Adjust your spam filter, this one goes in your lunch box!
Fusion-HA! is a food series experiment. It is the synthesis of two distinctly different dishes discovered during my travels in two separate culinary world’s creating a new dimension of flavor. Sometimes they’re good!
Spam musubi makes use of this preserved meat loaf in a can and takes it to sushi school! I discovered this treat in spam crazy Hawaii. The Aloha state sandwiches a slice of fried spam, furikake seasoned sushi rice and a seaweed wrap to create what is essentially a pocket sized spam meal that can be found in restaurants and 7-11’s throughout the islands! It may sound like an odd creation but ask anyone who has sampled it and they’ll dance like an ewok on feast night!
I recently enjoyed a dim sum lunch on an island far away from Hawaii, Montreal Island. My dim sum favourite happens to be shrimp stuffed steamed eggplant! And I wanted to feature this gorgeously violet hued vegetable. But wait… internet’s wookiepedia classifies eggplant as a fruit! Deceiving. It doesn’t matter, I was in search of a vessel to give this exclusively Hawaiian corner store meal-to-go a little more texture! Inspired my Japanese tempura batter and having recently acquired some Japanese spices, I decided that coating slices of eggplant with panko breadcrumbs would add a satisfying crispy crunch to the mostly soft textured spam musubi! Let’s dive right into the recipe!
- Aloha Mango Pineapple Teriyaki glaze from Hawaii can be substituted for your favorite teriyaki glaze. Tonkatsu Maisen spice shaker from the Tonkatsu Maisen chain in Tokyo Japan, known for their delicious panko breaded, juicy pork cutlet (tonkatsu). Furikake seasoning from the local grocer’s “ethnic” section.
Cooking Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 8 humans or 2 Hawaiian, scruffy looking, nerf herders!
4 cups white rice
1 asian eggplant, sliced diagonally in one half inch ovals
1 can of SPAM
1 half cup of extra virgin olive oil
10 sheets of sushi nori roasted seaweed paper
1 half cup of white flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup of teriyaki glaze
Furikake seasoning ¤
Rice seasoning shaker
Tonkatsu Maisen Seasoning salt or favorite seasoning salt
Spam Musubi Press Maker ¤
Alternatively, you can make one out of the empty spam can by cutting out the bottom to create the mold but be very cautious of the sharp edges. I like my fingers and the press works very well!
1- Cook the white rice in a rice cooker. If you have never used one before, you can follow these helpful simple instructions here. If you don’t eat rice weekly, then you can make it on the stovetop as described here. But really, if you like rice, the rice cooker is INDISPENSABLE!
2- Wash the eggplant and slice them diagonally about the same thickness as a slice of spam. You can use the can of spam as a guide. Lay them flat and sprinkle with salt to prepare for frying. I found a pretty thorough test for the debate on the reason for salting eggplants from the LA Times here. (The short answer is that salting helps the texture when frying.)
3- In a frying pan add a thin layer of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the spam slices until browned on both sides. Brush the slices with a thin layer of teriyaki sauce and flip over to caramelize for 20 seconds on each side being cautious not to burn. Set aside. (I like this teriyaki sauce because it lingers on the side of sweet since my spam and eggplant will already be salty!).
4- Setup 3 bowls for as your eggplant breading station. The first bowl will be your flour, the second the egg wash and the third your breadcrumbs. Pat dry the eggplant with paper towels and place a frying pan on medium high heat. Dredge the eggplant in the flour, coating lightly but thoroughly. Followed by the egg wash. Followed by the panko bread crumbs. Fry on a generous layer of olive oil for about a minute or until golden. Do 2 or 3 at a time otherwise you’ll be prone to burning… ask me how I know! Place on a cooling rack and season lightly with tonkatsu maisen seasoning salt. (This particular seasoning salt is delicately sour and has tiny pieces of nori reminding this musubi snack of its Japanese panko breaded pork chop roots! If you can find one locally, let me know!)
5- Now we’ll setup your musubi station. Lay out your nori sheets, your rice, your spam, your furikake rice seasoning, your eggplant, and a small bowl of water. Place your musubi maker press in the centre of a nori sheet. Scoop about a 1/4 cup of rice and press down firmly until flat. Sprinkle some furikake on top. Layer a spam slice on top followed by another 1/4 cup of rice and press down firmly on the top while you pull the frame up and off. Top with a slice off eggplant and grab both side of the nori sheet to “lock” it together by dabbing the edges with some water. Repeat 10 more times.
You can eat this burrito style like this or you can cut it in half for sushi musubi style. Best served right away so the eggplant is at its crispest or you can wrap it in cling wrap just like your local Hawaiian corner store!
Now your guilty spam pleasure whispers Japanese and gets friendly with a violet vixen! Aubergine Spam Musubi… take a bite and you’ll instantly feel like you’re on Cloud City!
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