Eli: Spam Musubi: Hawaiian and delicious. It’s unique. I had never heard of it until I met my wonderful Schatzi. When we first started seeing each other, I had heard her mention it to her sister a few times, but I had no idea what she was talking about. I knew that there was an affinity to Spam in Hawaii and Southeast Asia, but I never gave much thought to it other than it was popularized during World War II by American soldiers. Honestly, when I made Spam Musubi, it was the first time I had ever had Spam.
[Schatzi: Apparently, Spam musubi became popular only in the Eighties, but by the time I was in intermediate school, it was ubiquitous enough that one of my Home Ec projects was making a musubi maker, the one used here, even. It seems like everyone back home eats them, and you can find them at any gas station, convenience store, or supermarket. They’re perfect for taking to the beach as a snack. Or for any time, really. They’re so ono!]
Eli: I don’t really know why I never tried Spam. It has always been appealing. I guess it didn’t help that I was raised on “hippie” food, so Spam jokes or horror tales of consuming the canned-meat product never turned me off. I guess all I can say is that I just never got around to it.
Musubi is classified as onigri, which is a Japanese snack of formed rice filled with fruits, meats, or pickled vegetables. This version of Spam Musubi, which may be less popular, is actually sushi in that the rice has sugar and Rice Vinegar added.
[Schatzi: There is no real recipe for Spam mususbi, other than rice, nori, Spam, and sometimes furukake. I like it with the sauce, which usually contains mirin, but we didn’t have any. And Eli’s right: you don’t sushi the rice for Spam musubi! But he’s a haole, so I let him have his head this time. He’ll learn.]
Eli: So here is the recipe:
2 cp uncooked short-grain white rice
2 cp water
6 T rice vinegar
pinch of salt
1/4-cp shoyu (soy sauce)
1/4-cp oyster sauce
1/2 cp white sugar + 2 T For rice
1 12 oz can of Spam
5 sheets of sushi nori (dry seaweed)
musubi maker (rice former), or Spam can with both ends removed
1. Open the can of Spam and remove contents. This is satisfying as it makes a great slorping sound. Slice Spam into 10 even slices lengthwise.
Make the marinade by combining the shoyu, oyster sauce, and ½ cup sugar and marinate the Spam until the rice is almost done (10 minutes remaining).
2. Add rice, water, and pinch of salt to a pot and bring to a boil. As soon as the rice comes to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
3. With 10 minutes left for the rice to cook, heat a skillet to medium heat and add a small amount of vegetable oil. Remove pieces of Spam from marinade and cook on both sides until browned and caramelized, but not crispy. (This part smells so great!) Set aside until the sushi-rice has been prepared.
4. After the rice has cooked, remove from pot into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and rice vinegar making sure to evenly disperse allowing for even incorporation. Mix gently with a rice-paddle or spatula.
7. Cut the nori width-wise into thirds. Scissors are a great tool for this.
6. There are a number of ways to do this next step but this was my favorite. Place a cut sheet of nori onto a cutting board. Place musubi maker or Spam can in the center of the nori perpendicular to it. Put enough rice into your musubi maker to fill it half way. Place a piece of cooked Spam on top of the rice and press down HARD enough to avoid a catastrophe or hernia. Carefully release the musubi from the maker by pressing down on the musubi while lifting the maker.
Wrap the musubi with the nori that the nori has been positioned on fairly tight. The nori will stick to the musubi. Keep on musubi-ing until you have 10 Spam Musubis. I used too much rice for the first couple, so I only ended up with eight. Spam happens.
[Schatzi: These were really good, the sushi rice made for for the mirin tang missing from the sauce. We polished them off by the next morning, though we did share one with our pal Hutch. He enjoyed them, too.]