Smithsonian Institution
Join Our Email Mailing List
Festival Radio
Support the Festival

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Hawaiian Recipe

Spam Musubi
Recipe by Warren Sonoda

Marinade:
  • 1 cup sticky rice, steamed
  • 1¼ cups water

Rinse out rice to clean it of impurities. After rinsing a few times, water will be cloudy. Rinse until water is clear (for a faster result, place rice in strainer, run the water over and stir). Steam rice for 30 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Teriyaki Sauce:
  • 1 cup Shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1¼ cups brown or white sugar (honey or sugar substitute may be used)
  • ½ oz ginger, grated
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced

Place all ingredients in a pot/sauce pan, bring to boil, and stir for 1 minute. Simmer for three minutes. This will help dissolve the sugar evenly and infuse the essence of the ginger and garlic. This is the basic teriyaki sauce. To enhance the flavor of the liquid, vinegars, fruit juices, preserves, vegetables may be added.

  • 1 can of Spam, sliced (should be sliced the same shape as the musubi press)
  • 1 cup of rice wine or white vinegar
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • Package of roasted Nori cut lengthwise into 2 or 3-inch widths
  • 1 musubi mold/press (available at some Asian stores and Internet)
  • Su (optional—some people like to add this to the hot rice for sushi rice flavor)

Heat pan with a touch of vegetable oil, and fry Spam to desired brownness. Set Spam and juice aside. In pot/sauce pan, bring rice wine, sugar, and salt to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Pour one eighth cup of rice wine and sugar mixture on the hot rice, and let it sit until warm and ready to assemble Spam musubi.

To assemble:
Place a strip of Nori on plate. Center musubi mold on nori. Put rice in mold, about 1–1¼ inches high. Note: Rice should be warm. Sprinkle with salt, if needed, to flavor rice. Remember, Spam and teriyaki sauce are naturally salty.

With presser, gently press the rice to take the shape of the mold. Note: After a few presses the rice may cool off and rice press begins to build up stickiness. To remedy this, wipe clean or dip in bowl of water. A little water will not harm the process.

Brush a thin layer of teriyaki sauce on rice. Place a piece of browned Spam on the rice. Place fingers in the mold pressing down gently on the musubi. With the other hand, lift the mold and set aside. Dab a little water on one end of the Nori strip (this will act as an adhesive). Gently wrap the Nori strip ends to the top center of the musubi.

Finally, one last thought. Rice is revered in Asian cultures. Yet, Musubi making can be fun and innovative. Add and/or substitute any ingredient into the mix. It doesn’t have to be Spam.

Click to enlarge

Warren Sonoda making spam musubi