Spam has been pushed to the bottom of the food chain since it was introduced by the military to feed G.I.'s in the battlefield during WWII. Well I'm leading it's charge into the 21st Century with my own cheap$kate Hawaiian Pearl Harbor recipe that uses a hand grenade-sized can of Spam. Just watch my mouthwatering video recipe below, that's done in my unique stop motion animated style.
Spam Musubi was originally created by Hawaiian locals who immigrated from Japan. Teriyaki Spam Musubi is simply a Twinkie-size disc of sticky rice tucked underneath a thick slice of sauteed spam in teriyaki sauce, that's wrapped in a thin sheet of dried seaweed. It is a potent portable package that fits in your hand and is usually eaten on the run and anywhere.
I know that not many of you out there will try this, but you could easily substitute with a small filet of chicken, a slab of firm tofu, or fish like salmon, sauteed in teriyaki sauce.
You know what Spam taste like, don't you? It's mainly made of chopped ham and pork shoulder, so there is a luncheon meat flavor and texture. I noticed on the can's ingredient list, chicken is added, too. There are not a lot of ingredients. Spam tends to be way too salty, but they now make a low sodium version, although I don't know how they can cut down saline from ham.
This recipe is based on what I had on a trip to Oahua, Hawaii (click here to see what I'm talking about.) They sell Spam Musubi in grocery store delis, fast food joints and even under heat lamps in 7-Eleven stores.
12 ounce cans of Spam come on sale for less than $3 per can and you can get 6-8 slices or 6-8 Spam Musubi per can, now that's a good deal. I even find small 7 ounce cans of a luncheon loaf (which is similar to Spam) and single Spam packets at my local 99c only Store. And rice is cheap anywhere you buy it.
Click in any photo to see larger.
Most grocery stores now carry bottles of Teriyaki sauce, but just in case, I have a easy homemade recipe that consists of white wine (mirin or saki,) soy sauce and sugar that's cooked down to a simple syrup.
I also include a recipe for Sushi Rice for you. But if you have a rice cooker then just use that and follow the steaming directions to make plain sticky rice.
The trickiest part is finding dried sheets of seaweed. But now select grocery stores have begun to carry packages in the International aisle. We have a Little Tokyo here in downtown Los Angeles, so I can get a package of 10 sheets of seaweed for around $2, not bad.
Hey, I'll admit that getting Spam on your plate is an uphill battle, but my Teriyaki Spam Musubi may warm your Cold War heart just enough to wave a white dinner napkin and call a truce!
Teriyaki Spam Musubi - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 6 minutes, 32 seconds.
My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.
Ingredients (6-8 pieces)
- 1 can of Spam - or any canned luncheon meat. You can substitute chicken filets, firm fish, firm tofu or even a ham steak, instead of Spam. Just prepare it the same way I describe below.
- 1 to 2 sheets of dried seaweed - slice into strips, anywhere from 2-4 inches wide. Up to you how much seaweed you like.
- 2 cups of cooked Sushi or Sticky rice - more or less, depending how large the Musubi pieces become. Each Spam Musubi uses about 1/2 cup of cooked rice.
Teriyaki Marinade for Spam (optional, I've had it without marinade, too.)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar - or any favorite sweetener
- 2 tablespoons white wine, sake, or mirin (Japanese wine.)
*It's okay to use a store bought Teriyaki Sauce instead of making my Homemade Teriyaki Marinade.
Sticky Sushi Rice
- 1 cup rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar - or apple cider vinegar.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt - or, to taste.
- Water to rinse rice -- about 6 cups.
*Leave out vinegar and sugar for plain Sticky Rice.
Directions for Sushi Rice
If you have a rice cooker, then make the rice according to directions. If not, then follow my directions below for regular stove top cooking.
The following recipe is for Sticky Sushi Rice, so I add sugar and vinegar to cooked rice. You can leave it out and just work with water and a little salt for plain Sticky Rice.
Put 1 cup of rice in a bowl that will hold at least 2 cups of water. Fill bowl and stir rice until water is cloudy. Dump water (not rice) and refill. Repeat 3 or 4 times until water is almost clear.
Add rice to a pot with a cover and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer water with rice 15 minutes. Turn off heat, give the rice a quick stir (to release any stuck to the pot bottom,) and let sit covered for 15 more minutes.
After rice has set for 15 minutes add it to a glass or ceramic bowl. Make sure not to add any dried out rice that is stuck to the bottom of the pot. This will be a problem later - when you form the rice ovals, they may easily break apart.
Just drizzle on rice vinegar over the cooked rice. Sprinkle in salt and sugar. Stir rice gently to coat it all. (Turn rice slowly to keep grains from getting mushy.)
Cover with a kitchen cloth or a plate and let it rest another 15 minutes. Sushi Rice is used at room temperature -- not hot or cold. Keep rice covered with a cloth (or lid) so it doesn't dry out, until ready to use.
Directions for Cooking Spam
Remove Spam loaf from can and slice into about 6-8 slices. Up to you how thick you like Spam "steaks."
