Hawaiian Rice Bowl (Huli Huli Chicken & Spam)

This post is going to cover 3 recipes/cooking techniques so buckle up. Each one is super simple and work in concert so it makes sense to put them all in one big post. The vibe is Hawaiian so if you’re ready to start living on island time, this is for you.

The heart of this recipe is the rice bowl. Normally when I make a rice or quinoa bowl, I just use regular rice, but I wanted this to be like a poke bowl so I made sushi rice. Sushi rice just hits different. It’s sticky. It’s got that hint of something, which I now know is a very simple vinegar based sauce. It’s also so easy to make that I wonder why I never did this sooner. First things first: make sure you’re using sushi rice. I cooked it in my rice cooker with the standard 1 part rice to 2 parts water ratio. When it’s done, fluff it up and toss with a sauce made with a 2:2:1 ratio of rice wine vinegar to sugar to salt. Now you’re ready to build a bowl. You can use anything here: raw fish, cooked shrimp, sriracha mayo – go wild. For my toppings, I used cremini mushrooms (I had some that were on their last leg – quartered them and saut├ęd with garlic and sesame seeds), edamame, chopped scallions, sliced avocado, and chopped macadamia nuts. The final topping was furikake seasoning, which is a rice seasoning made with seaweed that you can shake all over the top. These toppings felt very legit. And the macadamia nuts and furikake, in particular, felt very Hawaiian. Aloha.

Now it’s time to talk protein. I really wanted to try cooking Spam. I am really into Spam musubi and basically wanted those flavors in rice bowl form. Simply turn the Spam out of the can and slice it, using the indentations made from the can as a guide. Brush on a sauce made with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and brown sugar and sear in a cast iron skillet til it looks like the sauce has caramelized a bit.

My Spam came out PERFECT…but I wasn’t so confident before I started cooking. Thankfully, the Sunday NY Times featured a recipe for Huli Huli Chicken that my beau had really wanted to try. Finding that recipe the day before we were already set to make a Hawaiian meal felt like the most perfect timing. The original recipe calls for 3.5 – 4 lb bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces or boneless chicken thighs. We used boneless skinless breasts because it’s healthier and easy to slice for bowls. You’re marinating it so it’s still going to be super tender. The recipe is also meant to be grilled and I’m sure it would be extra delicious with that bit of smoky flavor, but it was overcast so we were eating inside and it was still wonderful after simply baking it. Make the sauce (I used just over 1.5 lb of chicken so I halved these proportions): 1/2 c. ketchup, 1/2 c. soy sauce, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 1/4 c. rice vinegar, 1 in. grated ginger (I used powdered – it worked great), and 2-3 minced garlic cloves. Mix it all up and marinate the chicken 8+ hours or overnight. (Note: I only marinated for 2 hours and it was still full of flavor.) Like I said, the recipe says to grill, but I baked at 375 for about 22 minutes (my chicken breasts were pretty thin) and thought it was super tasty.

So there you have it, the makings of a fabulous Hawaiian meal. Feel free to mix and match. Turn the rice bowl into a poke bowl or chop the Spam up and cook into fried rice or put that chicken with some grilled pineapple or bok choy. If this meal taught me anything, it’s that Hawaii has some great food. And made me super sad I just had to cancel the trip we were planning there this summer. Sighhhhhhh