Last week I promised a Spam musubi tutorial and today, Naoto is helping me deliver! We had a little Spam photo shoot on Sunday afternoon and then shared the bounty with our neighbor friends. At first, I was thanking Naoto for “taking one for the team” and spending part of his Sunday cooking for the blog…then I quickly realized that whipping up Spam musubis was no great sacrifice. Naoto was in musubi heaven all afternoon (and again for lunch today).
When he was growing up in Hawaii, Naoto often ate Spam musubi for lunch and after-school snacks. His host mom used to make him a stack of musubis as a reward for getting his chores done. I had never heard of a Spam musubi until Naoto and I went to visit his host family in 2003. “Auntie” (Naoto’s host mom) packed us a lunch to take to the beach. I was picturing turkey sandwiches, chips and some fruit (I’m so Midwestern!)…I got Spam musubis. Naoto thought it was hilarious.
Today I am sharing Naoto’s musubi recipe, which is the one he grew up eating. Making Spam musubis takes a few steps but it’s ridiculously easy, and timing is flexible since you can eat them warm or at room temperature.
To make approximately ten musubis, you will need:
1 can Spam
4 cups rice (the short grain sticky kind, we use Kokuho brand calrose rice)
1 package nori (seaweed sheets)
furikake (rice seasoning, optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
1/4 cup soy sauce
Spam musubi mold (optional, but helpful…you can also make a mold from your empty Spam can)
First, prepare your rice. We have a rice cooker, so we just start it up and and rice magically appears (pretty much). While the rice is cooking, you can work on the rest of the musubi set up.
To make the glaze for the Spam, add the mirin, soy sauce and sugar to a small saucepan.
Stir and heat on medium/low until the sugar is dissolved. Then, take the glaze off the heat and set aside.
Next, prepare and grill the Spam. Open the can.
Look at that glorious canned ham pink.
Slice it into 1/4 inch slices. A can will yield about ten slices. If you’d like a thicker slice, then by all means, cut it thicker! There are no rules.
Once the Spam is sliced, grill the Spam on medium heat. If you’re using a non-stick grill pan, there is no need to spray your cooking surface first. A few minutes on each side should be enough. You’ll know it’s done when the Spam turns a darker peachy pink color. When the Spam is done, lay it on a plate lined with a paper towel while you grill up the rest of the can.
While the Spam is cooking, cut your nori. Naoto likes the nori to cover the length of the entire musubi. He uses his musubi form to determine the size. Some Spam musubis have a thinner strip of nori around them. It’s a personal preference thing.
If you’d like to season your rice, you can do that while the Spam is grilling, too. For the party, Naoto didn’t season the rice, but most often the rice is seasoned with furikake. Furikake comes in all sorts of flavors, but most furikake consists of dried fish, sesame seeds, dried seaweed, salt, sugar and MSG. It adds another dimension of flavor to the musubi. For these, Naoto used my furikake: sesame seeds, seaweed and salt. (I bought it because it came in a cute sea otter container.) Just sprinkle the furikake on and stir it in.
Once all preparation is done, you’re ready to assemble the musubis!
Dip your cooked Spam in the glaze. (You can leave a few pieces in the glaze while you set up the rest of your musubi.)
Lay a piece of nori on your work surface (Naoto uses a large sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper on top for his assembly station.) and put your musubi form on top.
Fill the form with rice.
Add a slice of glazed Spam.
With your musubi mold handle, press the rice and Spam firmly into the mold. (No need to go crazy here…just press firmly enough to set the rice and Spam into the mold.)
Lift off the musubi mold and wrap the nori around the Spam and rice. Naoto uses a touch of water to help seal the nori seam.
And you’re done! Eat and enjoy! (Naoto didn’t even set this first one down before he ate it!)
The Spam website has its own recipe for musubis, too, if you’d like to see another way to prepare them. (They use a small nori band on theirs instead of the full coverage nori that Naoto uses.) If you try Naoto’s recipe or another, we’d love to hear about it!