Food - Drink
The WWII Roots Of Spam Musubi
By WENDY LEIGH
Spam hit American shelves in 1936, and while the affordable canned meat became a staple during the Great Depression, it gained an even bigger place in American history during World War II. This convenient protein product fed many U.S. troops, and eventually made its way to Hawaii, the birthplace of the enduring and beloved Spam musubi.
Spam arrived in the Hawaiian Islands due to strong military presence before and after the events of Pearl Harbor. TIME notes that Spam soon became embedded in local communities, and the Japanese-American Barabara Funamura later invented spam musubi, a mashup snack with American, Japanese, and uniquely Hawaiian influences.
Fumanura’s creation consists of grilled Spam slices resting atop a block of rice and wrapped in thin sheets of nori seaweed, a kind of Hawaiian twist on onigiri or rice balls, a Japanese snack of compacted rice rolled around a filling and wrapped in nori. Spam musubi is now a go-to, hand-held convenience food in most Hawaiian towns.
Tasting Table's recipe for Spam Musubi involves stirring rice wine vinegar, white sugar, and salt into cooked rice, then making a sauce with brown sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Fry four slices of Spam for a few minutes on each side, pour the sauce over the slices, form the rice into blocks, layer Spam on top, and wrap the whole thing with a sheet of nori.