Once upon a time, I had a craving for a spam musubi. Yes, that mysterious rectangular pink colored who-knows-what. If you didn’t grow up in Hawaii or haven’t spent a good amount of time there, the whole idea of a spam musubi sounds weird as hell. And it’s probably far from appetizing sounding: slices of spam cooked then sandwiched between two layers of sticky white rice, all wrapped in nori—seaweed—in a uniform rectangle fashion.
What to do, though, when you’re craving a food you grew up eating for nearly two decades, but no longer want to consume? I don’t say that from a holier-than-thou place. I grew up eating my fair share of fast food, over-processed ingredients. I could eat a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in one sitting all by myself from about the age of ten, on. One of my favorite after school snacks consisted of taking a piece of bologna, placing a slice of American cheese on it, then microwaving the whole concoction until the cheese was bubbly and the bologna crisp on the edges. We also ate home-cooked meals often, always including some vegetables, typically including rice as well. When I turned 12, I experimented off and on with vegetarianism, never for very long. Then came a phase of various eating disorders and often eating nothing, or purging the minimal junk food I did eat. The plus side of decade’s worth of hindsight is learning constantly to eat better. It’s still a struggle sometimes, but I have learned that moderation and cravings work together. When I’m craving something, overtly healthy or not, I try to listen, within reason.
So that goes back to the question of what to do when you’re craving something that you don’t exactly want to eat? Spam isn’t anywhere near the top of my list of “acceptable craving” foods. While the labels boast that this canned product consists of merely pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrate – no thanks! I turned to the inter-webs on the hunt for a vegetarian solution, so I could still fulfill my craving, but feel entirely less guilty about it later. I found a recipe from Renae of ieatfood.net and went for it. The results were… odd. But canned spam is pretty odd itself, so that seemed like an okay outcome. I mistakenly did not soak my soy beans or cook them ahead, which ended up giving my food processor a good beating. I don’t suggest that route. Although this “spam” comes out in a cylinder shape, it’s easy enough to cut it into rectangles for making spam musubis. Unlike my photo above, spam musubis are not usually served with a salad. If in Hawaii, you’ll find them by their lonesome, perfect for a hand-held snack. You can also fry up slices of the spam plain and eat them as you would regularly.
Adapted from I Eat Food
1 cup dried soybeans, soaked overnight then cooked
1 cup water
1 cup tomato juice
½ cup peanut butter
2 tsp. sea salt
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
1 cup cornmeal
Drain the soybeans then add to a food processor or high powered blender, along with the water, tomato juice, peanut butter, salt, chopped celery, chopped onion, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Pulse until you have a smooth mixture. Place in a large bowl, then stir in the cornmeal until it’s completely incorporated.
Oil two 14.5-oz cans (the size of canned soups, beans, tomatoes, etc.) with vegetable oil. Place half of the mixture into each can, then cover with foil or parchment paper and secure with a rubber band.
Place the cans in a dutch oven or large pot with enough water so they’re 1/3 of the way submerged. Bring the water up to a boil, then cover the pot and reduce your heat to simmering. Steam the cans for AT LEAST 2 hours. Make sure to check your water level periodically, being sure not to let it all evaporate off.
Remove the cans from the pot, allowing them to cool until you can easily handle them. The easiest way to remove the vegan spam is to turn over the can, use a can opener to remove the bottom of the can, using it to push the spam through the other opening.
You suddenly have cylinder-shaped vegan spam. Use as you wish! : ) Renae has an excellent recipe for vegan spam musubis if you choose to venture there.