The Knife Hack To Pry Spam Out Of The Can

Some will always turn up their noses at SPAM despite the fact that the spiced pork and ham product has been part of our domestic and global cuisine since 1937. It has survived a world war and fed millions of soldiers and civilians in the process, endured the mockery of "Monty Python's Flying Circus," become a phenomenon across the Pacific islands and Asia, and sold more than nine billion cans of the product. Its versatility, portability, and comforting flavor go a long way in explaining its popularity, but the real SPAM mystery remains ... just how the heck do you get it out of its can?

It's deceptively tricky to pry out a block of SPAM in one piece. Sure, its lid is simple enough to remove by using the built-in pull tab, but when you attempt to shake it out of the tin — nothing happens. There it sits, all glistening and pink, snuggly tucked away and comfortable in its container, and no matter how much you jostle and smack at it, that bad boy won't budge.

Don't panic; there's an easy way to remove it from its packaging — just use the knife hack. Get a sturdy knife, and while making sure that your hands are well out of the way, carefully stab a small slit into the bottom of the can. Don't want to dull a knife? You can also use a can opener. You'll be amazed to discover that the slippery slab should now slide right out. 

How to easily remove SPAM from the can

We're not being condescending by referring to SPAM as slippery — that gelatinous coating is part of its charm. It's also one reason it's so hard to dislodge from the can. The slick stuff is what keeps the processed meat from drying out but also makes it adhere to the can.

The main culprit making it so hard to force out, however, is the vacuum seal created under pressure during canning. The reason the knife (or the safer can opener) hack works is that the opening you create allows air into the can and releases the pressure so that the chunky wedge can get out of its sticky situation.

There are other tricks you can try to set your SPAM free as well, and this next one makes use of that sleek glaze. All you need to do is hold the unopened can under warm running water for a couple of minutes — or you can place it in a bowl of warm water. This will cause two things to happen. First, the heat works to melt the meat's fatty coating so that its grip on the container's inner wall is loosened, and second, the warmth causes the can's metal to expand and pull away from its contents. Another method to relax the can's hold on its porky prize is to squeeze the short sides inward. This will make the longer sides bulge outward, slackening the can's grasp on the tasty treasure within.

Delicious dishes made with SPAM

If you don't need it as one solid piece, use the package lid for the best way to cut SPAM. Simply slide the sharp-edged top down into the meat to create slices. These are the perfect size for sandwiches like fried SPAM and egg banh mi, or in "army-base stew," an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink comforting Korean budae jjigae recipe.

In contrast to SPAM's sometimes mixed reputation in the United States, it's considered a desirable ingredient in various Asian styles of cooking. Just off the U.S. mainland, the state of Hawaii holds SPAM in high regard. Inspired by Japanese traditions, Hawaiian SPAM musubi is one of the island's most sought-after dishes. Fashioned after sushi, it's made by placing a hunk of marinated SPAM (usually pan-fried or grilled) on top of white rice, sometimes with tamago-style egg omelet, all of which gets wrapped up neatly with nori seaweed.

SPAM is also wildly popular in the Philippines where it's used in the Filipino breakfast dish called silog, or, in this case, it's known as Spamsilog — most often served with crisped SPAM, sunny side-up eggs, and garlic fried rice. Indeed, the canned meat is so well-loved in the Philippines that the product's parent company, Hormel Foods, created its own Filipino flavor called SPAM Tocino, named after the country's sweet and salty bacon-style cured pork. Among the many ways people worldwide enjoy SPAM, one of the most common is eating it straight from the can in a sandwich.