August 19, 2011

Spam. No, Seriously.

I don’t think I am going to blow anyone away with this next statement, but SPAM is super high in sodium. One serving (and remember, there are usually multiple servings in one package), contains over 770mg of sodium. Even the oxy-moronic Low Sodium SPAM (really?) has over 530mg of sodium. So unless you want to eat one serving of SPAM musubi for your entire day’s worth of food, I’d suggest leaving SPAM on the shelves.


Last weekend, I attended a dinner party. More like a potluck. And the theme was SPAM. Going traditional was seriously frowned upon by the group. So instead of SPAM and pineapple pizza, more curious concoctions (like SPAM carbonara, SPAM empanadas, SPAM latkes, and SPAM pate) were afoot.

And let me back up by saying that this kind of get together is not strange in any way. A few weeks ago, the theme was nachos and before that, the apocalypse. So SPAM was just a part of the natural progression. And the crazier the challenge, the better the food. Or at least the memories.

Even with the high sodium content of the star ingredient, there was no way that I was going to shy from this culinary opportunity. If anything, I was even more determined to make it work. Which lead me to putting meat in a blender. Specifically browned and seasoned pork butt. Which, again, let me stress, got put into an actual blender and pulsed until it formed a silky smooth meat puree.

If you aren’t puking yet, you’re my new best friend.

The thought, “this is just like making pate,” ran continuously through my mind as I packed the now blended pork butt into a little tart pan. I covered it with plastic wrap, said a prayer, and then stuck it in the fridge.

Two hours later, I had my very own Salt-Free SPAM cake. In the shape of a flower. Because I am classy like that.

And for a second time today, I’m going to state the obvious and tell you that the recipe wasn’t perfect. When I tried to slice and fry the SPAM, it immediately fell apart. And the texture was far less desirable than plain ground meat (see: blender).

So next time–yes, there will be a next time–I will have to use some sort of emulsifier or glue, like cream or egg, to keep that SPAM cake together.

But the attempt was well worth it. Even with my chunky, strangely monotone SPAM, I made fried rice with pineapple, a tamarind “soy sauce,” and lots of bright veggies. It was all edible. So points for that. And as usual, the goal was more about overcoming sodium obstacles than creating a shelf-worthy salt-free SPAM. So on that end, I think the mission was completed as well.

Of course, the great lesson is to not shy away from the impossible. And with every attempt, you’ll either get closer to achieving your goal. Or you’ll realize that eating a whole, juicy pork chop is way better than putting it in a blender.

Chow on.


Dan Cabrera August 19, 2011 at 1:44 pm

As my old man says, “every mistake is a new recipe.”

Keep up the good writing and the good cooking, Jess.

So.Fla. DC

Magdalena CAbrera August 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

We are all inspired by your adventurous spirit, SG!

organicallynerdy August 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

A friend suggested your blog to me after she saw an article in Better Homes and Gardens. My husband was diagnosed with a kidney disease (Acute IgAN) earlier this year and we have been trying to lower our sodium intake. Hopefully I can gain some new info and recipes from your blog.

Oh and my mother-in-law, who is Filipino, uses Spam in her fried rice (all the time), and everyone LOVES it.

sodium girl August 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

I’m here to help! If there is anything in particular you and your husband are yearning for, let me know. And together, we’ll salt-free those recipes!

kchang August 25, 2011 at 10:59 pm

OMG. Jess – being from Hawaii, I grew up on the pink stuff (ate some in Hawaii just today). Bravo for tackling this seemingly impossible task!

Lee Martines September 26, 2011 at 10:16 am

Just returned from visiting family in Italy. They have no idea what low sodium or no sodium is. On the day I was to leave I had a bad attack of Meniere’s and was so incapicitated I could not get on a plane. Thank God for the USA but where do I find no salt or low soduim foods. I usually manage here but I want to do more. These attacks are so bad and debilatating

sodium girl September 28, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Here’s something that might help. You know that list I bring with me to restaurants, well I have it translated into several languages just for the purpose of traveling and communicating. Also, if you can make a connection with someone that lives in the town you visit, perhaps they can be your low-sodium guide. I was able to go to Thailand last year (something I thought would be impossible), because my friend who is from there basically made sure I had something that met my requirements for every meal! It’s added work, but it opens the world back up to you.

Check out this post on traveling abroad for more tips:

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