A pair of pantry staple ingredients, rice and spam, make a simple, no-fuss guilty pleasure comfort food “Spam Musubi”. You can make this popular Japanese infusion Hawaiian hybrid rice balls with minimal effort.
So what is Spam Musubi?
Just in case you have never heard of “Spam Musubi”. Spam is canned ham, and Musubi means rice balls in Japanese. It is a type of rice ball very popular in Hawaii. Fried sliced spam on top of pressed shaped rice and tied up with a strip of Nori seaweed.
What is Spam?
Spam is a brand of canned ham. This American iconic brand was launched in 1937 in Minneapolis and grew in popularity during WWII as it was an easily transported protein source. It is made from pork and tastes like pork and ham. Often used for sandwich filling but also used for Asian inspired dishes.
Is it Hawaiian Food?
While I researched about Spam Musubi, I found the book “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawaii” by Kysar Alana. According to the book, People in Hawaii consume more Spam than the rest of the USA and Spam Musubi is Hawaii’s iconic way to dish up Spam.
Pantry ingredients you need
You need to gather a 7oz(200g) can of Spam, Plain cooked rice, Furikake or toasted sesame seeds and nori seaweed sheet.
You need rice vinegar, sake, soy sauce, sugar, potato starch (katakuriko).
Tips to Make it Delicious
The Spam Musubi recipe is very simple and requires only a few ingredients from your pantry. So it is important to prepare each ingredient carefully to make your musubi delicious.
Choose short-grain Japonica rice preferably, Koshihikari . This type of rice is sticky and therefore suitable for making rice balls. It will keep the shape when it is pressed in a mold and the rice balls will not crumble when you bite. See and read further in how to cook Japanese rice successfully and also how to cook rice without a rice cooker.
Add Sesame Seeds to the Rice
I often add sesame seeds to plain cooked rice. Because toasted sesame seeds not only adds a nutty aroma and flavor but also they contain a variety of nutrients in that little tiny seed. Read more about sesame seeds in Goma Ae post. (step by step photo 1)
Brown the Spam
The 7oz(200g) can of Spam is sliced into 6 slices and it is the perfect thickness. Also, you need to fry them and brown them thoroughly both sides. This step also renders fat from Spam and make the slices nice and crispy. (step by step photos 6 & 7)
Use the Spam tin as the Musubi Mold
You don’t need to have a special rice ball mold. In fact, the washed Spam tin becomes the rice ball mold. And for that reason, the small size Spam can is perfect. It is a perfect mold for this musubi because the size of sliced spam and the size and shape of musubi perfectly match. (step by step photos 13-15)
If the guilt hits too hard on you or maybe you have a special dietary requirement and cannot eat Spam, substitute with firm tofu pieces instead.
Perfect for Bento Lunch Box
This musubi is perfect for the lunch box. Because it ticks the Bento rules. It is well seasoned to eat it later and also it has the moisture removed as much as possible. If you use the right type of rice (Japonica short grain) it keeps the shape and will not fall apart. So it is perfect for bento lunch boxes.
What could you serve with Musubi?
One spam musubi is quite filling, so it can be the main meal. I would suggest to serve it with vegetable sides or soups.
- 1.5 cup/310g Rice (uncooked) *1
- 1 tbsp Toasted sesame seeds *2
- 1 Nori seaweed sheet
- 1 can of small Spam 7oz(200g) *3
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake *4
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar *5
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp Katakuriko (potato starch) *6
- 1 tbsp water
- Cook rice according to your rice cooker instruction or see the recipe *7
- When the rice been cooked, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds into the rice and combine them.
- Cut the nori sheet into 6 strips and set aside.
- Open the spam tin and carefully wash the empty tin for later use.
- Slice the spam ham into 6 slices of even thickness, lengthwise.
- Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the sliced Spam. Cook and brown one side for about 2-3 min.
- Flip them all and cook and brown thoroughly for another 2-3 min. *8
- Turn the heat off and transfer the spam slices on to a kitchen paper lined plate. Set aside.
- Clean and remove all the oil left in the frying pan and add all sauce ingredients into the pan over low heat.
- Stir continuously and when the sauce is thickened, put the Spam slices back into the frying pan and coat the spam with the sauce. Turn the heat off.
- Line the washed spam tin with cling wrap and put 1/6 of the cooked rice into the tin.
- Press the rice down with a Japanese pestle or with your hand.
- Remove the pressed rice with cling wrap by pulling out the end of cling wrap.
- Open up the cling wrap. Top with a fried spam. *9
- Place the nori strip over on the centre of the spam and wrap over the spam and rice ball (musubi).
- Tack both ends of nori strip under the Spam musubi.
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