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.
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!
- SPAM Tocino – A Filipino Love Story – Facebook
- Trying out SPAM Tocino (limited edition) – The Peach Kitchen
- Can of Nostalgic Delight – PositivelyFilipino.com
- SPAM Tocino! – Dekaphone.com