Friday, April 30, 2010
Recipe Time! Spam Musubi
Musubi is a staple of the Hawaii brown bag lunch. Over the last 30 years the Spam Musubi has indelibly stamped itself on the local Hawaii menu. They are great snacks, highly mobile, and filling.
Spam Musubi Fo' Real
1 Can of Spam. Has to be the real thing. No substitutes.
1 Pkg. Roasted Nori Sheets (any kine brand is okay)
3 cups white short grain rice (any kine brand is okay)
Cup of water (not for drinking)
Beer (for drinking)
Start by cooking the rice perfectly, seriously, Spam Musubi is basically just rice and meat. Rice usually takes anywhere between 15 to 20 minutes to prepare. In this time you can drink beer, or start prepping your protein.
After your beer, cut the loaf of spam into slices with round corners. If you have square corners after you've cut your first slice you should start over, your Spam is ruined. Heat a frying pan on medium heat and fry slices of spam, do not add oil, you do not want to spoil the delicate flavors of your Spam. As your Spam cooks it will shrink, at this point coat with shoyu, sprinkle sugar over each piece, and flip. Let this sit for a few seconds to carmelize, but not for too long, if you burn your glaze it'll be bitter. Repeat the glaze on the opposite side, remove from pan, and place onto a paper towel. Open a new beer if necessary.
Prepare your station with your sheets of nori, your musubi mold, a cup of water, rice paddle, knife, and a level cutting board. The cup of water is not for drinking, it's to keep your tools wet so they don't stick to your rice. Your beer is for drinking. Fold about a teaspoon of salt into your rice while it's hot, once it cools it will set up and become difficult to mix. You don't have to add this salt, but it'll make your musubi last longer in your lunch bag without refrigeration.
Assembling your musubi doesn't require a college degree (if it did, it would never exist!), lay the mold perpendicularly across your sheet of nori, fill with a layer of rice, lay down the Spam, another layer of rice, and compress. Fold over the ends of the nori and use a little water to seal it shut. Cut in half or fourths and serve.
While I love Spam Musubi, its ingredients exceed my recommended daily allowance for sodium induced flavor subtleties. To make the recipe more sustainable in my daily diet I use a 2 to 1 ratio of short grain brown to white rice. The cup of white works well to give it enough body to hold itself together and make it feel more accepted. Instead of Spam, I use tofu, insert obligatory Trader Joe's joke here.
Wrap your tofu in a clean dish towel and press with something heavy. I use my cast iron pans for about 20-25 minutes. Cut tofu into Spam-esque slices. If you don't have rounded corners on your tofu slices you should make it so. The perfect corner radius is vital to evoke the subtle flavors of Spam. Slicing the tofu also speeds up your marination time.
Marinate tofu in shoyu for about a half hour or longer. Heat a frying pan and fry tofu in your choice of oil. I recommend bacon fat or left-over Spam drippings if you have them (I didn't say this was vegetarian). Create the same shoyu sugar glaze as described above with your tofu slices. Assemble as usual or with options.
You can add a number of things to modify your musubi:
Thinly Fried Scrambled Eggs
Spam musubi is a great way to pack a lunch or take with you on a flight, I'd take a Spam musubi over an iPod in my bag any day.
Update: There's some pretty hilarious commentary on BoingBoing about Spam Musubi. Who would have thought this simple favorite could be so polarizing. Thanks Pesco!