Spam Musubi

this post was originally published in october 2013. i’ve since updated the picture, which you may recognize from my header. if you would like to see the old picture, you can click here (and see what my site used to look like pre-custom domain wheeeee), or don’t and just know that this picture is much better than that one.

there’s something about the combination of salty, pleasantly squishy meat with caramelized bits of teriyaki sauce, firm grains of rice and pliable, briny seawood. it was the first sandwich-like thing i ever ate. for me, it speaks of basketball and sweaty socks and doting mothers.

by now, you are probably confused. if you understand, then you deserve a spam musubi.

spam musubi has been a cornerstone of my life. i’ve eaten it countless times in the middle of basketball tournaments, church functions and parties. it’s made a sacred place for processed meat in my heart. and if i do say so myself, i’m not only a master spam eater but a master spam musubi maker (all my time making spam musubi for my church youth group has definitely contributed to my self-proclamation).

i believe there’s a certain way to make it. i don’t care about the seaweed, as long as it’s the right size for my plastic spam mold and it doesn’t crack. therefore, make sure you have the big sushi-type sheets, not the small seasoned snacky ones. everything else is pretty specific, though. it has to be made with white rice. now is not the time to pull out your deliciously fragrant basmati or your “i’m going to be healthy” ancient sprouted grain that works wonders for your digestive system. use white rice, and you’ll be okay.

another thing about the rice: you want to use fresh, hot rice. i find that it helps seal the final musubi nicely. but if you’re trying to make spam at seven in the morning, you probably aren’t going to want to get up at six to make a pot. what you do is make a batch in your rice cooker right before bed. unplug the machine and let the rice sit in there overnight. it may not be hot, but it won’t get hard like it would if you refrigerated it overnight. sure, it’s not the most sanitary, but it’s just rice. it won’t spoil in 8 hours.

you can season the rice as you would for sushi, with rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. i don’t, as 1) i’m a lazy butt, and 2) i would eat all of the rice and have none left for the musubi. if you do decide to season the rice, add seasonings in small doses to taste. seasoning hot rice is better than seasoning cold rice, since the flavors get absorbed better.

second, the spam. i like to use the low sodium one because spam is pretty salty. especially if the maker, like me, enjoys caramelizing the slices in copious amounts of teriyaki. but i’m getting ahead of myself. i think the key to the spam is that you have to make sure it gets crispy and golden brown on both sides. i bought a spam musubi at a club’s day (a day at school where clubs sell food to raise money for their clubs) once, but the spam was pink as a baby’s butt and floppy as a noodle. it was depressing and i threw it away after a bite. yuck. get it crispy. or else it really will be like all those spam horror stories you’ve undoubtedly heard.

back to caramelization. i mix up a quick teriyaki, with some soy and sugar and maybe a bit of rice wine vinegar or mirin if i’m feeling fancy. i fry all the spam, then dump in the teriyaki and let it warm a bit to get the spam coated in dark and shiny deliciousness.

making the musubi takes a bit of time, but it’s really not too bad. as long as you have one of these, you’ll be fine. i’ve heard you can use spam cans as molds, but i’ve never tried, so i can’t vouch for those. but, as spam musubi vets know, the mess-ups are very delicious to munch on.

1 year ago: Anaheim 2016, Baba Ghanoush
2 years ago: Caramelized Veggie and Cheddar Frittata, Creamy Curried Carrot Salad with Walnuts and Sesame
3 years ago: Chicken Dijon, Mix-in-the-Pan Berry Almond Bars

Spam Musubi
Makes 8

soy sauce, sugar for seasoning the Spam
1 can Spam, preferably low-sodium
1 package seaweed (full size)
4 cups cooked rice (see my notes above)
furikake (optional)

