Hawaiian Musubi

July 23, 2019Katie

Have you heard of Musubi, a recipe originating in Hawaii? It is a mouthful of goodness with a surprisingly good and highly scoffed at ingredient here in the States.


Yes you heard me…SPAM.

Before you too scoff…you have to try it. I got to try this giant sushi-like treat recently at a Hawaiian Luau my sis-in-law invited us to.

The Luau was legit and came complete with a Kālua pig (buried in the ground). It was such a cool experience! These guys uncovered that pig which had been baking in the ground, covered with hot stones, banana leaves, wet burlap and finally a plastic tarp. They rolled it onto the tarp, heaved it up on that table and began to pull the tender meat off of the entire pig.

Here is a fun fact for you – Luau, in Hawaiian is actually the name of the taro leaf, which when young and small after being steamed for a few hours resembles cooked spinach.

Everyone brought food to the Luau and there were scads and scads of yummy stuff lining the tables.

After we ate, we sat under awnings on lawn chairs and watched a hula dance company.

It was a cultural breath of fresh air and the costumes were breathtaking. And hey, how about that guy in the middle?

I was interrupted by a soft buzz of whispers at some point. My mother-in-law appeared to be conducting some sort of underground black market deal with someone who held something that looked oddly like a giant slab of flat sushi.

“Where did you GET that?” I heard her hiss at the person holding it.

Long story short, the Musubi she was inquiring about was held in a cooler and only given to a select few and somehow we managed to score some. I felt like we had conducted a Luau secret drug deal only the high of tasting this stuff would far beat any drug you could get.

Weeks later Mr. Wonderful made some.

Last night we made more…it’s oddly satisfying.  There are varying recipes out there for the sauce that glazes the crispy-brown spam just before you top a molded bed of rice with it and wrap it in a crispy nori sheet.

You can mold the rice yourself or do like we did – Mr. Wonderful cut the top of the Spam can to about 1/2 of an inch then sanded the bottom edge so it wouldn’t cut us.

We then steamed about 3 cups of rice in the rice cooker and spread it out to about 1/2 inch thickness on a cutting board. then we just used the spam can cutout as a cookie cutter of sorts.

The more you lightly press on the rice in the mold the better as it will firm up and stick together better and won’t fall apart.

You can totally make a ball and just mold these with your hands to about the same size as the Spam if you don’t want to mess with the can thing.

In a small sauce pan add 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 1/2 cup of sugar and just heat until the sugar melts and dissolvesabout 3-4 minutes.

Cut your Spam into 8 even slices (they will be about 1/4 inch thick). Now in a large flat skillet add in your Spam and a tiny bit of oil to fry it in. Fry it on both sides about 3 minutes or until it starts to brown. Flip it over and do the same on the other side.

Then pour your soy/sugar mixture in and just keep simmering it another 5 minutes or so until it’s all sticky and caramel-like.

Cut your Nori sheets to the width you want….you can make them thinner or keep them whole so they cover the entire thing. Mr. Wonderful loves the flavor so he uses the whole thing!

Also depending on how much rice you like, you can do a single version.

You simply pick up one rice cake and lay it in the center of the Nori sheet then lay one of the glazed Spam pieces right on top of it. I would also like to add, that if there is any sauce left in that pan, I’d spoon some and spread it on top of the rice cake to soak in. It’s delicious that way.

Then you wet your fingers and moisten the edge of the Nori that will overlap and voila! It sticks shut! You can also do a sandwich type double rice cake version like Mr. Wonderful likes.

These are best eaten warm right off the cutting board with someone you love.

Hawaiian Musubi
  • 3-4 c. white short-grain rice cooked
  • 1 can Spam
  • ½ c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 4-8 sheets Nori
  • bowl of water for helping the Nori stick
  1. If using Spam can as cutter - saw off top ½ inch of Spam can and file or sand down rough bottom edge to be flat and smooth
  2. Cook rice
  3. Cut Spam into 8 even slices
  4. Fry Spam in large fry pan on both sides (3-4 minutes per side) until browned
  5. In small sauce pan, simmer soy and sugar until sugar is dissolved, stirring often
  6. Pour soy mixture into pan with Spam lifting it up with spatula to allow it to caramelize underneath.Turn Spam a few times until soy mixture thickens and glazes both sides of Spam completely.
  7. Cut Nori to preferred size
  8. If using Spam can as cutter - spread rice ½ inch thick (a little less) onto cutting board. Use another cutting board to press down and flatten.Cut out 8-16 rice cakes depending on whether you want the single or sandwich


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