Spam Musubi

by leah

Ok, this dish is my new obsession. If this is what all food is like in Hawaii then put me on a plane and whack a lei over my head cause I am sold. From my limited understanding of things, Musubi is out-of-hand food in Hawaii. Put simply, it’s rectangular spam nori maki (sushi roll). It’s the perfect melding of the Hawaiian obsession with spam and the deep vein of Japanese culture that’s present on the islands.

I know that you think it sounds gross, but it’s seriously delicious.  I ate 3 of them sold from coolers by Japanese/Hawaiian vendors at the cherry blossom festival a few weeks ago and now I’m hooked. This is bake sale convenience food, the Hawaiian equivalent of a tamale.

Now I can feel you all re-running Monty Python sketches about spam in your heads. Don’t be hating on the spam; it’s salty and savoury and perfect with the nori and rice. It’s perfectly good food. I always wondered why we are ok with canned fish, but canned pork products are a squeamish no-no. So get over it and make some damn Spam sushi.

Makes 6-8 musubi (dependent upon how thick you like to slice your spam)


  • 3 cups short grain sushi rice (I assume you have a rice cooker, right?)
  • 1 can of spam, sliced into 1cm thick rectangles.
  • 2 tablespoons light soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Furikake (a delicious nori, salt, sesame concoction most often sprinkled on rice – buy it at a Japanese supermarket)
  • Plain nori sheets, cut into thirds lengthwise

Cook the rice and keep warm in a rice cooker. You really need warm, dry rice for this and I find nothing works quite as well as a rice cooker.

Slice the spam and fry it in a non-stick frypan till golden. Stir the brown sugar into the soya sauce. Add the soy sauce mixture to the pan and continue to cook until the spam is caramelised.

Set up a small bowl of warm water, clean your workspace, and begin to assemble.

Lay the nori rectangle longwise in front of you. Place a gob of rice on the nori and shape it with damp hands into a spam sized rectangle. Make it about 1cm thick and about 2 cm up from the end. Sprinkle with furikake and then lay the warm golden spam on the top.

Sprinkle a little more furikake and then top with another recntagle of rice. now gently roll the whole thing together, trying to maintain a perfect rectangular prism shape. Those who make musubi often actually own special rectangular moulds for this but I don’t have space for such gadgetry in my kitchen, and besides, architecturally perfect food sets my teeth on edge.

If not eating immediately, wrap each musubi tightly and neatly in clingfilm and keep warm, serving at or just above room temp. They don’t keep like this for more than 2 hours (the bacterias love room temperature rice and meat) but they will keep in the fridge and reheat rather well in the microwave. Be aware that reheated nori can smell pretty unappealing. However, nothing beats fresh musubi, so make them as close to the time of eating as possible, kinda like a rice sandwich.

Make these for a picnic, a car trip, anything that requires food but rules out the usage of tables, cutlery, plates or any of the other trappings we so commonly employ to shove food into our gobs.