While I lurrrrve pork and all things porky, I’ve never been a fan of meat that can be molded and sculpted into
cubes interesting shapes so spam was never really on the menu. Needless to say, after discovering a tangy, spicy, and savory way to use up leftover kimchi I’ve come to realize that spam isn’t just for post-apocalyptic pantries or fodder for humorous Brits. Truthfully, even before that I had already succumbed to the siren call of スパムお結び or spam omusubi (also spam musubi), a sweetly savory and tangy type of 押し鮨 oshizushi or press box sushi, sort of a sushi terrine as it were. Spam omusubi is really a Hawaiian concoction but glazing the spam in teriyaki sauce and layering it with sushi rice, 漬物 tsukemono (pickled veggies) like 沢庵漬 takuandzuke (pickled daikon), and 振り掛け furikake (dried seasonings) like かつお節 katsuobushi (smoked skipjack tuna) all wrapped in a sheet of 海苔 nori (toasted seaweed) gives you a delicious snack with Japanese flavors that hits the spot when you’re waiting for dinner or makes an exotic sandwich for your lunch bento or even out on a hike.
First it’s weird
sculptable ingredients and now special molds??
1) So you don’t have a musubi press? If you live near a Japanese grocery store or home goods place, you can usually find them for around $5-6. The internet is also a great place to pick one up, although the added shipping cost will make it more like $10. Or, you could go really old school and use the can your spam came from. Yup. Originally, I’m told, spam musubi was made using the spam can by cutting out both the top and bottom of the can, stuffing the layers in, pressing down with the lid of the can and pushing everything out in a strata. It’s somewhat risky as you would be pressing with sharp metal edges but….
2) What if I don’t like pickles? No worries. Many versions are super simple and only contain spam, rice and nori. My friend, whose Japanese-Hawaiian Mom-in-law taught her this recipe which she generously passed on to me, makes it this way and I must say I like the different layers of flavors and crunch from the pickled daikon. I’ve also seen this with 卵焼き tamagoyaki (the sweet-savory Japanese omelet you sometimes see as nigirizushi) and even kimchi??
3) What’s the single most important thing to know about making spam musubi? Always keep your mold and cutting knife wet. Rice, especially sushi rice, is really sticky so wetting your press in between rolls will keep things from getting stuck. I also use the sharpest knife I have (often sharpening it before making omusubi) to cut the roll into bite sized pieces. You can also eat it as one big piece but well, I’m dainty 😉 Cut the roll in half, re-wet your knife for each cut and then cut the halves in half until you get to the size that you like.
12 oz reduced sodium spam
2 tbsp teriyaki sauce (you can also use store bought brands like Mr. Yoshida’s if you’re in a hurry) **if cooking gluten-free, follow the gluten-free option for my recipe or use a gluten-free commercial brand like Kikkoman
4-inch section 沢庵漬 (takuandzuke) pickled daikon
1- 1 1/2 tsp Katsuobushi furikake seasoning
2 c steamed fresh sushi rice
1 sheet nori
Remove spam from can and cut lengthwise into 8 equal pieces. This recipe only uses 2 pieces cuz that’s about how much we can eat at a time. You can just quadruple this to make the entire can at once or do what I do and freeze the cut pieces, 2 pieces per zip bag, to be thawed when the urge hits you. Fold the nori sheet in half lengthwise and cut or tear in half.
In a small skillet, brown both sides of spam over medium heat. Add teriyaki sauce and simmer spam in the sauce to glaze it for 30-60 seconds per side. Remove from heat and set aside till cool enough to handle ~10 minutes. Slice the daikon lengthwise into 1/2-inch rectangles. (You can freeze the leftover pieces for future use)
Wet the musubi mold (I like to submerge it in a deep tupperware container that I keep next to the cutting board) and place on top of nori then fill with ~1/3 c rice and gently tamp down so that it’s relatively flat. Sprinkle rice with furikake then dredge the spam in the teriyaki sauce so that it’s adhered to the spam and lay on top of the rice. Sprinkle spam with furikake then lay a piece of daikon on top and sprinkle with furikake. Top with another 1/3 c rice and then press everything down with the plunger so that the layers are tightly packed. Apply even pressure down with the plunger and slowly lift up the mold. Wrap the nori around the rice so that the ends overlap on top, wetting both edges so that it adheres to the rice and the other edge. Repeat with the second piece of spam. See cutting tips up above. Makes 2 rolls/servings. 頂きます!
**Based on my calculations, 1 roll has around 300 calories, 7.6 g protein, 12 g fat, 30 mg cholesterol, 1155 mg sodium, and 34 g carbohydrates.