Spam Musubi for Lunch

January 27, 2009

Diane’s sister Cathy and her family spent a year in Hawaii. Her husband, Ben, who is a painter, got a job laying mosaic tile. His co-workers introduced him to some of the local food favorites, including Spam musubi, a snack so ubiquitous it could be found at Seven-Elevens.

From what I’ve read, it’s a mashup of the island’s Japanese influences and post-WWII make-do economics. A lot of Spam was dumped on the island after the war rather than shipping it back to warehouses on the mainland. Cheap surplus Spam + rice + seaweed = tasty snack. After looking up a few recipe variations, I decided to give it a try.

Here’s the muse-en-place:

Musubi mise

I made sushi rice, but didn’t add the sweet vinegar. I broke three sheets of nori into six halves. The sauce here is bottled teriyaki because I wanted to finish it off, but a half cup of sugar dissolved in a half cup of soy is preferred. The plastic gizmo is a musubi press, found online. Some recipes say to use the Spam can with the bottom cut off as a mold, but I figured the press was much cheaper than an emergency room visit.

Notice I’m using Spam Lite. I’m nothing if not health-conscious.

Lastly, the jar is furikake, a Japanese condiment meant to be sprinkled on rice. There is a baffling array of this stuff at my local market, so I chose the variety that had the most ingredients: dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, MSG, shiso, and egg.

I uncanned the Spam, listening for the schlorrk it makes as it escapes its gelatinous prison, then cut it into six slabs. The slabs went into a pan on medium heat and cooked until browned on both sides. Then I added the teriyaki and continued cooking until I had glazed Spam (Glazed Spam – good name for a band):

Glazed Spam

Time for assembly: I centered the mold on a sheet of nori, filled it with about a quarter cup of the rice, then compressed it with the plunger. Next was a heavy sprinkle of furikake:

Molded rice

I added a Spam slab, then more rice, and compressed it all again:

Before wrapping

I wrapped the nori around this rice and Spam brick, and sealed the edges with a few stray rice grains. After making the first one, the rest followed pretty quickly:

Musubi finished

I ate one while it was still warm from the rice. It was very filling, very salty, and very tasty. I can see the lunchtime appeal of this snack. I wrapped the rest tightly in plastic wrap; I’ll re-crisp them in a pan when I need a respite from my usual lunchtime sandwich.

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