Saturday, August 30, 2014

Retort Report: Hormel Okinawa Spam Curry And Glico Grand Chef

An excerpt from my overseas Spam popularity theory post, some thoughts on cultures that embrace Spam were:

1) Usually a place where the culture of consuming Pork has already been very popular...
1b) These places tend to have a geography, whether it be the lack of space (have dense forests) or topography where raising pigs for consumption is much more convenient than cows.
2) These places are usually subtropical, hot and humid climates where the task of preserving meats were already difficult and thus canning is popular.
3) Last but probably most influential... A history of U.S. Military occupation.

With these, my hometown Okinawa fits the bill quite well and we have here today a Spam Curry from Hormel Okinawa. The product found sitting next to the Habu Curry was purchased at a tourist gift shop and you can say for me had red flags all over it. But as a proud Spambassador (Spam Ambassador...) who enjoys spreading word of the great virtues of this classic pork luncheon meat brand product I give it a try, even ignoring Kat's not too flattering review I had remembered reading some time ago.

First I have to say that as much as Spam is a popular protein substitute in local dishes on the island, I can't recall it ever being used in Japanese curries and there's probably a good reason why. The porky umami-rich salty flavors that usually makes my mouth water when grilled crispy on the edges and in a sandwich here I felt completely clashes with the also savory curry roux with spices.

A rather odd combination of flavors that didn't complement, and although sometimes even seen in traditional soups, I feel the method of stewing rarely brings out the best in Spam. The Spambassador needs to keep it real and it was an unfortunate thumbs down for the tourist oriented catch. I'm sticking with the classic Chinsuko cookies as travel gifts, and if I maybe ever did have Spam with curry again, I imagine it'd be fried separately and plated on top?

Next up is a Glico product, the 'Curry Grand Chef'... (Beef - medium spice level.)

As I mentioned on my original spicy Beef Curry Lee post (30X post here), Glico isn't a retort curry powerhouse as compared to House and S&B, but it can't be said that they don't try to compensate with novelty. The Grand Chef comes with a small packet of Camembert Cheese flavored cream sauce.

A deep roux with lots of tender beef and the few mushroom pieces gives this a nice value. But while the first few spoonfuls were great, ultimately I felt it was too sweet for my tastes despite it being labeled as in medium heat level. The cheesy sauce also seemed to be flavored on the sweet side and was surprising for something I guess is marketed for an older audience. The rich flavors makes it otherwise an overall solid product but not something I'd be keeping stashed in my personal all-star curry cupboard.

Novelty or gimmick, I still give a tip of the hat to Glico for trying. Like how we would've never have gotten the now ubiquitous mayo-mustard beam packets in instant Yakisoba without companies willing to experiment with something new. With rice cooker on warm, I patiently await for the next big thing. :)


K and S said...

the spam one was definitely disappointing!

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kat, definitely agree. :(

KirkK said...

Hey Dennis - I've tried Spam in Curry and had the same thoughts as you. So I decided on doing a Spam Katsu Curry, which turned out to be one of my favorite preps.

Dennis K. said...

Hi Kirk - Nice, the thought crossed my mind too. I used to see pork luncheon meat fried as a katsu often in bentos on the island. Reminds me of the stuff OkiHwn used to post. Miss his blog!