When I think of street festivals and county fairs, I can’t NOT think about food, eating is the real reason I go to these events. And you can’t ignore the deliciousness, the smells are everywhere. Cotton candy, corn dogs, fried everything, and…UFOs? And no, I’m not talking about the weird aircraft in the sky, I’m talking about a classical Hawaiian fair food that’s meaty, saucy, cheesy, portable, and needs to make an appearance on the mainland!
A flying saucer is essentially two pieces of bread smashed together and stuffed with a warm, savory mixture of saucy sloppy joe-like beef and gooey cheese, need I say more? It’s the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. If you go to Hawaii, you’ll spot these specifically on the island of Kauai, during their summertime take on the Japanese festival called Obon.
The origins aren’t too clear, but it’s a story of culinary fusion. Japanese street foods include similar molded foods like takoyaki or taiyaki pans, so the preparation of carbs in a compressed grill pan was already embedded into the culinary environment. Fuse those pans with American ingredients like white bread, ketchup, ground beef, and single-slice cheese, and you have new fair food in town.
Don’t fret about not having that disc-like shaped pan, you can recreate these sandwiches without the special equipment and still get amazing grilled and melty results. Who said square or triangle-shaped UFOs weren’t UFOs? This video is a great reference for making a flying saucer from scratch.
Prepping and cooking the beef filling is probably the hardest thing about making these sandwiches! After chopping and sautéing onions, bell peppers, and garlic, you need to cook the beef with a saucy mixture of ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt. After a long simmer of 10 minutes, you add a bit of corn.
Though the video states that any bread is okay to use, you’ll want to opt for a squishy or pliable type of bread, because you’re gonna need to press and pinch the slices together. Don’t overstuff the bread, or else the filling will ooze out. You want just enough to taste the filling, but you want to keep the filling inside the bread.
Make sure to use plenty of butter, so nothing sticks to the pan. Better yet, with plenty of butter, you’ll get that golden, brown, and delicious crunch on the outside.
Though these are generally made during the summertime, there’s no limitation on these sandwiches, all of the ingredients are available year-round. This rich, hearty sandwich holds up to summer heat and plummeting winter temperatures too. You’ll only say aloha (hello) and never aloha (goodbye) to this regionally special sandwich.
To watch the whole process from start to finish, here’s the video!SKM: below-content placeholder