If you’re looking for easy Hawaiian food, SPAM musubi can’t be beat. At it’s most basic you have three ingredients: SPAM, rice and nori (or seaweed). The variations are endless; you can marinate the SPAM, add a scrambled egg, make them bite sized, or even substitute chicken for the meat. My favorite thing about SPAM musubi is that you can make a big batch, individually wrap them and pop them in the freezer. Then they make a great afternoon snack, grab and go lunch or even breakfast! I had my first musubi at a convenience store on my way to dawn patrol, the typical name for an early morning sunrise surf session. I’d been in Hawaii for a year, was a seventh grader, and this was my first time surfing. I had a mixture of fear, excitement, and determination not to let the cute high school guys in our group think I was anything but gutsy.
None of us had eaten breakfast, due to the early hour, so we stopped by a Seven Eleven to grab some quick protein to fill us up. The checkout counter had a tall heated glass case, filled with rows and rows of perfect plastic wrapped rectangles of rice and meat in a seaweed blanket (I only recognized the seaweed from my years in Korea as a child).
An adventurous eater, I followed the example of the group without question and grabbed two, for a total cost of $1.
In the van we dug hungrily into the steaming rice “sandwiches”, and I knew instantly that I had discovered my new favorite snack.
In Hawaii I never made my own musubi at home, because they were everywhere. You could get them cheaply at any convenience store alongside the manapua, bentos and somen salads. We also made them at school (in the science classrooms) and sold them as fundraisers. They were even available in the school snack bar!
But the year of high school I spent in Pennsylvannia, my sophomore year, there was not a single musubi in sight, so I decided to start making my own. I got a cheap musubi press (there are lots of affordable musubi presses on Amazon) and began making several, keeping the in the freezer for a quick microwave lunch or snack.
The first day I brought a SPAM musubi to school, my friends reacted rather strongly. “WHAT is THAT?!!!”
I explained and offered them a taste. “Meat from CAN? No way!” So I happily ate them myself, secretly glad that I didn’t have to share.
But after a few weeks of bringing musubis to school regularly, I could see the feigned disgust change to intrigue, and sure enough, they began asking to try my “foreign food”. My musubi quickly became quite the lunchroom commodity, and soon I could trade them for pretty much anything I wanted.
My go to method for SPAM musubi is an easy basic one, with a simple marinade to give that extra pop of flavor. Some people say you need to use sushi rice, but in Hawaii we also used regular rice, just cooked it to be sticky. You can do that in a rice cooker or on the stove. Just “wash” your rice before you cook it, by rinsing it several times with water. Then add an equal amount of water to rice for cooking.
If you’d like to try your hand at making musubis, but don’t want to get a musubi mold yet (though they’re less than $5 a lot of the time!), you can use the SPAM can. Just cut both ends off and use it as your mold, pressing the rice down with the piece of SPAM you’re using.
Have you ever had SPAM musubi? Have you ever had SPAM?
SPAM Musubi RecipePrep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Total time: 30 minutes Yield: 10 servings
- 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup
- 2 TBS
honey, sugar or sucanat
- 10 1/4 inch slices
- 3-5 sheets
nori or seaweed
- 2-3 cups
sticky rice (hot or room temperature)
- Whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar or honey to make your marinade. Place SPAM slices in a single layer in a shallow dish and pour marinade over the top. Let sit at least 15 minutes (this is a great time to cook your rice!).
- Remove SPAM from marinade and fry in a single layer in a pan on high. Lightly brown, 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Cut your nori sheets into 2 1/2 – 3 inch strips. Place a strip (or two depending on the size of your mold) under your musubi mold. (See photos in post)
- Fill mold with about three inches of rice. Use the press to compact it in the mold.
- Place one to two slices of SPAM on top of the compacted rice (again depending on your mold). Place the press firmly on top of the SPAM and carefully slide your mold up and off of the musubis.
- Fold the strips of nori up and over the rice and spam, moistening the ends with a little water to seal.
- If making two musubi in one mold, use a sharp, wet knife to slice the rice in the middle to form two separate musubi.
Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 707mg, Total Carbohydrate 16.2g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 3.6g, Protein 5.2g, WW points plus 4, WW old points 4
Approximate cost/serving: I try to buy SPAM on sale because it just costs more on the mainland than it did in Hawaii! I get all my Asian ingredients at an Asian grocery store. This ends up costing me about $3 for 10 so around 30 cents each.
Gluten free: Make sure that your nori only contains salt, oil and seaweed. Any flavored ones can contain gluten. Also use gluten free soy sauce or tamari
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.