Spam Musubi

Spam MusubiSpam Musubi is a ubiquitous snack and lunch food in the Aloha State comprising of a slice of Spam and a slab of rice wrapped together with nori in the form of Japanese omusubi. This creation is Hawaiian and yet curiously Minnesotan. Spam is made by Hormel and Hormel is based in Austin, Minnesota where the first can of Spam was produced in 1937. This low price, convenient, and tasty meat quickly became America’s favorite lunch meat. During World War II it was called into action abroad. It became a standard K-ration for the military who eventually introduced it to Hawaii. Today, residents of Hawaii consume more Spam than anywhere else in the world. To read more, please click here and here.

So, it is no wonder that Spam is easily available here in Minnesota and they come in a variety of flavors. I prefer Spam Lite as it has 50 percent less fat, 25% less sodium, and 33 percent fewer calories. Most kids enjoy Spam, my boys included. When I was a kid growing up in Malaysia, we did not have Spam but we had the Ma Ling brand of luncheon meat from China. My brothers and I liked that stuff too and Mom would cube and add it to fried rice. Now, I buy Spam occasionally as a “treat” for my boys. I also cube and add it to fried rice or a simplified version of Mee Goreng. Then I discovered Spam Musubi and I can understand why this snack is so popular in Hawaii.

Spam Musubi

These compact meat and rice parcels are great for the bento or lunchbox. They may be eaten without utensils and taste just as good at room temperature. They can also be cut to fit nicely in the lunchbox. Add some vege sticks and fruits and lunch is good to go.

Spam Musubi Bento

There is a specific mold for assembling the Spam Musubi as seen here. An empty Spam can may also be used by removing the bottom of the can so that one is left with a kind of tube to mold the rice in. Yet others like me, use an oshizushi (pressed sushi) mold. The techniques also vary. The Spam can be placed on top of the rice cake or sandwiched in between two slabs of rice cakes. I am showing both techniques in the recipe below.

Spam Musubi
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6 servings
  • 3 rice cooker cups or 2¼ cups (450g) short grain rice
  • 2¾ cups (660ml) water
  • 1 tbsp furikake rice mix
  • 1 can Spam Lite, cut into 8 slices
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 to 4 sheets nori, cut into 1-inch strips
  1. Put rice into rice cooker pot and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. This usually takes about 4 to 5 times rinsing and draining the water. Then add water to cover rice and allow it to soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain and add fresh water to the 3-cup mark. Dry the pot and place into rice cooker. Press the cook button and allow rice to cook. When rice is cooked, unplug rice cooker and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Alternatively, rice can be cooked on the stove in a regular pot. After soaking, drain rice and add 2¾ cups (660ml) water into pot. Place on the stove and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and allow rice to cook until all water is absorbed. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and allow it to continue for another 5 minutes. Turn off heat and remove pot from heat source. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. While rice is cooking, pan fry Spam on a non-stick pan until lightly brown. This takes about 3 minutes on each side. Mix soy sauce, mirin, and sugar in a small bowl. Pour mixture onto Spam.
  4. While mixture is bubbling, flip Spam slices so that both sides are coated and soy sauce mixture is absorbed. Remove from pan.
  5. When rice is done, sprinkle furikake onto rice and fluff rice with a pair of chopsticks or moistened rice paddle. Wet or moisten the wooden oshizushi (pressed sushi) mold.
Method 1 (with Spam on the top)
  1. Cut each slice of spam lengthwise into 3 pieces.
  2. Spread about 1½ cups of cooked rice into the base of the mold. Tamp down rice with the lid.
  3. Pressing down with the lid, remove the outer portion of the oshizushi mold. Then remove the lid and slice a thin strip of rice lengthwise from the rice “cake” to match the width of Spam (this step is optional). Slice rice “cake” into 6 pieces.
  4. Place a piece of spam on each of the small pieces of rice cake. Wrap a strip of nori around each slice of rice and spam. Seal by moistening end of nori with a little water. Repeat until all rice and Spam are used up.
Method 2 (with Spam in the center)
  1. Spread about ¾ cup of cooked rice into the base of the mold. Tamp down rice with the lid. Place two slices of cooked Spam onto rice. Spread another ¾ cup of cooked rice onto spam. Tamp down rice with lid.
  2. Pressing down with the lid, remove the outer portion of the oshizushi mold. Then remove the lid and slice into 6 pieces.
  3. Wrap a strip of nori around each slice of rice. Seal by moistening end of nori with a little water. Repeat until all rice and Spam are used up.

I first posted about this in my first week of blogging here and have not made it since until spring break started at the end of March. I packed 6 bentos with the help of my boys for their picnic with some friends.

Spam Musubi Bento lunch for picnic

Included in the bentos were molded eggs and checker pattern apples (Ichimatsu moyou ringo), a lovely addition to the lunchboxes. The Spam Musubi here was made using Method 2 as described in the recipe above.

Checker pattern apples (Ichimatsu moyou ringo)

After the boys left for their picnic, I packed a bento for myself just because. I made another block of Spam Musubi using Method 1 and included two slices of Neapolitan Kasutera that I had made the day before. The plan was to include the cake into the boys’ bentos but because of a change of time for the picnic, I was not able to take pictures of the cake for my post and that won’t do! Oh, the travails of a food blogger… sigh!

