs, and even a SPAM gift set, the Philippines is a heaven for all SPAM lovers.
- You can actually buy SPAM in pretty gift boxes with nine cans each in Korea. So if you’re wondering about what to give your SPAM lover friend, here's the perfect gift.
- The canned meat is cooked in its own can. Yes, that's right. All the ingredients are placed into the can raw, vacuum-sealed and then transferred along a conveyor belt to be cooked while in the can. While you could scoop SPAM straight out of the can, it tastes way better hot.
SPAM has had a bad rep, but mostly because it's cheap and long-lasting – just like anything else that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg. The truth is, it isn't the preservative-filled mystery canned food many believe it to be. Not to mention that if it was good enough for the soldiers fighting on the front lines in WWII, it's definitely good enough for us.
SPAM isn't just a can of meat; it's more of a lifestyle for Americans who've grown up eating the stuff. Whether you live on a budget or simply want to have a good old-fashioned American meal, SPAM will always come to the rescue.
What does SPAM Taste Like FAQs
SPAM is enjoyed by many people around the world. It is a matter of taste but most people would agree SPAM is good.
Yes, SPAM is cooked before it is packaged.
SPAM is already cooked before packaged so it can be eaten straight from the container.
According to Hormel Foods, there are 15 flavors of SPAM.
Easy fried SPAM
- 4 slices SPAM
- Heat large skillet over medium heat on the stove.
- Place pieces of SPAM in the skillet.
- Heat on one side for 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip over and cook another 2-3 pieces or until starting to turn slightly brown and heated through.
- Serve warm.
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