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Product Review: SPAM® Tocino

Hormel hasn’t stopped appeasing Hawaii folks with their still relatively new SPAM® Teriyaki flavor, as recently hitting store shelves we now have SPAM® Tocino Seasoning flavor. Which is just as fitting, being the Aloha state has a significant population of Filipinos.


Tocino (Filipino style seasoned pork). Image courtesy of WikiHow.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Tocino is a Filipino style pork adopted from the Spanish that’s typically made of belly pork that’s been marinaded/cured with a sweet mixture of  (for example) Anise wine, annatto, water, sugar, and salt, having a flavor profile sort of like Chinese Charsiu. Not really, but kinda’.


Tocino +Sinangag + Itlog = Tocilog. Image courtesy of Kusina 101

Tocino is typically served for breakfast as a “bacon” if you will in a dish called “Tocilog”, cooked either boiled or fried, and served along with eggs and rice. You can find Tocino vacuum-packed in the fresh & frozen meat section at most grocery stores that sell asian imported foods. Jolly Bee even has a Tocino “Breakfast Joy” dish on their menu.

SPAM Tocino hit the store shelves for the first time at Don Quijote (Kaheka) about two months ago, and finally went on sale this week for $1.88, regular $2.99 each.


SPAM® Tocino Limited Edition. Image courtesy of ThePeachKItchen.com.

The furthest I could find as far marketing information, is that SPAM® Tocino was available for a limited time in the Philippines in 2014, and that Hormel currently lists it as being at “limited availability in stores” status. There’s also this interesting “SPAM Tocino — A Flipino Love Story” on FB you can check out. Other than that, I don’t have any other details regarding SPAM® Tocino, as I’ve attempted to contact Hormel before several times for other products, with NO response from them. Sigh.

Enough about marketing, let’s get to the product in-hand, where we see the list of ingredients for SPAM Tocino are pork with ham, sugar, water, modified potato starch, salt, sodium phosphates, flavoring, spice, oleoresin of paprika and sodium nitrite.

This, as compared to SPAM® Classic’s ingredients, which are pork with ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium nitrite.

Looking over the nutritional information, not surprisingly, it’s yet another canned sodium bomb.

A  unique thing about SPAM Tocino is its prep’ instructions, suggesting you first add water to the pan, just enough to cover, then let it reduce to form a syrup, finishing it off lightly dressing the caramelized slices with Vegetable oil to form a nicely coated glaze. More on that later.

Ah yes, It’s always satisfying hearing the sound a new can of SPAM pop open.

Removing it from the can, we see SPAM® Tocino has a slightly reddish tinge to it, however I think it could use more red coloring to give it a more Tocino-like appearance.

Unlike SPAM Classic lately, SPAM Tocino brings back that slight coating of “mystery goo”, a.k.a. “SPAM Lube”, or whatever the heck that (radioactive?) stuff is.

Following the cooking instructions to the “T” (something admittedly usually very difficult for me), I added water in the hot non-stick skillet with the (roughly) 1/4″ slices of SPAM® Tocino and let it reduce until it concentrated and thickened, then finished it by adding about a teaspoon of vegetable oil to try and create a syrupy Tocino glaze”.

Well, I guess being a SPAM Tocino “Noob”, I didn’t quite get the concentrated syrupy caramelized glaze I was hoping for, ending with mostly a colorized oily finish. I was also concerned about burning them because of the high sugar content. And a few pieces did burn a little on one side, which I would find out later was a GOOD thing.

What you readily see here is, all that effort in creating a caramelized syrupy glaze with the water and oil and whole bit, turned out in vane, as, after resting for about 15 minutes on the side, every piece of cooked SPAM Tocino had absorbed it like a sponge instead of being nicely coated by it. Could be the cook, I don’t know.

