Spam, the world’s most recognizable luncheon meat, is immensely popular in Asia and Hawaii. In the U.S., what was once a punchline (and a term for junk email) is now enjoying a resurgence, found in dishes from Kimchi fried rice and musubi.
As a kid who grew up with Spam in my household, I was delighted to find something called Spam fries on the menu at Double Chin, one of my go-to late-night spots in Boston’s Chinatown. What are Spam fries? They're exactly what you think. Spam is cut into long thick planks, battered, then deep fried and served with several dipping sauces.
Whatever your opinions of Spam are (cold, slimy luncheon meat), I can assure you, it's far tastier battered and fried. It had a crunchy exterior but was tender and juicy inside. One of the dipping sauces—part mayo and part ketchup—offered tang and brightness that balanced out the meatiness.
Curious about recreating this at home, I reached out to my test cook colleague, Sam Block, to see if she could help come up with a recipe. The way they do it at Double Chin involves dredging the Spam fries in cornstarch and deep-frying it. I was hoping for a method that didn't involve dragging out the Dutch oven and a quart of oil. Enter the air fryer.
Sam had helped develop a crispy panko breading for asparagus. She said it was just as delicious on pork chops and chicken. She tried this same method on Spam fries and reported it: "Super crunchy on the outside and very tender in the center." The best part? Start to finish, it took less than 10 minutes to make—and didn't involve a pot of hot oil.
The Best Air FryersWe cooked thousands of french fries and more than 50 pounds of chicken to answer one question: Which air fryer reigns supreme?
Air Fryer Spam Fries
- 1 can Spam
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- Vegetable oil spray
1. Toss panko with 2 tablespoons oil in bowl until evenly coated. Microwave, stirring frequently, until light golden brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer to shallow dish and let cool slightly.
2. Whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon flour together in second shallow dish. Slice block of Spam from top to bottom lengthwise into three flat pieces, then each piece into five sticks. Working with several Spam fries at a time, dredge in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere; transfer to a large plate.
3. Lightly spray base of air-fryer basket with vegetable oil spray. Arrange spam fries in prepared basket, spaced evenly apart. Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 degrees. (Depending on the size of your basket, you may need to cook it in several batches.) Cook until Spam fries are deep golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
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