Bufalo Spam Musubi

Spam is the island sweetheart of Hawaii.  I would be willing to bet that the residents of Hawaii eat more Spam than the contiguous 48 combined.  One of the treats you can find at nearly every local market, gas station, and convenience store in Hawaii is Spam Musubi.

Musibi, I gather, comes from omusubi (also called onigiri) which is white rice shaped into oval or triangle shapes, packed with pickled and/or salty treats, and wrapped in nori (seaweed).  It is commonplace as a quick snack in Japan.

In Hawaii, they have amalgamated the wonderful snack food onigiri and their love of Spam into Spam Musubi and if you ever make it to the islands, get some.

On a recent trip out there (sorry, if you flew Hawiian Air in December, we had the 7 month old), we grabbed some rice, some nori, some mirin, a can of Spam, and we decided to make our own.  

In Spam Musubi we have already got salty, sweet, and fishy - the addition of one of may favorite hot sauces, Bufalo, rounded out the perfectly flavor storm by adding spicy and smoky.

Bufalo also adds a blast of color, bringing bright red to the porky pink, white of the rice and deep green of the nori.  The mild heat of the Bufalo lingers along with the umami of the nori after the punch of salt from the Spam has long but passed.



  • 1 cup of white rice
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of mirin
  • 1 can of Spam
  • 1 package of nori
  • 1 bottle of Bufalo hot sauce


Cook the rice as you would normally, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, bring back to a boil then turn down to a simmer.  Cook until soft, about 15 minutes.  

Dump the cooked rice into a large bowl and drizzle the mirin over the rice to incorporate it evenly.  Mix well using a wooden spoon or something similar.  Set asside and allow to cool.

Slice the Spam into 1/2 inch thick slices and fry in a pan until they develop come caramel color and a little crispness on both sides, about 4-7 minutes.  

With about 3 tablespoons of rice, form small balls of rice with your hands (don't measure, make them however large or small as you like).  Squirt several drops of Bufalo on the top of each patty of rice.

Place a slice of fried Spam on top of the rice, covering the Bufalo sauce.  Wrap each piece in nori, sealing the nori by wetting your fingers in a small bowl of water and spreading it on the inside of the niro.  Wet nori will stick to itself.

Dip them in extra Bufalo, recipe makes 12-15.

Enjoy hot or cold.  What you don't eat right away, wrap individually in plastic wrap and keep in the fridge for up to a week (who knows how old some of those are at the 7-11 on Kam Haighway in Kahaluu).

Authordavid koch