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A Hawaiian Special – Musubi

Hi everyone, my name is Stef and I write a blog called Living HI about healthy living in Hawaii. My interests include running, hiking, kayaking, and cooking with whole ingredients. Jen is having a crazy busy week, so she gave me the opportunity to do a guest post over here on Peanut Butter Runner, thanks Jen!

When I was thinking of a recipe to give you all I wanted to make sure that it was something unique to Hawaii, either in the make up or in the component ingredients. I thought of my favorite produce, like papaya, mango, and avocado, but with today’s global economy most everyone has seen or tasted these fruits. Then I thought of something that is really popular here, but has little fame elsewhere, the musubi.

A musubi is kind of like a sushi hand roll, it is essentially a layer each of rice and protein wrapped in nori (seaweed). I hate to tell you, but usually a musubi is composed of white rice, spam, and nori. Please hold your gufaws for one moment because the musubi tells a story about Hawaii.

First you have a major Japanese influence with the nori and rice. The majority of the population here in Hawaii is Asian and you find this influence everywhere, especially within the food culture. The spam also tells a story about the history of Hawaii. After Hawaii was bombed by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor, food was rationed and ships coming in from the mainland U.S. were few and far between. Because of these circumstances people depended on canned foods like spam, Vienna sausage, and condensed milk for sustenance. Those people that grew up in the 1940’s developed an affinity for these foods, so they fed them to their children, who fed them to their children, and so on, so the popularity of spam continues to this day.

Of course I wouldn’t suggest that anyone eat spam, so I changed up the recipe to make it healthier and more appealing. Instead of spam, there is baked and marinated tofu, so these musubi are vegan. Instead of all white rice there is half brown and half white, we call it hapa rice, hapa means mixed in Hawaiian. You wouldn’t want to go all brown, because it does not bind as well as white rice does. Musubi are a great food to pack and go, and will sustain you through a hard day playing at the beach or going for a hike.

What you need:
–  1 cup brown rice
–  1 cup white rice
–  Japanese style sushi nori, cut into 1 1/2 inch strips
–  1 block of firm tofu

For the tofu marinade:
–  2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce)
–  2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

1)  Drain your tofu and cut it into 1/4 inch thick pieces
2)  Mix together the marinade and pour it over the slices of tofu
3)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
4)  Cook the rice (I like to use a rice cooker, but you can do it on the stove top)
5)  After the tofu has marinated for about 30 minutes, put it on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through
6)  Assemble your workplace, you should have tofu, cooked rice, nori, a small bowl of water, and a sushi press

1)  Place nori strip on a flat surface, place sushi press on top of nori
2)  Fill press with rice, and compress. Rice should fill half of the press.

3)  Remove press and set aside.
4)  Place a piece of tofu on top of the rice

5)  Fold one side of the nori strip over the top of the tofu
6)  Lightly wet the end of the unfolded part of the strip with a little water

7)  Fold the other side of the strip over, and smooth the nori together

Now you’re ready to pack up your musubi and hit the trails or head to the beach! Thanks for reading!


Thank you Stef for the guest post! I think this recipe looks like so much fun. Brandon and I have made homemade sushi a couple times and it’s always a fun joint kitchen project (this recipe reminds me of that!). Have you ever attempted homemade sushi? This recipe is especially appealing for those who don’t want to do raw fish at home!

And question #2…have you ever tried spam!? I have not!!! (I would take a bite, if offered…just one!)

p.s. Be sure to check out Stef’s blog and let’s all take one moment to be jealous of her beautiful surroundings! 😉

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Anne August 18, 2011, 12:15 am

    The Musubi looks amazing! I’ve seen this made on Food Network Asia (we live in China), but never attempted to make it on my own, so I’ll have to give it try soon!

  • Danielle August 18, 2011, 12:31 am

    This looks very cool! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  • Pam Leverette August 18, 2011, 7:22 am

    This looks wonderful! I’ve been wanting to try tofu. Do I need a tofu press? Jen, I am so excited for you and the positive energy you project! Continue to inspire and challenge.

    • Stef August 18, 2011, 12:34 pm

      Pam, you do not need a tofu press, you could mold the rice with your hands!

  • Emily Zimmerman August 18, 2011, 8:19 am

    Love this post! I’m a huge fan of musubi; it brings me back to my childhood! Musubi is actually rice covered with seaweed. It is up to the person making it what goes inside. When I was a child, my mother would fill it with salmon, tuna or an umeboshi (salted plum).

    PS. I’ve had the Spam musubi in Hawaii and it’s actually not bad. 🙂

  • Kamaile August 18, 2011, 10:41 am

    My Mom was born and raised on Kauai so spam was ALWAYS in our house! I love this vegan version of musubi! 🙂

  • Brandon August 18, 2011, 11:23 am

    All in favor of Jen making both the vegan and spam versions of this for a review, say I. I…

    -PBR’s hungry husband

    Looks tasty Stef.

    • Stef August 18, 2011, 12:35 pm

      Thanks Brandon. Maybe you could do a taste test/comparison? I’ve also seen musubi with hot dog, a fried egg, and chicken. So many possibilities!

  • Alaina August 18, 2011, 11:51 am

    Ooh, I love this recipe! Looks delicious. I’ve never attempted homemade sushi but I’ve seen friends who have. It looks like cutting sushi is always the hardest part!

    I haven’t had Spam in ages! Never really caught on to the taste.

  • CarliCraves August 18, 2011, 11:55 am

    This looks so good!!! I used Bragg’s last night in a stirfy I made, it is one of my all time favorite ingredietns. Thanks for the post…I am a big fan on PBR amd will check out yours too!!

    Here was my dinner…

    • Stef August 18, 2011, 12:36 pm

      Thank you Carli, I too love Braggs! It makes its way into most things I cook.

  • Yin August 18, 2011, 12:27 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I never thought of tofu for this since I usually see spam. Definitely something I will try in the future 🙂

  • Holly @ Pink Runner August 18, 2011, 12:37 pm

    mmm this looks good! I’d love to try it with tempeh because I like it so much now!

    • Jen August 18, 2011, 2:03 pm

      oh….that sounds like a great idea! i’m sure the marinade would be awesome on tempeh too!

  • Karen Beth August 18, 2011, 3:33 pm

    I’ve never heard of this but it looks SO good! I recently got a TofuXpress and it will be perfect to make these with. I can’t wait!

  • natalie (the sweets life) August 18, 2011, 4:00 pm

    I love sushi so I’m betting I’d love this too! So interesting-thanks for sharing something new and unique 🙂

  • Jenn P. August 30, 2013, 7:23 pm

    Do you know how long these would keep? I was thinking of making these for a backpacking trip because my other friends suggested spam musubi but I am vegetarian.

    • Jen August 31, 2013, 7:00 pm

      i have no idea! this was a guest post and i have never made the recipe 🙁

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