I first had spam musubi when I visited Hawaii on vacation. At first, I literally thought it was something off of an east-Asian sushi platter. Imagine my surprise when my friends told me it’s native to Hawaii.
Anyway, I tasted it and knew I needed to know the recipe. Queue me trying to find someone who could tell me how to make spam musubi. I tried the spam musubi recipe when I got back, and it turned out pretty close to what I had.
That brings us here to me passing on my wisdom to you. Now, you can make this Hawaiian snack at home, no matter the time.
Spam Musubi – Origins and Why I Love It
Spam became popular in Hawaii after the Second World War. At that time, it was sent from America as part of excess military rations. After World War II, its use dwindled in America but became popular in Hawaii.
Later, the meat product made its way into numerous Hawaiian cuisines. It was cheap and readily available, so its popularity spiked.
Spam musubi was one of the most popular Hawaiian foods to incorporate spam. The sushi-like dish takes inspiration from the Japanese rice ball or musubi. However, we can find them in almost every convenience store.
I like sushi, so spam musubi wasn’t that big a stretch. I know it’s horrible to hear. Technically, musubi means rice balls, but I think it’s close enough. It has rice, meat, and seaweed. So, you get that sweet, salty taste.
I probably won’t have it every day, but it’s good when you want a small meal or packing food for a picnic.
The Tricky Musubi Mold
You can buy musubi molds on Amazon or any other marketplace. They make it easier to press the rice into a specific shape. Technically, you don’t need a mold to make the musubi rice. I just use my hands, but if you’re a beginner, it may be a bit tricky. You’ll have trouble keeping everything uniform.
Still, you can DIY things if you don’t want to spend money on them. Just use your spam container. You’ll have to cut out the bottom and shorten the length of the can. Once you have that down, cover the sharp bits with tape, and you’re good to go.
Since you’re going to use the mold for food, try using tape that doesn’t contain toxins. For added convenience, you can lay a plastic wrap inside and then put your rise inside. It’s easier to take out of the can this way.
The Food Prep
You need to prepare the ingredients before you can actually make the musubi. These ingredients include rice, sauce, and spam.
Do not use normal rice for spam musubi. It won’t stick together, and you’ll be in a mess. Instead, use sushi rice. These short-grain rice tend to stick together, so they’re easier to handle.
Traditional sushi rice has vinegar and other seasonings. Since musubi doesn’t use those, we’ll skip them. However, you can use traditional sushi rice if you want to switch things up.
Take the rice and rinse the uncooked rice till the water runs clear. After that, you can cook them in a rice cooker, microwave, or saucepan. I recommend investing in a rice cooker if you eat rice regularly. It always comes out perfect.
You can still make rice in a saucepan. Heat the water (a cup for every cup of rice) till it boils. Once the water starts boiling, add the washed rice. Give it a bit of stir, and then cover it.
Reduce the flame to its lowest setting and let the rice simmer for eighteen to twenty minutes. Sometimes I add a bit of rice vinegar for flavor.
If you’re using a rice cooker, add a cup of water for every cup of rice. Once the rice is done, fluff it up. Make sure the cooked rice stays warm while you cook everything else.
You need a sauce to braise the spam and give it the trademark flavor. There are multiple variations of the sauce. I just use soy sauce mixed with some oyster sauce and sugar. Simmer the sauce in a saucepan till it gets to a thicker consistency.
Alternatively, you can deglaze the pan you used to fry the spam. Add a bit of mirin and put in your sugar and soy sauce mixture. Let the sauce simmer in the pan for two minutes. Make sure to use low heat.
Cut the spam meat into thin slices. Fry the spam slices in a skillet or pan. There are tons of spam varieties out there, so choose whatever you like. Choose low-sodium spam if you want to cut down on your sodium intake. You can also choose flavored spam, like spicy spam.
You won’t need to add too much oil since the spam has a fat content that will melt. So the spam will cook in that melted fat. Make sure the heat isn’t too high. You want to brown the spam slowly so that it’s cooked evenly.
Roughly two minutes should be enough for each side of the spam slice. The result should be light brown spam slices with a very crispy crust. Next, you’ll need to caramelize the fried spam, but for that, we need the sauce.
Drizzle the sauce into the pan and let it coat the spam. Once your spam slices are in the sauce, let them simmer for a few minutes. Afterward, you should have beautifully glazed spam slices.
Once you have the roasted seaweed in front of you, cut the sheet in half. You’ll use this piece to wrap the musubi. You can find nori seaweed in normal markets, though it may also be labeled as gim. Gim is Korean for seaweed.
