EZ Hawaiian Sushi; Spam Musubi Recipe
Whenever the subject of Spam arrises in my travels, I always get the same reaction from people; EeewwWWW! When I ask them how they had it prepared when they formed their opinion, they almost always say that it was cut up right out of the can, and placed in a sandwich. In which case would be my turn to say EeewwWWW!
All kidding aside, Hawaii is the number one consumer of that rounded-cornered-meat-can we have all come to love and call Spam ("Aaahhhhhh" - the angels sing). Now come on, if one small group of islands can be out-buying the world in Spam, then there must be something to it. If you have any Hawaiian friends, or people that have lived in Hawaii for any number of years, chances are, they already have their favorite recipe.
There are many variations to making Spam musubi, here is just one of my favorites.
- 1 can Spam, many varieties, we use the less salt
- 1 pak Nori (Seaweed sheets), Get sushi style
- 4cups Short grain sushi or sticky rice
- to taste Aloha Shoyu or sub, Your favorite soy sauce
- to taste Dark brown sugar
- 1ea Spam musubi press, Being very careful, you can substitute the press by using the empty can
- Turn Spam on it's side and slice it about 1/4" thick - but no thicker. Continue through until the entire contents is sliced. (In Hawaii, there is actually a product that slices Spam all the same size.) Put into large frying pan at medium heat with a little olive oil. Brown the Spam.
- Turn stove down to medium low, and drizzle aloha shoyu into the frying pan. Lightly sprinkle your brown sugar onto the spam. Turn spam over and repeat. It's fine to let is caramelize.
- Place your musubi press on a slightly damp cutting board. Keep your hands damp so you can handle the sticky rice without sticking so much. Fill 1/3 with rice and press, place spam in press, then fill remaining with rice and press once again - or the traditional way is Spam on top.
- Some people sprinkle a little garlic salt at this point onto the rice. Take contents out of press, and wrap in nori - slightly dampen nori where you want it to overlap so that it will adhere to the nori easily.
- You can individually wrap the musubi in Saran Wrap at this point, and start on the next one until you are finished. A note about nori, you can put a strip of it, or you can do the whole width of the musubi - just be sure not to put too much, or it will be hard to bite through the nori.
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Spam and Hawaii
Did you know that Spam is consumed more in Hawaii than any other state? Spam is kind of special to Hawaii's people, because all manner of ethnic backgrounds eat it. It is as versatile as chicken, but no fooling, it does have a certain taste. It's like bacon, but not quite - it's close to ham, but not really, almost hot dog, but closer to Vienna sausages.
If you think that's confusing, Spam takes to spices so easily, and it morphs into many different flavors. Just frying Spam changes the taste compared to fresh out of the can. It is really, a different animal.
Musubi is a Japanese term for rice ball - which usually has an u'me (pickled plum) inside of it and never, ever in the shape of a ball (bad luck). Now in Hawaii, especially in the early 1900s, there were many diverse cultures and ethnicities. Sugar cane and pineapple were the hot commodities that were being exported to the world. Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Portuguese and many more nationalities were being brought to Hawaii to help with the planting and harvest. In the work camps usually grouped by national, they cooked their usual homeland diet. In the years that followed, and as we all struggled through the mid 1900s, we were all working together to make the best of what we had. The best of family recipes were being traded, ethnic flavors were fused, and before you knew it, it wasn't uncommon for a family to have Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Chinese foods all in the same week. Rice became the main staple for all families, and most everyone could use chopsticks. Spam or Vienna sausage together with rice, became a very quick and easy meal.
Today, we've come a long way, but the tradition of cooking and fusing recipes continue on and the love affair of food is high on the list. If you have ever been able to visit the islands and stop into a drive-in or restaurant, you'll see what I mean when you read the menu.
If you have not had a taste of Spam in years, I urge you to try this recipe, and if you feel a little adventurous, try a few varieties of spices and sauces and you'll see what I mean. Peace. Kawi.
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