OK, let’s try it…

And? Yummy! It’s definitely porky-sweet, with a flavor profile somewhere VERY LOOSELY between Charsiu and Longanisa, while being predominantly SPAM. There’s no traces of garlic, ginger or spicy hot chili pepper flavoring in it, while I think paprika extract is what “Tocinofies” this from otherwise simply being sweetened, red-colored SPAM.

As for with the eggs and rice, yeah, that works. However I think it could have been crisped up more, as like I said earlier, the burnt pieces were actually better, having a more bacon-like element to it.

I don’t care what flavor of SPAM you throw my way, it WILL be turned into a Musubi. And with that, so did SPAM Tocino become “musubi-fied”. And? Excellent! Being its essentially sweetened pork similar to Teriyaki, it has all the same complimentary attributes of the classic SPAM Musubi, albeit, sans shoyu.

It must be noted — as became even more noticeable with the musubi rice — SPAM Tocino does suffer a little of that mushy texture “complex” that the SPAM Teriyaki suffered so much by. Not nearly as bad, but it’s there.


SPAM® Teriyaki Musubi

I’m thinking there’s a chemical reaction going on with the sugar content, as other SPAM flavors that aren’t sweetened don’t suffer the mushy texture issue. Whatever the case, unlike SPAM Teriyaki, thankfully SPAM Tocino still has at least some of the same fibrous texture as SPAM Classic, which is part of what makes SPAM the best of all the luncheon meat brands.

After eating it the traditional Filipino way with eggs ‘n rice, and as a SPAM® Tocino Musubi, actually, the way I enjoyed SPAM® Tocino best was by itself, especially the slices that were nice and papa’a (having crispy burnt edges). In fact, if you buy some to try yourself, I would recommend simply cutting them into bite-size cubes and pan fry them per the directions as a nice pupu, or perhaps try making kabobs out of them and throw ’em on da’ Hibachi. It think that would be winnahz!

Summing it up, I give Hormel SPAM® Tocino 3 SPAM Musubi. There’s definitely potential where I’d buy it again. Further reaffirming that are online reviews of SPAM Tocino by Filipino folks who really know their Tocino, and love their SPAM, giving this a big thumbs-up. Ultimately, I really like it!


(3) Very Good. Considerable of another visit or purchase. (Ono!)

With the 2015 Waikiki SPAM JAM soon upon us on May 2nd, all this month I’ll be completing my tasting of the various other SPAM flavors currently available. Next up, SPAM Chorizo!

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14 thoughts on “Product Review: SPAM® Tocino

  • April 10, 2015 at 12:11 am
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    Pomai, my cousins been checking stores and supermarkets for these new spams

    products in San Francisco and so far only turkey, and regular spams. No other new

    products.  I guese only in Hawaii so must mailed some to them.

    Reply
    • April 10, 2015 at 7:52 am
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      Amy,

      That’s the kind of questions I’ve attempted to ask Hormel through their online contact form, with no response. So I give up on that route. We can only hope folks who read this will let us know if SPAM Tocino is available in their local grocery stores.

      In the SPAM Teriyaki review, one guy from Colorado commented that they had that flavor available at the local grocery stores there. And this was when it just came out.

      Speaking of which, what ever happened to Tulip?

       

      Reply
  • April 10, 2015 at 8:05 am
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    This seems like a good idea. Guam and Micronesia might also be good markets.

    Reply
  • April 10, 2015 at 8:34 am
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    Pat,

    Well, according to this TIME magazine article, Guam beats Hawaii as the world’s largest consumer of SPAM, based on per capita figures, with 16 cans of SPAM consumed per person each year. It also goes on to note that one study found that 60% of deaths on the island of 150,000 are blamed on poor diet and lifestyle. No, really?

