It could be considered Hawaii’s tastier version of a food bar or peanut butter sandwich: convenient, portable and cheap. The Spam musubi is sold everywhere on the islands. It is common to see people pull one out of a jacket pocket for a quick lunch.

There are a few variations, but the basic musubi is a block of pressed sticky rice topped with a slice of cooked Spam held together with a wrap of nori (the kind of seaweed that holds sushi together). Because the rice is sticky and pressed, the whole thing stays together when eaten by hand, like a giant food bar. Some recipes call for the Spam to be sandwiched between two layers of rice, but the Spam on top version is what I see most commonly. Some people fry the meat, some grill it, some add soy or teriyaki sauce during or just after cooking. Often, furikake (chopped seaweed) is sprinkled in the rice, which looks like little black flakes. Don’t worry – there is nothing wrong with the rice, it is just for added flavor.

Some places sell a Spam musubi with a layer of egg, or a similar musubi with bright red hot dogs on top instead of Spam (split in half so they lay flat). Either way, the musubi are wrapped in clear plastic wrap, which makes them easy to carry. During finals at the cafeteria on campus, there is a giant pile of the little plastic packages in the morning. People grab two or three to eat as they walk across campus, stuffing them in pockets. They’re a dollar each at that time and make for a great quick snack. I’ve also seen people on sail boats take them for a portable meal. And apparently, President Obama ordered a Spam musubi for lunch while golfing on his Hawaii Vacation.

The Spam musubi is also an example of eating like a local to save money on your Hawaii vacation. Both peanut butter and bread are more expensive here than on the mainland. If you try to duplicate your mainland diet while in the islands, you may find food to be expensive. Spam may not be to your liking, but give it a try and then look for a manapua, a bowl of saimin or other local favorite. If you try a few local dishes here and there, you’ll save money while getting a unique taste of Hawaii — and a great story to tell back home.


  1. Aloha Cindy,  I would have to agree with you about the musubi and the variety of ways that I've seen it presented.  I've been in Hawaii for 3 years now, and the musubi is ONE OF MY FAVORITE island foods.  At first, I was hesistant about it, but once I tried it; everything else is history.  I now eat musubi practically on a daily basis.  Of course, my favorite is with the musubi wrapped in soy sauce…..OMG!  The soy sauce, itself, enhances the flavors of the musubi.
    I would have to say that the musubi is my ALL TIME FAVORITE.  Much appreciation for the blog about this delightful little treat. 
    Return the Trust ~Laakea Ocean Wedding

  2. LOL Joey!  I never did care for them but I will eat them if I'm hungry enough LOL.  My kid went through a food phase when he was in preschool where all he would eat were spam musubis, this went on for months so yeah, every morning I would swing by Tesoro on the way to school and grab him one for lunch.

  3. Never have been able to develop a taste for it, guess it's the Haole in me. I ate it for the first time about a year ago and have tried it since but it just tastes awful to me. I don't think many people eat if from the can here in Hawaii mostly just as a ingredient in spam recipes

  4. LOL! We call me 4yr old niece "Musubi" because that's all she eats LOL!!! We also mix it with mac n cheese and call it "poor mans food" bwahahaha!… I used to like a lot as a child but now I'd rather have bacon LOL… I think spam is something every local kid in the islands grow up on and eventually grow out of it (just my thoughts)…

  5. As mentioned, spam musubi is convenient, portable and cheap…my kids would request a spam musubi for their field trip lunches.  I think its tastier w/ the teri sauce.

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