Chicken and Spam Musubi

I've had intentions to blog about musubi for some time now so here we are.

Actually, I got to it way back in September when I was working on content (see below) for a contest, which I sadly didn't win. But, that's okay because I am now able to share these recipes. 

So, we're going to take a little break from pumpkin, cranberry, apples and more pumpkin and more apples for a little trip to Hawaii.

I never knew of musubi's existence and specifically Spam Musubi until I moved to Hawaii and was attracted to the illustrations on this bag. Not only that but they are pretty much everywhere—at every corner ABC store, Foodland, food court, potluck, party and picnic lunch. Spam Musubi is a local staple there and here on the Mainland, people usually fall in the category of: 

  1. Have heard of it and love it
  2. Are turned off by the word SPAM 
  3. Have not heard of it but are willing to try it. 

Kudos to you if you land in category 3. 

Once, I was in category 3 but have now turned into a bona fide category 1. Now, it's either sharing them with people who love them and are feeling nostalgic about Hawaii or it's trying to to convince people that Spam Musubi is like sushi but with cooked meat and that a little bit of Spam won't kill you if you eat it. If you are in the latter group who is wary of the color, shape and texture of Spam, I've also made a variation with chicken which is actually a pretty good spam substitute. 

Spam Musubi have certain components that are key to them having the correct taste. 

  1. Rice // The rice must be of the short or medium grain variety, like Calrose Rice. It must also be seasoned properly, like sushi rice, with rice vinegar, sugar and salt.
  2. Sauce // It would be silly to make a Spam Musubi without any sauce. The sauce gets soaked in the rice and the spam and is reminiscent of teriyaki sauce and its sweet and salty flavor. 
  3. Meat // Spam is the most traditional but chicken also works.
  4. Nori // The seaweed that is used to wrap the whole musubi together. Cut the sheet vertically, not horizontally. 
  5. Seasonings (optional) // Furikake is Kristen's flair to musubi and I have come to enjoy the flavor and texture that it adds to the overall package.

The musubi mold is also pretty key to shaping them. I have this one but have also seen small plastic containers being used instead. 

Most musubi are generally formed with just rice on the bottom and Spam on top but I have found that doing it this way allows for a more even distribution of rice to meat. Whichever way you decide to shape them, they are best eaten fresh while the nori still has a bit of crunch, the rice is still chewy and the spam (or chicken) is still moist.

They are really little bundles of joy!

And let's not forget Frank De Lima's Spam Musubi Song as a nudge of encouragement. 


Chicken and Spam Musubi

Yields: 10 musubi 

Notes

The measurements for the rice seasonings can be adjusted to taste. ie add more sugar, rice vinegar or salt as you see fit but the flavor does improve as the it sits.

It is important to let the rice and Spam or chicken cool down before pressing into musubi. If not, the nori will soften too quickly. 

Cutting Spam into 10 even pieces is tricksy but this helps a lot! 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups short grain (Calrose) rice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 chicken thighs or 1 can of Spam cut into 10 pieces
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sake (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 whole sushi nori sheets, vertically cut into 10 pieces
  • ¼ cup furikake (optional)
  • Musubi press 
  • 1 bowl of water

Steps

Wash rice thoroughly in cold water until the water is clear, about 3-5 washings. Cook rice in a pot or rice cooker. Once finished, mix in sugar, rice vinegar and salt until thoroughly combined. Set aside to cool. 

Spam Version

Cut Spam into 10 pieces. 

Heat soy sauce, sake and sugar in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add Spam to the soy sauce mixture and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove spam onto a plate to cool. 

Chicken Version

Wash chicken thighs and pound into a ½-inch thickness. Cut into 10 pieces, approximately 2 inches wide. Set aside.

Heat soy sauce, sake and sugar in a large sauté pan on medium heat. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add the chicken to the soy sauce mixture and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken onto a plate to cool. 

Once both the rice and chicken or Spam have cooled to a warm temperature, start assembling the musubis. Place a strip of nori vertically in front of you and the musubi mold horizontally on top and in the middle. Scoop a ¼ cup of rice into the mold. Using the bowl of water, wet the top of the mold and firmly press it on top of the rice. Sprinkle furikake as desired, add a piece of chicken or Spam and more furikake. Scoop another ¼ cup rice into the mold and repeat the process of pressing the rice. This time, use both hands to press the musubi and top all the way through to remove the center part of the mold. Fold the nori over on both sides. Cut in half as desired or eat whole. Best eaten immediately or within a few hours of making. 

Leftover musubi can be wrapped tightly in saran wrap and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds to reheat.