Some brands use a color or alphabet rating system to identify the seaweed’s quality. The seaweed on the higher end of the rating scale has thick textures, darker color, and a shinier appearance.
Optional Ingredients to Add
Furikake is a Japanese seasoning. It goes between the spam slice and rice. It’s optional, but you should add it for a richer taste. You can make the seasoning at home or get it from the market.
You’ll need nori seaweed, sesame seeds, and bonito flakes. Add this to a pan with a little salt and sugar and roast it. After a minute, you can turn off the flame and set this seasoning aside.
You can fry an egg and place it between the spam and rice if you want. Just beat an egg and fry it in the pan. You can add seasoning like salt and black pepper, but it’ll taste fine without those.
You can also add slices of avocado to the musubi to make it healthier. Choose a ripe avocado. Cut it down the middle. You’ll have to scour around the seed since it’s hard. Afterward, remove the pit and peel off the skin. Once the skin is off, slice the avocado into thin slices for the spam musubi.
If you’re a cheese lover, you can add cheese slices in there. Ensure the slices are thin so the cheese doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds.
How to Assemble Spam Musubi
After you have all the ingredients ready, you can start with the assembly. You can do it with the mold as that’s easier, or you can use your hands. You might want to dab your hands in some water for this part. That way, the rice won’t stick to your hands and make a mess.
With a Mold
Lay out the seaweed strips. Put your rice in the mold and press them together so they stick together. You can place the spam slice in the mold on top of the rice. Alternatively, you can place the rice on the seaweed strip.
Add Furikake or whatever extra ingredients you want, and top it off with the spam. Roll the nori strip around the assembled rice and spam. Remember, the seaweed should be placed so the shiny surface faces downwards. Wet your hand before assembling the musubi. Otherwise, the rice will stick to it.
Without a Mold
If you don’t have a mold, you can use your hand to shape the rice. The process is the same. Simply press the rice into the desired shape. Make sure you make it the same size as the spam slices.
If you’re using the can, line the inside with plastic wrap first. Press the rice into the can and top it with the spam. Then you can lift the wrap with the rice and spam inside. Use the seaweed to wrap the stack. Then you can cover the musubi with plastic wrap to press everything together and keep it there until you serve it.
Don’t press the rice too hard, or it’ll become mesh together. Thus, you’ll get weirdly textured rice. However, the rice may fall apart if you don’t apply enough pressure.
Serving the Spam Musubi
Try to serve the spam musubi while it’s still warm and fresh. It tastes the best that way. Some people may find it too dry, so you can serve it with soy sauce or ketchup. I like mine without these things.
Dealing With the Leftovers
If you have leftovers, you can wrap them in plastic and store them in the refrigerator. Don’t leave them there for more than three days.
When you’re ready to eat, reheat the musubi in the microwave by placing it in a damp paper towel. Fifteen to twenty seconds in the microwave should be enough.
Remember, the older the musubi, the harder and drier the rice will be. If you have leftover rice, you can use it to make fried rice. Use leftover spam to eat with your eggs.
- Spam – 1 can
- Short-grain sushi rice – 2 cups
- Nori seaweed – 4 sheets
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
- Furikake seasoning – optional
- Fried egg – optional
- Avocado – optional
- Cheese – optional
- Rinse the rice till the water runs clear. Afterward, cook it in the rice cooker with two cups of water. Once it's done, fluff it and set it aside.
- Mix sugar, soy sauce, and oyster sauce in a container. Simmer this sauce in the pan for two minutes and set it aside.
- Cut the spam into slices and cook it on medium-high heat. Brown each side for two minutes. Add the sauce to caramelize the spam slices.
- Cut the nori seaweed sheet into two pieces. Mold the rice using a special musubi mold or spam can. Top the molded rice with optional ingredients and spam. Wrap the whole thing in nori seaweed.
- Serve while the spam musubi is warm. You should be able to make eight musubi servings.
That’s how I make spam musubi. Personally, I would rate the recipe 5 stars. Sometimes I switch things up by adding eggs or avocado, but the additional toppings are up to you. The musubi is great to have as an afternoon snack or if you need a meal on the go.
If you have kids, you can give this to them for lunch. Once you have assembled everything, try to eat it while it’s still warm. That’s because the rice is still soft, so you’ll enjoy everything.
Once the rice starts getting cold, it’ll start hardening and drying up, which isn’t very good. Try the recipe today, and let me know how everything turned out!