Fantastic Feasts and Where to Find Them: Spam Musubi

Alohaaaa — here’s Fenrir all the way from Hawaii with a quick little Fantastic Feast! I feel like we haven’t seen one of these in a very, very long time, but never fear, dear readers, I’ve got your back with a quirky food idea that you’ve probably heard of but never bothered to try.

Spam musubi - one of the favorite foods of the Aloha state

Spam musubi – one of the favorite foods of the Aloha state

I’m talking about Spam musubi and if you’re brave enough to put aside all thoughts about health and wellness and crack open a can of some mystery meat, you certainly have the makings of a “fool proof” finger-food to scare and delight your friends!

So the Spam musubi is pretty common around the island. Walk into any 7-Eleven or ABC Mart and there’s packs of them lined up for daring tourists and locals to try. They also show up in nearly every street stall, from shaved ice stores to even matsuri food stands, and some of the local fast food eateries, it seems like everyone has Spam musubi on their mind. And it doesn’t hurt that these little guys are really cheap.

As long as you’ve got two bucks you’re ready to go to processed-pork-paradise!

But uh, what is it that makes these things a popular choice? What makes SPAM such a popular choice of protein?

Welps, during World War II SPAM was a rather vital part of US military rations. It’s can and preserved protein that won’t spoil too soon — it’s perfect.  Combined with the fact that a.) the islands don’t necessarily produce plenty of meat, b.) the large military presence that makes SPAM widely available, it’s not too hard to imagine how SPAM integrated itself into the local diet. And the local diet itself is an interesting hodgepodge of cuisines ranging from local Hawaiian to Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino–SPAM surprisingly fits in well as a substitute for many Asian dishes. Throw some teriyaki sauce, miso sauce, soy sauce, or throw it into boiling soup, or even fry it up in a heady mix of SPAM fried rice — it just works. (Although it might not be what you want to eat, at all)

Either way, SPAM was a sensation with the local Asian population — which lends itself to the popularity of this Hawaiian staple. It’s salty meat on a block of rice, smothered in a nice teriyaki-ish sauce, and then wrapped up in nori for easy handling–no hungry person used to three meals a day of some topping and rice as the main staple can say “No” to this convenience food. And thus we have SPAM musubi as this thing that’s just everywhere and that anyone can prepare–in fact I learned how to make this from a relative who was rather amused by my main-lander fascination with it.

And now, dear readers, if you’re willing to give SPAM musubi a whirl, here’s a very easy recipe to make it happen. Note, if you’re not a fan of SPAM, I do not think that this will change your mind about it, but if you’re up to make something kitschy cute and actually easily transportable for a pot-luck or a picnic, this is definitely the recipe for you!

Also another note: Don’t ask me what’s in SPAM, you’ll ruin the mystique.

The Cast of Characters:

– One can of SPAM; if it’ll make you feel better you can get that “75% lighter” version but you shouldn’t kid yourself

– Soy sauce and sugar, to taste

– Warm rice

– Nori seaweed

– You’ll also need a musubi press— because that’s how we’re going to get a perfect rectangular shape okay

– Optional: Fried egg and or furikake — a Japanese condiment made up of dried fish/sesame seeds/seaweed/and other things; there are different flavors and it’s usually just used to enhance the taste of rice — experiment if you want!

Okay so. I was a derp and didn’t end up taking pictures of me MAKING the buggers, but the process is incredibly simple.

1. Cut up your SPAM block into as many pieces as you desire; try to keep them thick, you want to get a meaty portion of SPAM to go with your rice. We ended up getting eight good, thick pieces out of our SPAM block.

2. Mix sugar into your soy sauce to taste; my Auntie didn’t bother to measure, just kind of added as much as she liked/thought she needed. I recommend tasting it as you go — the end result will be kind of a faux teriyaki sauce if that helps.

3. Now fry your SPAM on medium/medium-low heat; we didn’t add extra oil because of the sauce step that’s going to come up next but if you’re afraid of your SPAM sticking add a small glug of oil just to coat.

4. Wait maybe 2 minutes then pour in your sauce and fry it up till you’ve reached your desired crispiness; my Aunt didn’t want hers too burned so she lowered the flame too — we ended up simmering it for a bit actually.

5. Now whip out your press, lay it down on a slice of nori, scoop out a generous amount of rice into the mold press the rice down with the handle; we filled it all the way up to the top because we were just going to lay the SPAM flat on. Some people like to sandwich the SPAM with another layer of rice; if that’s what you desire only fill up the mold halfway.  Also, if you like you can add some furikake to the rice, but we wanted all the SPAMy goodness so we didn’t use it this time.

6. Now violently lay a slice of SPAM on top. If you’ve filled up your mold you’re done and just need to pop it out and wrap the nori around it. If you want to sandwich the SPAM just add another scoop of rice and flatten it down before you wrap it up with the nori.

And there you have it! SPAM musubi goodness! =) Sure it’s strange and mysterious and definitely not the healthiest thing ever, if you’re aching to go to Hawaii you can at least get a taste of some of the local scene by chomping down on some SPAM musubi!

Annnnnd that’s all there is to this long-overdue Fantastic Feast! Tune in next time when we’ll tackle less mysterious food-stuffs, haha!

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Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

Latest posts by Fenrir (see all)

Fenrir

A would-be anthropologist, writer, food historian, and professional glutton hoping to combine fandom with her love of food. Ever wondered what a nug tasted like? Is butterbeer alcoholic? If you've asked such questions and are already drooling at the thought of a big old plate of lembas bread, then you're in the right place

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