Spam Musubi Bento

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎


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  1. says

    OMG Biren, you’re that mom whom other moms want to smack upside the head! You make us PB&J moms look bad! I’ll have to try this for the boy – he loves sushi (I did actually send him with homemade sushi once but… I got smacked upside the head!) :-)

    • Biren says

      You made me laugh out loud! Their lunches are not always like that I assure you. :) This was a treat but two of their friends (girls) who were at the picnic liked it a lot. I was so touched by their note of thanks. It took a lot of time to cut those checker pattern apples but it was totally worth it. I am sure you did not mind getting smacked upside the head. 😉

      • says

        Ahhhh, I get it now. The friends were GIRLS. So all of this was really just you showing off to scare away would-be daughters-in-law, who now are painfully aware of what standards they might be up against. You’re an evil genius. I bow before you, Sensei! 😉

        • Biren says

          *Ominous gong sound* How did you see through my plans? ROFL! I’ve even been elevated to Sensei status in your books! Ruby, you are too kind! *still chuckling* 😀

          Oh NO! Honestly, I never thought of it that way.

  2. says

    Oh Gosh Biren, what an amazing little basket is this! It’s beautiful, you are so skilled! I remember this kind of meat in my childhood.
    Have a lovely week my friend!

  3. says

    Biren those bento boxes are outstanding!! You are so artistic with your plating.. really gorgeous! I think you deserve another Versatile Blogger award so drop by my blog post today and grab one up!! You are simply marvelous! :)

    • Biren says

      Thanks Ramona for your kind comments always. Aww…another award for me? You are so sweet and I am honored. Will be over shortly. :)

  4. says

    OMG! What are you trying to do??! Make us other blogger mums look bad??? This is kitchen artistry and those checkerboard apples make me want to cry! More than a few of these shots are worthy of framing and mounting, seriously! Anway, funny thing is, I saw Aida Mollenkamp (at least I think it was her) ooh-ing and ahh-ing spam musubi just last week! Ok – sorry, I just realised practically every sentence I’ve written has an exclamation mark at the end 😛 but this IS an exclamation point kinda post!! See?!?

    • says

      Denise, did you see my comment above? I unveiled her evil plan. As the mother of teenage boys yourself, you should take note. 😉

      • denise @ singapore shiok says

        Yikes! Ruby – you almost gave me a heart attack! I was expecting to see Biren, not YOU 😉 Sorry love, missed you up there. I get tunnel vision sometimes 😛 But I guess great (and slightly lazy *ahem*) minds think alike, ay? You can bet though, that my boys are not going to see this post here!! And seriously Biren, take a break from being supermum, will you?! What is it with me and exclmation marks today?!

        • Biren says

          Hey, I was snoozing and devising more ways to thwart would be suitors while you ladies are up and about. Maybe I should present Round 2 soon. 😉 Anyway, I was feeling a little woozy after all the smacking in the head I got earlier today because of this post…haha! Not sure if I dare to be supermom again. :)

          Not surprise that Aida was ooh-ahhing about spam musubi. This stuff is really tasty even if that slab of meat isn’t prime cut. We do need a break sometimes. 😉

  5. says

    OMG Biren! So very pretty and so very appetizing and so very healthy looking snacks, dishes, lunches, whatever you called it. They looked TOO good to eat :-D. And all your time and patience in making those checkered appples. Golly gosh!! I called this, Labour of LOVE! You’re an amazing mum, cook and how you spoilt your boys 😀
    BTW, yes, I remembered Ma Ling brand. My mum used to cube these luncheon meat and then stir fry with chopped onions and eggs. We had this with rice and it was great too, but not as healthy and pretty as yours here 😛

    • Biren says

      I normally just cut two or three slices of those checkered apples. Six with a time crunch was a a little challenging. It is worth it though as they look so pretty… :)

      Yes, Ma Ling luncheon meat was a treat wasn’t it? Tasty stuff even if it wasn’t the healthiest. :)

  6. says

    Wow Biren…I wish I had this kind of lunch to bring…I remember the spam musubi when in Maui, my son was crazy about it :)
    Looks awesome the presentation of your bentos!
    Hope you are having a great week :)

  7. says

    I used to have Spam (with egg) with bread for breakfast when I was much much younger. However, since we have told our parents not to eat Spam (or they cal it luncheon meat) anymore, we have also avoided Spam altogether.

  8. says

    Tes, I did eat a lot of spam when I lived in Hawaii. I use it in fried rice too, nice to have on hand in my hurricane box. I haven’t made this in awhile, your mold is beautiful, and I adore your bento box. I didn’t realise it was made in MN. I like the lite version too, nice that i comes so many different ways now.

    • Biren says

      I read that the Hawaiians use spam in many of their dishes. It is delicious in fried rice and my boys enjoy it. Never thought of placing a can or two in the hurricane or tornado box. I must do that too. :) The lite version is the best as there is no oil oozing out when fried. I have not tried the other versions.

  9. says

    My husband just loves Spam, me not so much, but don’t mind making it for him, and when I can find a recipe that maybe I will enjoy as well it is bonus for me. Thanks for the recipe to try. Wish me luck my musubi looks so good.

  10. says

    Terrific post. Really excellent. I haven’t had Spam for years (decades) – long enough ago that I’ve actually forgotten what it tastes like! This looks like a spectacular appetizer. I may have to give this a try. Thanks for extremely detailed, thorough instructions. This looks complicated, but you show that it’s actually pretty straightforward to make. Great post – thanks.

    • Biren says

      It can be a little tedious to make but it is okay once in a while as a treat. I hope you will give it a try.

  11. Andrea says

    What a great idea! My kids had spam for the first time when we went camping and quite liked it. They regularly have bento type lunches and will be extremely happy if it also has spam!

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