Add tablespoon oil to medium/hot pan. Add spam slices to pan. Brown at least one side, about 3-5 minutes. After one side of Spam is brown, flip it over.
While Spam browns you can make the Teriyaki Marinade Sauce.
In a small bowl add soy sauce, white wine (mirin or sake) and sugar. Mix to dissolve sugar or favorite sweetener.
Pour in Marinade sauce or store bought Teriyaki sauce. In Hawai'i they sell plain fried Spam Musubi, so if you don't like sweet Teriyaki sauce then leave it out.
Heat Spam with Marinade until it thickens, about 3 minutes. Turn Spam slices to coat each side with Marinade.
When Marinade is thick like syrup, turn off heat. If you use store-bought Teriyaki sauce then it is already like syrup, so all you need to do is heat it about a minute or two.
Now time to assemble Teriyaki Spam Musubi.
Slice sheet of dried seaweed. You want strips that are about 2 inches wide and long enough to wrap around molded rice and cooked Spam. I've seen some Musubi with wider slices of seaweed, too.
There are several ways to make a Sticky Rice layer. The main thing is you have to press the rice and form it to about the size of a slice of spam, and an inch or two thick block of rice.Watch my video just above the Ingredients lists to see how I do it - in motion.
You can form the rice with your hands. Dampen hands and grab a spam-size ball of rice, about half a cup. Gently roll it around in your palm to form a ball. Squeeze your fist and roll the rice to form an oval.
Click on any photo to see larger.
Press harder when the shape is about right. You can use the moistened fingers of your other hand to help press and shape the rice oval.
The end result is an oval of rice that is about 2 inches by 4 inches. It doesn't have to be perfect -- a little larger or smaller is okay. The main thing is to squeeze the rice together hard enough so it holds together when Spam is added.
You can also use the Spam can as a cookie cutter. On clean surface, or a sheet of plastic wrap, make a mound of rice about the size of a Spam slice and 4 times as thick.
Flatten the rice until about 2 inches thick. Press the rice all over so it is compressed and the rice grains are stuck together. Place spam can over rice and cut out Spam shape.
Lift off Spam can to reveal cut and molded rice. Take the extra rice and set aside for more rice molding.
Maybe the best way to form the rice is to wrap it in plastic.
Get a mound of Sticky Rice about the size of Spam slice, and 4 times as thick (about 1/2 a cup of rice.) Place the rice on a sheet of plastic wrap. Add a slice of cooked Spam on the rice.
Now bring up the 4 corners of plastic wrap and twist the ends together until rice is bundled under the Spam. Press down on the Spam and Sticky Rice to compress. Twist, press and form the rice to fit Spam. When Sticky Rice and Spam hold together, then unwrap the plastic.
*You can also order a Spam Musubi mold online, an Amazon link is here.
Now you are ready to finish wrapping Spam and rice with dried seaweed.
Place strip of dried seaweed on a dry surface and top with the rice and Spam. Most directions say that seaweed is shiny side down - dull side is up, that is, when you wrap the Spam and rice, the shiny side shows when done. I don't worry about this. Shiny or dull side, it tastes the same - and the seaweed will seal, which ever side is wet.
Dampen you fingers and rub on seaweed end to seal it.
Just repeat the assemble steps until all the Spam and rice is used.
The main problem I find is that the Sticky Rice may not be sticky enough - for whatever reason. The easiest fix to to just eat Spam Musubi upside down, that is, use the spam as a small plate.
The other solution is to have a wide enough piece of dried seaweed that wraps the Spam and Sticky Rice completely, like a sandwich. Some Musubi is normally made this way. While it may seem like a lot of seaweed, it isn't really, since seaweed is very thin.
It's important that cooked Sticky Rice is kept at room temperature and not refrigerated. It will start to dry out and not be sticky enough to hold together. You want to make it the same day you eat it.Spam Musubi from Musubi Cafe (blogpost here) was room temperature, and from a 7 Eleven it's kept warm wrapped in plastic and under a heating lamp. Of course you can use the rice for something else; or serve fried Spam Teriyaki with sticky rice on the side.
Even the best Sticky Rice may crumble apart some. So it's okay to eat Musubi upside down, that way if rice breaks apart the Spam serves as a plate platform to hold rice. And for crumbly rice it easiest to use a wide sheet of seaweed and wrap the Spam and rice like a sandwich.
Okay to leave out vinegar and sugar in Sticky Rice, it's just extra flavor.
You can use as much cooked rice per Musubi. My wife like less rice, while I like a lot.
I had Spam Musubi in Hawai'i and they make it plain and with a sweet sauce. Make it with my Marinade Sauce or not - it's up to you. It's okay to use a store bought Teriyaki sauce or any favorite marinade.
If you are put off by Spam, then it easy to substitute a filet of chicken, firm fish like salmon, firm tofu or a ham steak suteed in the teriyaki sauce - it will be delish.
To see other Hawaii Travelogue blog posts with video, photos, text & GIFs, just click on any link below:
Visit to O'ahu, Hawai'i - intro
Windward Shore & Keneke Grill
Visit to O'ahu, Hawai'i - intro
Windward Shore & Keneke Grill