Monday, October 15, 2012
Recipe: Spam dish at State Fair doesn’t look half bad
Paula Wyse Kindred leis her Hawaiian-themed recipe on ya.
PLANO For the family of Plano resident Paula Wyse Kindred, food is a friendly competition.
At this year's Great American Spam Championship, an annual contest at the State Fair of Texas that challenges contestants to whip up the best Spam-based dish they can muster, it was Kindred who came out on top.
Her Mahalo Cups, a Hawaiian-inspired take on the pork staple rich with hoisin sauce, pineapple, and Macadamia nuts, netted her a blue ribbon, $150 in cash, and a chance to compete on the national level for a trip to the next year's annual Spam Jam in Waikiki.
"It's very Asian-inspired," Kindred said of her dish. "It's just inspired by my grandmother and her love of Hawaii. ... If I win this, I will be going [to Waikiki] with my grandmother, who passed away many years ago."
The victory was a true upset for Kindred, who has competed in several cooking contests over the years: Her sister, Donna, who has won the state-level contest twice before, also competed in the contest but did not place.
"This has to be the most exciting win so far, just because I've wanted it so bad for so long," Kindred said. "I've come in second place [to my sister], and I finally got the first place."
But the victory almost didn't happen due to some last-minute technical errors, Kindred said. Nearly ready to leave home with her dish, her computer crashed just as she attempted to print out her recipe for submission.
Thankfully, one of her competitors was able to coax her back into the fold, and with a little help she was able to get the dish and the recipe -- hand-written -- to the judges in time.
"I told her to get herself down there, and she'd probably win," Donna said.
The Wyse family's tradition of competing at the State Fair goes back several decades. It was started by Kindred and Donna's mother, who submitted her family-famous lasagna recipe when the sisters were young.
"She didn't win anything, but she didn't let it dissuade her, and I think that was kind of a good lesson for us because it taught us to never give up," Kindred said.
Kindred entered her first State Fair competition in her mid-20s, winning honorable mention for her brownies. Since then, she has won several local and state contests, including some national contests. In September, she was featured on the Game Show Network's Beat the Chef program with other competitors from the State Fair contest scene.
"Even if its someone you're going up against, I love my State Fair sisters," she said. "... It's a way to even grow as a person, because even after years of competing, there's still something new there you're always going to experience."
Over the years, Kindred, Donna, and their mother have frequently entered cooking and recipe contests, even taking three of the five finalist spots at a grilling contest. Kindred and Donna tied for first place.
For Kindred, the next step in the contest is to let judges take a look at her recipe compared to 25 other state winners. If she comes out on top, she will be the second Texan to win the national competition and go to Hawaii.
Meanwhile, Donna said she's just as happy for her sister's win as she would be for herself.
"It's great for us to be together [and] root for each other," she said. "It's a friendly competition. We love the other state fair cooks. We get together a couple of times a year and go out to eat, or we have a big Christmas party. It's a real camaraderie down there."
Make it yourself
Take a crack at Kindred's award-winning Mahalo Cups with this step-by-step recipe:
- 1/3 cup hoisin
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoons ginger
- 1 (12 ounce) can Spam Turkey
- 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
- 1 cup Macadamia nuts, chopped
- 1 cup red pepper strips
- 1 cup chopped purple onion
- 1 head cabbage (some cups, some shredded)
- 1 pineapple, in chunks
Mix hoisin with cornstarch. Add garlic and ginger. Cover Spam cubes with ginger mixture and then dip in sesame seeds and macadamia nuts. Sauté Spam. Stir fry the vegetables. Add pineapple to the vegetables and toss. Spoon into cabbage cups and top with the sautéed Spam. Serve warm or cold.
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