On his recent trip to Hawaii, Barack Obama grabbed a couple of Spam Musubi at a snack bar on the golf course, sending journalists from all over the world rushing madly to Wikipedia to learn just what the heck he was eating.
But Hawaiians have long enjoyed this tasty, if somewhat improbable, snack food. It consists of sliced Spam (usually pan-fried; sometimes broiled or grilled), cooked rice (plain or dressed with sushi vinegar), and sushi nori.
Other ingredients can include furikake, tamago, or oyster sauce.
Shapes can vary, too. Most often, it resembles a giant piece of nigiri sushi, with a full slice of fried Spam on top of an outsized oval of rice, held together with a strip of nori. Maki-style Spam rolls are a common variation, but there are many creative possibilities.
Here, the basic ingredients are joined by other Hawaiian flavors in a whimsical take on a multi-layered musubi ‘terrine’ that you can serve as an appetizer or snack.
I’ve also included a variation for a back-rolled “Obamakizushi” that would be a fun party bite.
Here’s a photo of the Pineapple Macadamia Spam Musubi below.
2 cups medium-grain white rice
3-1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 can Spam, cut into 8 slices
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce (or 1-1/2 Tbsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp sugar)
1/3 cup sushi vinegar (or 1/3 cup rice vinegar with 1 Tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt)
2 sheets sushi nori
1/4 cup minced scallion (green parts) or chives
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 Tbsp finely crushed macadamia nuts (mixed with the sesame for easier sprinkling)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
Thoroughly rinse the rice and place in a saucepan with the water and the salt. Bring to a boil, stir, cover, reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 - 17 minutes or until water is absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, brush the spam slices with the teriyaki or soy sauce and broil until lightly colored.
When the rice is done, fluff with a fork or wooden spoon to release the steam. Spread on a platter and drizzle the sushi vinegar on the rice a tablespoon at a time, gently mixing it in.
Line a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving plenty of overlap on the sides. Take one sheet of the nori and lay it evenly across the bottom and up the two long sides of the loaf pan.
Divide the rice into fourths, and spread one-fourth in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the scallions, sesame seeds, and crushed macadamias onto the rice; spread another one-fourth of the rice on top. Create additional layers in the following order: 4 slices of Spam; rice; pineapple; Spam; rice. Press down evenly with a spatula to level.
Fold any extra nori from the sides of the pan onto the rice. Trim the remaining nori sheet to fit into the pan. Fold the extra plastic wrap over the nori and press down evenly with another loaf pan, block of wood, etc. to firm up the layers.
Allow to rest for 15 - 20 minutes before unmolding. Unwrap and slice using a wet knife. You can serve slices whole (like a terrine) or insert four evenly-spaced decorative toothpicks into the top of a slice and cut down between them, making four appetizer/snack portions out of each slice.
Obamakizushi Variation: (uses 4 nori sheets and additional sesame seeds):
After broiling, slice the spam into strips.
Spread 1/4 of the rice evenly on a nori sheet; sprinkle with 1/4 of the scallions and 1/4 of the sesame seed/macadamia mix (use additional seeds if desired); flip nori over and fill with spam strips (about 6) and 1/4 of the pineapple.
Use a plastic wrapped bamboo mat to back roll.
(See http://www.diy-sushi-recipes.com/sushi-roll.html or http://video.about.com/japanesefood/Sushi-Video.htm for how-to videos).
Let rest briefly before slicing.
Please join us tomorrow to read our new article, A Roundup of Sweet Recipes to Bring in the Chinese New Year. January 26th is the start of the Chinese Year of the Ox.
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