Some of you may not know that, for over 30 years, I lived in the Land of Aloha, Hawaii. Besides the great weather and people, there are plenty of small little drive-ins, cafes, restaurants where you can eat some of the local food. This is especially important since Hawaii’s primary industry is tourism and all those great people want to experience the local cuisine.
The locals love their “plate lunches”. What is that? If you go to one of the small drive-ins, you could probably get a plate with two scoops rice, macaroni or potato salad, and some kind of protein such as teriyaki chicken, meat or fish. There’s also sushi, poke (pronounced po-key) which is actually raw fish mixed with vegetables, and perhaps some kind of marinated vegetable like seaweed or kim chee.
One thing that Hawaii people love is spam! Yes, SPAM. In fact, Hawaii has been called the spam capital of the world. There are aisles in grocery stores just full of different flavored spam. OMG! But my favorite use of spam was always spam musubi. Basically, it’s seasoned rice formed into a ball or square, topped with a slice of cooked spam, then wrapped with dry seaweed. Below is a recipe if you are adventurous enough to try.
- 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
- 2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 (12 ounce) container fully cooked luncheon meat (e.g. Spam)
- 5 sheets sushi nori (dry seaweed)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Soak uncooked rice for 4 hours; drain and rinse.
- In a saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar, and set aside to cool.
- In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Slice luncheon meat lengthwise into 10 slices, or to desired thickness, and marinate in sauce for 5 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook slices for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Cut nori sheets in half and lay on a flat work surface. Place a rice press in the center of the sheet, and press rice tightly inside. Top with a slice of luncheon meat, and remove press. Wrap nori around rice mold, sealing edges with a small amount of water. (Rice may also be formed by hand in the shape of the meat slices, 1 inch thick.) Musubi may be served warm or chilled.
When you go to Hawaii, make sure, after you have eaten one of these plate lunches or spam musubi, you say “ono-licious” or “broke the mouth”. Both mean that you particularly LOVE what you have just eaten; that it was delicious; that your mouth is tingling. Personally, I like ono-licious – I’m sure you can figure out why. (HINT: my last name!!)