  1. Make teriyaki sauce: mix 1 part soy sauce to 1 part sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Cut the Spam into 8 slices lengthwise. Fry in batches until golden brown on both sides. Dump the teriyaki into the pan with half the Spam and let it caramelize. Make sure you don’t burn them! Repeat with the other half of the Spam.
  3. Set a sheet of seaweed shiny side down on a cutting board. Place your Spam musubi mold on top, making sure the edge of the mold meets up with the edge of the seaweed.
  4. Have a small bowl of water ready in case you need it to remove rice from your hands. Scoop some rice into your mold. I usually don’t measure this, but I like to use enough to make about a ½-inch thick layer. Press mold’s plank on top of the rice to gently smoosh the rice down a bit. You want the grains to just stick together, not make rice mush.
  5. Place Spam on top of the rice. I have a big mold like the one I linked, so I use 2 pieces at a time. Use as many slices will fit in one layer in your mold.
  6. I like to drizzle some of the teriyaki from the pan (from when you caramelized the Spam) over the Spam. You could also sprinkle some furikake over, but I like to use the normal ones (so no umeboshi, aka pickled plum, or salmon here unless you’re daring).
  7. Make another layer of rice on top of the Spam (and teriyaki/furikake if you’re using it). Place the plank on top and smoosh down a bit. Hold on to the edge of the mold and bring it up past the rice/Spam/rice stack while the plank is still on top. Remove the plank.
  8. Wrap the seaweed tightly around your rice and Spam stack. Use a bit of water to seal the edges of the seaweed. Let the musubi rest seam side down.
  9. Repeat with the rest of the Spam. I usually have leftover rice.
  10. Once all the musubis have been made, cut them. I like to make each piece of Spam equal to one musubi. I cut my big log in half crosswise. The halves are still pretty wieldy, so I cut those into halves on a diagonal.
  11. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly and place in an airtight container. Serve on the same day. Or you can keep it overnight in a cold garage (keep in mind that people do this in the Bay Area, not New York or Chicago or Korea where it actually gets cold and there’s snow in the winter), just don’t refrigerate it (otherwise the rice will get hard and sad).

more japanese / hawaiian food

Butter mochi is a classic Hawaiian treat that features sweet rice flour, which gives the dessert its characteristic chewy texture.Butter Mochi, Custard Mochi

Yaki manju is a flaky, crispy Japanese pastry filled with sweetened cooked beans. My favorite filling is red bean, though you can also use lima bean.Yaki Manju

36 Replies to “Spam Musubi”

  1. I have never ever eaten Spam! Not sure I am going to start now either. But thanks for sharing the recipe Heather 🙂

    1. definitely not the healthiest thing in the world (; you could sub in other kinds of protein, and pan-fry them until crispy. i’m thinking tofu or maybe some kind of sausage depending on what you eat. will be tasty no matter what (provided that you like seaweed in the first place!), even if it’s no longer spam musubi (;

  2. I love that you created a recipe with Spam! I haven’t eaten Spam in years (decades?), but you make it sound so good. I mean I love a good sushi rice, and Spam caramelized in teriyaki sauce sounds like it would pack a mean punch of flavor. 🙂

    1. spam is comfort food! and i used to have spam musubi after sweating my heart out during basketball games, so a reward too. maybe not a recipe to make everyday, but tasty for a homey, not-that-healthy lunch (:

  3. I haven’t tried spam before, but I think, we’ll make this recipe soon! Thanks for sharing!

    1. i love how it crisps up and it’s on the salty side, so it fulfills those cravings when all i want is salt! (not that common since i have a sweet tooth, but still). hope you like it (:

  4. I’m a vegetarian and have never had spam but you’ve intrigued me! I love seaweed and teriyaki so I know the flavors are good here! Have a great week, Heather!

    1. you could definitely replace the spam with something else! i love how meaty shiitake mushrooms are, and i know that tofu crisps up really nicely, so i bet either of those would be tasty alternatives (:

  5. I’ve haven’t had spam in such a long time! I remember not liking it straight out of the can, but pan-frying to get it crispy is so good. This dish sounds so tasty with the seaweed and seasoned rice!