    Other than doing taste tests and reviews of products that feature SPAM for this blog, I rarely eat it. And I’ll eat those words when I do my next taste test. lol

    Here’s a couple more flavors I think would be a big hit here in Hawaii, as well as China and the Philippines:

    • SPAM® Adobo
    • SPAM® Charsiu
    Reply
  • April 10, 2015 at 12:08 pm
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    Have you ever been to the Spam Museum in Austin, MN? I have in-laws in the area and I have to say it is quite a sight to see. I believe it is undergoing refurbishment and will re-open next summer.

    Reply
  • April 10, 2015 at 12:15 pm
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    I’m waiting for it to appear on the shelves at Tamura’s (not the fancy store, the real kine grocery store).

    Reply
  • April 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm
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    @ momona – Wow, apparently SPAM® Tocino is still so new, apparently not even all the local supermarkets have it in stock yet. Let us know when they get it.

    I think we’re going to have to start an online “SPAM Tracker”, mapping where exactly in the world you can find various flavors of SPAM, right down to specific store location. For the SPAM hardcore fans!

    @ SL – No, haven’t been there (yet). I think Hawaii has Minnesota beat with our annual Waikiki SPAM JAM, which truly is a REAL ‘N ALIVE SPAM Museum! If you’ve never been to a SPAM JAM, put it on your must-do list! As you see, the next one’s coming soon in May!

    Reply
  • April 13, 2015 at 8:35 am
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    I tried the chorizo Spam, not bad, kinda spicy, tastes like the sausage.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2015 at 11:22 am
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      Momona,

      My favorite brand of Chorizo is the one in the green can by Marca El Rey. Kinda’ weird how sausage packed in a can tastes so good, but that one’s the best, IMO.

      Reply
  • April 14, 2015 at 9:01 am
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    Most definitely gonns score some Spam Tocino (and the chorizo, too) when I’m home in a few weeks!  I was surprised in the COSTCO here in Huntsville, AL to find Spam Teriyaki flavor on the shelves in the 8 pack! Hope the other flavors eventually make it here!

    Reply
  • April 14, 2015 at 10:35 am
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    @ Keith-San – Wow, that is surprising such an ethnic flavor would make it into an Alabama Costco. Whatever you do, don’t get an entire 8-pack of ANYTHING until you try it first. As I found, the SPAM Teriyaki has a rather off putting mushy texture. At least to me. Try a single can first to see what you think.

    Make sure when you get home you put Shaloha on Waialae avenue on your must-try list. Their Falafel sandwich and pita chips with Hummus dip, all with made in Hawaiii house Pita Bread is rockin’ it! If you’re in Iwilei area (near Costco and Best Buy), you also gotta’ try Aloha Tofu Town. Oh, and don’t forget some early morning pastries from the recently moved Kamehameha Bakery in City Square Shopping Center (Palama area).

    @ SL – Wow, I didn’t realize the Minnesota SPAM JAM was THAT huge. The way they market the Waikiki SPAM JAM here, is that it’s “the biggest”. They must mean “biggest in the Pacific”. I’ll have to look for some websites covering the Austin SPAM JAM. 7 days? Wow! I will say, the Waikiki SPAM JAM has grown to become one of, if not the biggest block parties in Waikiki, both participants and attendance wise.

    Reply
    • April 15, 2015 at 11:09 am
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      Pomai:

      I bought a can of teriSpam last year and liked it! Yeah, it was “softer” than regular Spam, but fried crispy it was quite acceptable. I’ve tried the black pepper (not a fan), hickory smoke (not bad), hot pepper (pretty good), jalapeno (meh). Your suggestions of adobo and charsiu flavors would be exciting.  I wonder if a korean bbq (kalbi / bulgogi) flavor would be significantly different from the teriSpam? We have a Hawaii club here in Huntsville and just had a pot luck about a month ago. Was a pretty good turnout with lots of local-kine dishes like mochiko chicken, fried rice, butterfish, kalua pig, potato-mac salad, regular gohan, shoyu chicken, vegeterian lo-mein, and spam musubi. Next time I’ll take some pictures and show you the spread!

      Reply

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