Okinawa Cooking, Part 4
Spam (pork luncheon meat)
Nori (dried seaweed)
You can’t mention Okinawa cooking without an obligatory nod to pork luncheon meat. The kings of this canned mixture of processed pork and protein remain Spam in the USA and Tulip in Denmark. The origins in Japan lie in its wide distribution by the U.S. Army after World War II.
Every Okinawa breakfast joint worth its salt serves up “pork tamago” (fried Spam and scrambled eggs), and Okinawan families put it in their champuru and miso soup. This column focuses on the convenience store treat, onipo (short for onigiri pork), which is not to be found on the mainland, but oddly enough can be bought at stores in Hawaii under the aliases “supamu-musubi” or “supamusubi.”
Canned pork is high in salt and packed with fat, so locals point to it as a cause of obesity among the islanders. However, for outdoor enthusiasts who need high-energy, high-salt foods to replace what sweats out, Spam can be a good option. If cooked over low heat, there’s no need to oil up the pan, and no seasoning salt is necessary.
We are all familiar with the relentless torrent of “spam” e-mails that clog our inboxes. During World War II, Allied Forces relied on Spam almost exclusively for feeding the troops. There was particular revulsion among the British soldiers leading to the term being used for things sent but unwanted.
The meat has even taken hits from the famous British Monty Python skits where Spam is the only thing on the menu. So we can understand if some British readers may have a particular aversion to this month’s delicacy.
Slice the canned pork and fry on low heat to allow the fat from the meat to come out. Use this fat to cook up a thin omelet.
Place nori on a sheet of plastic wrap, add the pork and then the omelet. Top off with the rice and wrap to eat later.