    1. ooo yeah i’m not a huge fan of spam straight from the can. even touching it isn’t high on my list of favorite things to do. but crisp it up, and man, i’m ready to eat allllll the spam.

  6. I’ve heard of spam musubi, but I’ve never had it myself. I love updated content, sprucing it up with new pictures is always fun. I grew up eating spam before I knew what it was, now I don’t eat meat, BUT, I would love to try spam musubi, maybe next time I got to Hawaii I will indulge.

    1. spam musubi is so easy to make at home (or if you don’t care about being able to take it on the go, rice with seaweed and pan-fried spam tastes just as good) that i’d recommend eating all the other things in hawaii! shaved ice, poke, garlic shrimp, malasadas, lemon crunch cake (highly recommend aiea bowl next time you’re on oahu) feel more worth it to me because i don’t make those things at home 😋

  7. Can I come over for dinner?! This looks yummy! Xoxo 🙂

    1. sure! if you help assemble some of these (;

  8. Ok, now you have me wanting to try Spam for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long. It makes me also re-think the “spam Musubi” going around the conveyor belt at the sushi place, too. Although yours looks so much better and sounds like it is elevated from that situation. Nice new photo!

    1. i haven’t seen spam musubi on sushi conveyor belt places! (this might be because i’m too busy fixating on the eel and salmon). though i have a feeling like homemade is a bit fresher than what’s going around on those (;

  9. I would never think to try spam in something like this. My husband might give me the side eye if I come home with a can of it but now I really must, because I’m so intrigued!!

    1. i think it might be worth the side eye (;

  10. Interesting! I have never tried spam. I have no idea what it tastes like.. So cannot imagine the flavors here. But I would try a lot of things atleast once so maybe it is time to buy a can of spam and caramelize it!

    1. it’s like a bouncy (weird word choice but that’s the most apt word i can think of right now lol) sausage! the flavors in here are pretty simple, though you could change it up based off of the sauce (teriyaki, and you could add mirin to that too) or furikake you use (:

  11. I have never ever eaten Spam but so curious now to give a try! Sounds like a clean quick meal to me.

    1. maybe not that clean (who am i kidding, definitely not clean!! oh well), but fun to try at least once! (:

  12. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE spam musubi. My favorite local Hawaiian take-out place serves a version with an egg omelette and it is amazing.

    1. ooh. i had a “breakfast” spam musubi a couple months ago with bacon, eggs and deep-fried spam, which was unreal (and even less healthy than the original, oops). so i can imagine how good your favorite must be (:

  13. My other half was talking about spam the other day, saying he hasn’t had it for years and really fancied it again. I had no idea what to do with it having been a vegetarian for 30 years and having never eaten it, but this is a great idea. He will love it and I will just replace the spam for tofu for me.

    1. ooo yeah i can imagine! it’s a jiggly squishy hunk of pink, and tbh even i think it’s gross if it’s not done right (;

  14. I love spam. It must be an asian thing. I love it to pieces and I will eat it with rice any day! Healthy or not, its deeeeeeeeeeeeelish! 🙂

    1. now that you mention how it must be an asian thing, i’ve seen it more in japanese/hawaiian/korean culture instead of chinese. maybe chinese people are too obsessed with lap cheong and refuse to eat any other sort of processed salty meat?! idk. (but also LAP CHEONG).

  15. This dish really seems delightful! I would love to try it soon, Heather!

  16. Spam musubi truly is the sushi du jour especially in places like Hawaii. It is indeed a good bento box filler.

    1. so true! and while i typically wrap spam musubi in plastic wrap and hand them out as snacks/lunch, i can imagine how great they’d be in a bento box (:

  17. Are you telling me I can eat my spam? I get a lot of it. 😉

    1. go right ahead! the kind you have might not have the same texture though (;

  18. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe, thanks again

    1. thanks, sheetal!

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