Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Spam Musubi

I don't know where I first heard about Spam musubi—it was a long time ago—but I do recall the moment I decided to make it myself. ES and I were having lunch in L&L Hawaiian BBQ, and we'd just ordered two musubi, one made with Spam and one made with Portuguese sausage. Both were delicious, of course; both were also about two bucks each, and it struck me that a whole can of Spam doesn't cost much more. "Oh yes," I muttered, doing the math in my head as I ate. "I can totally do this myself."

By all accounts Spam musubi is excellent travel food, and with a weekend trip to Taos, New Mexico coming up (more on that, to come!), I decided that then would be the perfect time to give it a try.
And so, a few weeks later—the night before ES and I took off for Taos—I gathered my ingredients. Actually, all I had to do was buy the Spam, since I already had everything else on hand.
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Following this tutorial from Serious Eats, I cut the block of Spam into eight pieces, placed them in a frying pan, let them fry on each side for a few minutes, and then added a mix of soy sauce and sugar. Soon enough, the pieces of Spam began caramelizing, taking on the added sweet-saltiness of the soy sauce glaze.
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It was here that we hit a bit of a snag. I didn't have a musubi maker, and we didn't have anything that could cleanly (and safely) cut off the bottom of the Spam can. With some experimenting, we figured out we could still pack in the layers of rice, Spam, and furikake, and then simply whack the packed can upside down a few times on a sheet of nori, encouraging the layers to fall back out.

(Note that this only works with real Spam cans; I tried this with a knock-off brand of "luncheon meat," and its can lacked the nonstick properties of Spam's. I had to improvise with that one, in the end lining the can with plastic wrap—leaving an overhang over the sides—so that once I added the layers of rice, etc., I could pull up the plastic "handles" and retrieve the firmly packed layers. It was tedious and a bit messier, but it worked…now you know what to do if you're in a pinch.)
Of course, we had to try one right away, to get the full effect of the still-crisp nori against the warm rice, furikake, and Spam filling. Delicious, and even better than the version from L&L! They were still good the next day, too, when we ate them during our drive down to Taos, though freshly made was definitely best.

(Also, a month later, when my parents flew out for a visit, I made Spam musubi again, for us to take on a picnic. My dad spotted the bag of dried mango I had on the counter and came up with the idea to put a few slices into the musubi. It actually makes a fine combination, as the mango adds a hit of fruity sweetness that works well with the saltiness of the meat. If you try this yourself, the only recommendation I'd make it that you cut the mango pieces smaller—the strips tend to come out in one piece with the first bite.)

Anyway, now it's safe to say that I will rarely, if ever, buy Spam musubi from a shop again, given that it's so easy to make yourself—and so much cheaper. Though if I'm ever actually in Hawaii, I might have to take that back….


  1. whoa, so crafty, and it looks really yummy! next time i'm in portugal, i'm trying this with our linguiça (portuguese sausage) :D

  2. Ana, let me know how it turns out!

  3. I think pineapple rings cooked for just a couple of minutes in that yummy sauce then cut in half would be awesome in this!