Sunday, January 1, 2012

Island comfort food- Spam Musubi

It is true that Hawaiian consumed the most Spam in the world and Spam is a stable in most Hawaiian pantry. It was believed that Spam came with the US military and the locals came up with different ways to enjoyed the canned meat, in noodles, fried rice, saimin and with rice and nori, it transformed a omusibi into a Spam  Musubi! A perfect working "person" packed lunch! This is a great article about Spam Musubi: what is spam musubi
There are many different points of view as of who invented Spam Musubi. It was believed that it was invented in Hawaii, of course. There is also the believe that it was a plantation food, a "packed lunch" for the workers. Then, there were also discussion as to whether it is Japanese or Korean. Another  suggestion that it was developed by Homel in Austin, Minnesota for the Hawaiian market. I found this interested that I now live in Minnesota - the home of Spam. 
I am a pretty healthy eater, but there is something very comforting with Spam musubi. I have a ritual that I will stop at a 7-11 to grab one of the special treat wrapped in plastic off the warmer on my way back to the house from the Honolulu airport when I land! It's extremely addictive. Sweet, salty, moist... hmm... it's the ultimate sinful comfort food, sometimes I do wonder whether the melting plastic helps with the flavor :P

There are 2 version of Spam musubi, one with the fried Spam on top of a block of rice, wrapped with nori (seaweed) that you see in most pictures. I actually prepare the "sandwich" version. There is a mold that press down a layer of rice, with the fried spam in the middle, a sprinkle or furikake (Japanese rice topping) top with more rice. You will see both version here

Spam Musubi 
Making the mold
As I mentioned there are 2 kinds of musubi mold that you can purchase in a grocery store or any houseware stores in Hawai'i. You can also make your own from the Spam can. However be every careful since the cut edges with quite sharp. I have not figure out a way to clean off the edge, if you have any idea, I would love to hear from you

Turn the can upside down and puncture a hole.
Cut the bottom off with a poultry shear or a gardening plant cutter.
As you can see the edges are quite sharp. Push down the edges as much as you can with a piler.
Now you have a single serving mold!!

Making the Musubi:
2 cups uncooked Japanese sushi rice. Please make sure you are using Japanese rice. The musubi will not stick together if you are using other variety. Cook rice according to package instruction. Make about 4 cups.
2 Sheets of Nori (roasted seaweed) Cut lengthwise into 3 strips for the single serving.
(3 whole sheets if you are using the "sandwich" mold)
1/4 cups Shoyu
3 tbsp sugar
1/4 Mirin
1/2 tsp salt
Slice Spam into 6-7 slices, about 1/4" thick
Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat, fry Spam until brown and lightly crispy. You do not need any oil, there is quite a bit of fat in the meat
Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. Set aside
Wipe off the grease from the fry pan, Set aside
In a small bowl, combine shoyu, sugar and Mirin
Return the fry pan to medium heat. Pour in the sauce and bring to a boil
Add the fried Spam back into the sauce, coat evenly. Turn off heat and let the meat sit in the sauce.
In a large bowl, cool off the rice and season with salt.
Assembling the single Musubi
Place the Spam mold on a flat surface with the cut side down. Spread 1/4 cup of rice on the bottom.
Press the rice down with spoon to pack down,
Place a piece of Spam on top of the rice.
Push down with a spoon while lifting the mold off.
Wrap the musubi in the center with a piece of nori.
Tuck in the ends on the bottom of the musubi

Now you have a single serving version!

To make the "Sandwich"version.
You will need a mold:
Line the mold with a whole piece of nori
Spread 1/2 cup of rice on the bottom of the mold
Pack down with a spoon.
Place 2 pieces of Spam on top of the rice, sprinkle with Furikake if you like

Top with 1/2 of rice, spread evenly and press down.
Fold in the edges of the nori.
Use the press to pack the roll together.
Lift the mold off gentle
It will be a long block

Slice diagonally into 4 pieces.

Other ideas:
I have a set of small mold. I sliced each spam pieces in 3, trim the nori down and make party bite size version. It's a lot of work, but it's very cute!

Note: Please do not refrigerate the musubi, it will be come hard. Keep in warm if you like.



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