Spam musubi & an unexpected multitasker

Canned meat (Spam, corned beef, tuna) wasn’t unusual in my house when I was growing up. However, when I was in college and began cooking for myself, I succumbed to food snobbery and eschewed Spam in all its forms.

Fast forward about 17 years, I’m in SoCal visiting family and immersed in this horrific travel experience that involves a looong flight with 3 screaming children (they were 1 and 3 years old at the time), only 1 crib at the hotel despite reserving 2, problems with the car rental, kids constantly wailing, etc; in the middle of this adventure (Matt is swearing we won’t take another family vacation for at least 10 years), my cousin takes us to a Japanese food festival. I hadn’t been to one of these since I was a kid in Chicago. I’m a wreck from the stress, and my cousin takes pity on me and brings me some food so I don’t have to get up.

He hands me a paper bag with a drink and 2 Spam musubi – for those of you unfamiliar, this is a seaweed-wrapped rice ball with a big slab of Spam in the middle – I am starving, so I cram half of one into my mouth at once, and it’s like angels are suddenly humming. OMG, it is so salty and chewy and substantial and carbalicious. It’s hits me like a childhood comfort food, and I feel so unexpectedly happier with this in my tummy.

So naturally, I come home to MN and am craving Spam after not eating it for nearly 2 decades. I browse web sites with musubi recipes, and darn if everyone isn’t using a wire slicer and musubi press. No one makes these freehand? Did they ever? I mail order the equipment via ebay from some Asian grocer in California. (It’s funny, I live not too far from Austin – home of Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam – yet nowhere in MN can I find a wire Spam slicer).

I make mine by pan-frying the slices (low sodium, please – and for the love of god, do not try the turkey Spam, so hard and jerky-like after frying) and patting off the grease with paper towels. I place the musubi mold over a sheet of nori (seaweed), press in the first bit of rice, sprinkle furikake generously (hence the lo-Na Spam), add Spam slices, top with rice, press again, unmold, and wrap with nori. I let it sit for a few minutes for the nori to adhere and then slice with a wet knife.

Shockingly, my kids love musubi. I can’t explain it.

The wire meat slicer takes up a lot of drawer space. I was unhappy about having such a big unitasker and set about finding other ways to make it useful. Once I started thinking about it, though, it wasn’t hard to come up with other ideas.

Serving its original purpose – it makes 9 slices of the exact same width, something I could never do freehand:

Avocado slices for a tacos, salads, or even California rolls:

Chopped eggs for egg salad, much faster than with a knife:


Btw – foolproof hard-boiled egg recipe here.

Sliced strawberries for strawberry shortcake or to top yogurt, cereal, or ice cream:

It would probably work for softer cheese and butter, too, if you like thick slices.

5 thoughts on “Spam musubi & an unexpected multitasker

  1. We’ll vouch for your handmade SPAM musubi. :-) I’d heard of it but kind of pooh-poohed the idea — but it comes out great! Do you recommend a particular variety of furukake?

    When you first mentioned the wire slicer, I thought of one of those egg slicers, though one specifically made for eggs might not have been big enough for a chunk of SPAM. But it sounds like getting a wire slicer has worked out well for you.

  2. Spam musubi–now I’m getting hungry! I was born and raised in Hawaii, so I’m sure I’ve eaten several times my weight in spam musubi in my lifetime.

    I don’t know if anyone ever made spam musubi freehand. I’ve been told that people used to use the can as a mold…

    I didn’t know they made a special slicer for spam–but personally, I need to cut the spam into 10 slices (even if they’re not perfectly even). The mold that’s the same length as a sheet of nori requires 2-1/2 slices of spam, so I need the 10 slices to make it come out evenly.

    BTW, spam musubi makes great airplane food. My mom makes some for us to eat on the plane every time I go home for a visit. If you like spicy food, the hot & spicy spam makes a nice variation.

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