Category Archives: Phil’s Fun Food

Spam Musubi

An incredibly popular Hawaiian snack and lunch treat is Spam Musubi (pronounced moo-soo-bee). The island delicacy consists of a slice of grilled of spam, on top of a block of rice that is wrapped with a strip of Nori (seaweed) in the tradition of Japanese omusubi.

Spam Musubi is eaten as a sandwich, usually served with soy sauce or Japanese mayonnaise, and can be found literally everywhere in Hawaii – including local fast food restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, school cafeterias, and even at the zoo.

Eating a Spam Musubi seems to serve as a rite of passage for newcomers anxious to attain “local” status.

Poke (Fish Salad)

Poke (pronounced poh-keh) is the Hawaiian word for “to section” or “to slice or cut”. It is also one of the many dishes in Hawaii that is representative of its history and culture; a mix of traditional Hawaiian technique and food with Japanese ingredients. Considered local “grind” (comfort food) to native Hawaiians, Poke is a centuries-old tradition; a classic Hawaiian pupu (appetizer or main course) dating as far back as the arrival of the first Hawaiians in the island chain.

Back then, Poke was a simple, filling meal. Scraps of raw fish cut into bite-sized pieces and marinated with sesame oil, shoyu (soy sauce), green onions; inamona (a seasoning mixture of toasted and chopped kukui nuts, or candlenuts), Limu (algae), and ‘alaea (a Hawaiian sea salt mixed with red volcanic clay).

As other cultures came to the islands, Poke changed. Easier access to deep-water fish saw aku (an oily tuna) and he’e (octopus) become the new “traditional” forms of the islands staple.

Modern Poke variations include sushi-grade yellowfin (ahi) tuna, raw salmon, various species of shellfish, and tofu. Each makes use of an array of ingredients and seasonings including seaweed, Roe (fish eggs), wasabi, dried or fresh chilies, toasted macadamia nut, Furikake (a dry Japanese seasoning that typically consists of a mixture of dried fish), sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, avocado, Japanese ponzu (citrus) sauce, teriyaki sauce, mushrooms, crispy onions, pickled jalapeno, sriracha sauce, cilantro, pineapple, cucumber, sugar and salt. These contemporary Poke dishes can be served alone or on top of a bed of white rice, pineapple, Sushi-meshi (seasoned rice) or red cabbage.

Nutrition values vary depending on the dish variation selected; a 4 ounce serving of ahi Poke with traditional ingredients has 150 calories, 5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 33 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates and 0.5 grams of dietary fiber. Ahi Poke also has 400 IU of vitamin A and several trace vitamins and minerals including vitamins B-12, C, D, iron, zinc, folate, magnesium, manganese, potassium and niacin.

The Elvis Fool’s Gold Loaf

When it comes to Elvis Presley, most of us have heard about the 800 calorie fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. But have you ever heard the legend about the Fool’s Gold Loaf – a sandwich made by the Colorado Mine Company (a restaurant) in Denver, Colorado? If not, get ready for an amazing Elvis tale that just happens to be true.

The 8,000 calorie Fool’s Gold Loaf sandwich consists of a single loaf of white French bread, filled with one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and one pound of fried bacon. To prepare, the loaf is sliced lengthwise, hollowed out, covered in eight tablespoons of margarine, filled with the ingredients, and baked at 350 degrees until brown.


The sandwich’s connection to Elvis goes back to the night of February 1, 1976. Elvis was at home at Graceland in Memphis entertaining a group of friends. As the evening wore on, the conversation made its way to food and eventually to the sandwich. Before long, the King had decided that the entire group was going to Denver. After a quick limo ride to Memphis International, the party boarded the Lisa Marie and flew two hours to the Mile High City. When they arrived at 1:40 AM, the plane taxied to a special hangar where the passengers were greeted by Buck Scott, the owner of the Colorado Mine Company, his wife Cindy, and Chef Nick Andurlakis.

They presented the entourage with 30 fresh Fool’s Gold Loaves, a case of Perrier and three cases of champagne. The group spent the next two hours in the hangar devouring the food and drink. When they were done, they flew back to Memphis – without ever having left the grounds of the Denver airport.

Phil’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It’s everyone’s favorite go-to comfort food. It’s probably one of the first dishes that you learned to make in college after long nights of drink … er, studying. And all that gooey, buttery, crunchy, cheesy-goodness is one reason why we weighed more by senior year, than we did as freshmen.

If you’re a fan of grilled cheese, but worry about the calories, here’s a cool trick that creates a richer-tasting lighter version of the original sandwich!

To make this masterpiece you need a nonstick pan, bread, cheese and … wait for it … a teaspoon or two of mayonnaise.

Start by putting the pan over low heat. Normally at this point, you’d drop a chuck or two of butter into the pan, but you can avoid that step altogether. Lower your eye brow … I know what I’m doing. Next, take two slices of bread and spread each slice with even coats of mayo. Place one slice in the pan with the mayo side down. After adding a slice of your favorite cheese to the top of the warming bread, place the second slice of bread on top – mayo side up. After letting it cook until the bottom (pan side) is golden brown, flip the whole sandwich over and cook the other side until it too is gleaming with goodness. Next, remove the sandwich from the pan and enjoy!

Here’s the secret to this new cheesy classic: mayonnaise has (roughly) 1/2 the calories of butter, spreads better (which is absolutely crucial when you’re a little shaky from all that studying), and has a higher smoke point – which means that it won’t burn as easily. Best of all, the oil and egg in the mayonnaise brown easily while adding a delicious flavor and creamy texture to the bread.

You’re welcome.