If you like your savory with a little sweet, dig into this artful party food based on a Hawaiian classic.
SPAM Musubirthday Cake
2cups sushi rice
2fresh shiso leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1fresh pineapple—trimmed, peeled, and cored
1/3cup (packed) light brown sugar
2tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
2cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 2 tsp.)
1heaping tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. cold water
1can (12 oz.) SPAM (tocino, teriyaki, or regular flavor), sliced vertically into 9 planks
3tbsp. furikake, preferably nori komi furikake
Wakame chazuke (seaweed strips with crispy rice balls), for topping (optional)
Edible flowers, for topping (optional)
1. In a rice cooker, cook the rice. Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350°. Place the rice in a large oiled baking dish. Top with 4 cups water. Seal the dish with parchment paper, then cover tightly with foil. Bake until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Mix the shiso leaves, if using, with the warm rice. Cover and keep the rice warm while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2. Line an 8-inch springform pan with plastic wrap, letting the wrap hang several inches over the pan’s rim. Coat the plastic wrap with cooking spray.
3. Slice four 1/2-inch-thick rings out of the cored pineapple, then roughly chop the remaining fruit.
4. Transfer about 1 1/2 cups of the chopped pineapple to the food processor; pulse until it reaches the texture of crushed pineapple. Measure 1 cup and transfer to a medium pan. Add 1/3 cup water, the tamari, brown sugar, vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer, stirring often, until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Set the teriyaki sauce aside.
5. Place the pineapple rings on a work surface and brush on both sides with the teriyaki sauce. Heat a grill, grill pan, or large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the pineapple and cook, turning once, until lightly browned and caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Place one pineapple ring in the center of the prepared pan. Halve three of the pineapple rings and arrange them, cut ends facing out, around the outside of the pan.
6. Place the Spam slices on a work surface and brush on both sides with the teriyaki sauce. Heat a grill, grill pan, or large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the Spam and cook, turning once, until lightly caramelized and crispy around the edges, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to cool, then halve each piece diagonally.
7. Spoon half of the cooked rice on top of the pineapple in an even layer. Using the back of a spoon or moistened hands, press the rice firmly into the pan to make an even, compact layer. Sprinkle with the furikake. Top with the Spam, arranging the slices to cover the rice completely, cutting to fit, as needed. Brush with more teriyaki sauce. Top with the remaining rice, pressing down firmly to make an even, compact layer. Fold the plastic wrap in, place a plate upside down on top of the rice, and press firmly to further compact the cake. (You want to make sure it stays together when you unmold it.) Chill the cake until firm, at least 2 hours.
8. Unwrap the plastic wrap on top of the rice, then place a large plate on top of the pan. Flip the plate over so the pan is on the plate. Carefully remove the side of the pan, then remove the plastic wrap. Garnish the cake with the wakame chazuke (or more furikake) and edible flowers, if using. Slice into wedges while cold and serve immediately or at room temperature. The slices can also be warmed in the microwave.