Golden Week in Okinawa pt. 5: Spam Musubi!

The Lost Blogs #28

Travel Dates: Sat, April 28, 2012 – Thu, May 3, 2012

Conbini Breakfast

Our hotel plan came with free breakfast daily, which to be honest, was okay but it’s not like we wanted to eat the same eggs, ham, and toast everyday. (Or, in my husband’s case, the same grilled fish, rice, miso soup, and natto. He really enjoyed Japanese breakfast buffets.)

Since we wanted to get an early start, we usually just picked up food at the nearby conbini (convenience store) and picked up pastries, like the above fluffy cheese bread and cranberry scone. The convenience stores are pretty much the same as on mainland Japan and carry the usual fare, but we were excited to see this addition in their fresh foods section:

Spam Musubi for breakfast!

Spam Musubi! Spam musubi is a popular snack/lunch food in Hawaii, and is very similar to the Japanese onigiri (rice ball). It’s made by topping rice with a slice of grilled spam marinated in oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar, and wrapping it in nori (dried seaweed). It’s actually one of my favorite snack foods!

Hawaiians refer to the dish as “musubi”, which comes from the Japanese word musubu (結び) meaning “to tie; to bind; to link”, because it “ties” the spam and rice together with the seaweed. But in Japan, they actually just refer to it as a “Pork Egg Series” (ポーク玉子シリーズ) of onigiri. So because it’s made with egg, the taste of Japanese musubi differs a little bit from the musubi of the Hawaiian islands.

Spam Musubi in Okinawan Conbini

Like Hawaiian musubi, “pork tamago onigiri” comes in a variety of flavors. In Hawaii, some popular variations include chicken katsu and Portugese sausage. Here are just a few types of Pork Tamago Onigiri which we found available in Okinawa:

  • Abura Miso (ポーク玉子油みそ), or “Fatty Miso” flavor. This is the “standard” or basic flavor that most shops carry, and is the most similar to the Hawaiian spam musubi. The Hawaiians use a marinade of oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sugar. Instead, Okinawans make “abura miso”, which is basically miso paste flavored with pork fat. It’s made by mixing miso paste, sugar, and sanmai niku (pork belly).
  • Sea Chicken Mayonnaise (ポーク玉子シーチキンマヨネーズ), or “Tuna Mayo” flavor. This one comes with spam, egg, and a layer of tuna salad wrapped in rice and seaweed.
  • Juicy Cheese Croquette (ジューシーチーズコロッケ). I don’t know why it’s still part of the “pork egg series” because there is neither pork nor egg in this one. Instead, a piece of “juicy croquette”, tartar sauce, and a slice of cheese are wrapped in rice and seaweed.
  • Hot Chili Chicken (ホットチリチキン). Similar to the croquette one, this onigiri comes with a spicy chicken, cheddar cheese, and tartar sauce.
  • Cheese Hamburg (チーズハンバーグ). Instead of spam with abura miso sauce, you get a Hamburg patty marinated in teriyaki sauce and topped with cheese.

COOP in Miyako

Musubi makes for a quick and easy breakfast or snack, and is usually available for around 200-yen at conbini and supermarkets. I found the supermarket ones to be much heftier in size, and more tasty, since they were freshly made on-site. The one above, I picked up at COOP and enjoyed with a tiny can of MIKI rice drink and mugi-cha. Yum, yum, yum…

Next time in the “Golden Week in Okinawa” series: a visit to Churaumi Aquarium!

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4 thoughts on “Golden Week in Okinawa pt. 5: Spam Musubi!

  1. Oh! I loved the spam musubi I had in Okinawa! I didn’t know that there were so many varieties – I’ve had the one with tuna in it. :9 I haven’t seen this available up in mainland, but when I was there, my Filipino friend said it was a traditional breakfast (rice, ham/spam and scrambled eggs) in the Phillipines. Thanks for sharing!

    • “Spam Musubi” all wrapped up isn’t from the Philippines, but rather from Hawaii. But having fried rice, eggs, and meat (tapa – cured beef, tocino – sweetened pork belly, spam, ham, bacon, corned beef) for breakfast is definitely a Filipino thing. :D So good!

      • Oops, forgot to mention that I meant it wasn’t all wrapped up. But maaaaaan, that is an awesome combi! :9 I’m looking forward to reading all about your Okinawan holiday! I went there in August, and had a great time.

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