For this Korean-Hawaiian pop-up I started with Spam, and built a menu around other natural crossovers the two cultures share – fresh, raw seafood in Hawaii's poke / Korea's hwe dup bap, slow-cooked pork in Hawaii's kalua pig / Korea's bossam, and earthy taro in Hawaii's poi / Korea's to-ran.
Spam is hands-down my favorite food from childhood. My mom made us egg fried Spam for snacks or as banchan, and I would happily eat nothing but that and rice for many meals. Spam was also heavily featured in budae-jjigae (Korean army stew), and I would chase each piece down before anyone else could and hoard them until the end. What's not to love? It's a perfect blend of porky, meaty, and salty.
Koreans seriously love Spam. Every department store, especially the fancy ones, sells gift packs of Spam, wrapped in plastic and a huge bow so you can take them to your in-laws for Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). You're definitely something if you bring over a case of O.G. Spam; Spam is so popular that Korea manufactures a variety of knock-offs (I know, how can you make Spam even cheaper?!).
You know who else loves Spam? Hawaiians! Both cultures adopted Spam with a die-hard passion post-war, incorporating the canned meat into delicious versions of their own people's foods and elevating something that most Americans look down upon in horror. Well, joke's on you folks, cuz that's more Spam for me.