Vegetarian Spam and musubi

musubiThe inauguration is this weekend— and what better way to celebrate than by making a vegan version of a quirky local food from the island where the president grew up? *

For those who’ve spent time in Hawai’i, you’ve likely noticed that Spam, that weird, over-processed canned meat, is super popular there. (Thanks, in part, to World War II.)  Almost as popular is musubi, the fascinating hybrid of Japanese sushi and Hawaiian love of Spam.

Humans are so interesting.

For a while, I wondered why, with all the meat alternative products out there, there was no veggie Spam. I mean, there’s soy hot dogs, chicken nuggets and ribs. Why not the Hormel product?

Well, copyright issues, likely. But after seeing that someone had made a vegan recipe for Spam, I decided to try my own.

Because I think my blender would break if I tried to pulverize anything, I used tofu instead of dried soybeans. Also, the last time I had Spam was as a child camping, and all I remember was how soft, strange  and salty the “meat” was.

So here it is: another version of vegetarian Spam. The potato starch is actually part of the original recipe for Spam. And between the tomato juice and the beet juice, the color is disquietingly like the original.    Vegetarian spam


½ block tofu

½ cup tomato juice

½ cup water chestnuts

1/3 potato starch

1 tsp nutritional yeast

½ tsp liquid smoke

½ tsp sea salt

2-3 tsp beet juice (for color)


1. Crumble up the tofu, and add it to all the other ingredients in a blender. My “aerate” setting worked best. When you’re finished, it should be a like a paste.

Now, what to do with this stuff?frying spam

Fry it in some tasty marinade, that’s what. Here’s what’s in it:

1 clove of garlic

1 tsp fresh ginger

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 brown sugar

I pressed both the ginger and the garlic through my garlic press, then mixed up the other ingredients. I cooked the Spam directly in the marinade.rice balls

For instructions on how to assemble your veggie Spam into proper musubi, please see I Eat Food’s wonderful tour.

While I still have plenty of veggie Spam left over, I almost hate to admit how much I enjoy it with rice for breakfast. (Cue the Monty Python song…)breakfast spam

*(Well, there’s reading about politics— but that’s for a different blog.)

2 thoughts on “Vegetarian Spam and musubi

Add yours

  1. Looking forward to trying this recipe, but need one crucial detail.
    How much potato Starch? You say “1/3,” but 1/3 cup? tablespoon?

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