Pork Musubi (Okinawan Rice Ball)




About: My name is Christa. I'm interested in history so I'm a Rennie. I've been sewing since I was little and was introduced to cosplay and conventions by some friends of mine in college. I love art and music and l...

We were lucky enough to live in Okinawa for a few years and these were always one of my go-to's for lunch if we were in a hurry. Okinawan style rice balls, or pork musubi, use fried spam, tamagoyaki (Japanese savory fried egg) and Japanese short grain rice wrapped in nori seaweed. They can be the traditional mainland shape of a triangle (as they are often sold in convenience stores) but the Okinawans traditionally make them in a rectangle sandwich shape.

Spam is used in a surprising amount of Okinawan cooking, such as musubi and champuru. This is a holdover from after the Battle of Okinawa and the following occupation of the island. Many of the US GIs had spam with them as an easy thing to transport that doesn't spoil quickly and shared it with the locals who survived and it became incorporated into many traditional dishes.

Step 1: What You'll Need

A cutting board


Wire cheese cutter (optional)

A rice cooker

Rice paddle (or fork)

Plastic cling wrap

Tamagoyaki pan


Paper towels

Vegetable oil--------------------------------------1 tbsp---------15mL

Japanese short grain rice---------------------3-4 cups-------600-800 grams

Sake------------------------------------------------4 tbsps---------60mL

Mirin------------------------------------------------4 tbsps---------60mL

Soy Sauce----------------------------------------4 tbsps---------60mL

Spam-----------------------------------------------two cans

Nori sheets---------------------------------------one package

Eggs-----------------------------------------------one dozen

Step 2: Rice

For Japanese dishes you're going to want to use Japanese short grain rice. It sticks together properly and has a slightly sweet flavor that compliments the dishes well. (Long grain isn't gonna cut it here.) Everyone has their favorite brands. We usually use Nishiki but the easiest one to find in US supermarkets is probably Calrose. (Be careful though, we used to get Calrose until we got two bags in a row infested with bugs, yuck!)

Measure out your cups of rice and put them in the bowl. Wash the rice and then put the designated amount of water for the amount of rice you chose to use. Most rice cookers will have it marked on the side like the one in the picture, but if it doesn't just follow the directions on the bag. You don't want too much water because it will turn into gruel, and too little water will burn the bottom into a solid block and the rice will be crunchy. So be sure to follow the directions on the amount of water and cooking time.

When either your timer goes off or your rice cooker starts playing music it's done! You're going to need to fluff the rice because it's packed in the bowl/pot tightly. But this takes some finesse to do it well, you don't want to crush the rice grains and turn them into mush.

Insert the rice paddle or fork into the side of the rice and scoop under. As you pull it back up turn and flip. Continue this motion around the bowl/pot one or two times until all the rice has been fluffed.

Step 3: Spam

The spam is the easiest part of this. The only part that can be annoying is trying to get the spam out of the can without tearing it to pieces. For this I stab a hole in the bottom of the can with the knife and blow (this creates an air pocket behind the meat and forces it out from behind).

You're going to want to make sure your slices are fairly even. If you have a steady hand go ahead and cut it into slices as thick as you choose. If you don't, like me, you can use a wire cheese cutter. Just pull down then out. It'll leave a slice on the bottom as thick as the others when you cut it all away.

Toss them in the pan and fry them on high for two or three minutes on each side, until they're a little brown like the photo.

Step 4: Tamagoyaki - Mix

There are three types of Japanese rolled omelette recipes; salty, savory and sweet. For this recipe I use the sweet one because it is my husband's favorite and the one we encountered the most often, but you could use whichever you like. The sweetness comes from the mirin, or heavily sweetened rice wine, but professional Japanese chefs recommend if you can't get mirin never to try and sweeten sake yourself. The rule of thumb is to use sugar alone as a substitute, 1 tsp for 1 tbsp of mirin. This is also the recipe used for egg sushi, it is just cooked and served differently.

Beat the eggs well and blend in the mirin, soy sauce, and sake.

Step 5: Tamagoyaki - Prep the Pan

Put the vegetable oil on the paper towel and wipe down the inside of the tamagoyaki pan. You just need a thin layer, you don't want too much oil in the pan because it'll make the eggs a weird texture.

Step 6: Tamagoyaki - Cook and Flip

Over low heat, add 1/4 of the egg mixture and let it spread evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Let the egg cook almost all the way through, it will appear like there's a film on the top. Then take your spatula and carefully flip it over. (You can see what happens if you're not careful in the last photo.). Let it cook for another couple of minutes and then use the spatula to cut it into six rectangular pieces. Set aside on a plate for later use.

Step 7: Assembly

The nori usually comes folded in half. Make sure your hands are dry when you're working with it, if you get it wet it will start to disentigrate. Cut them in half again so the width is about the same width as a slice of spam.

Cover the cutting board with a sheet of cling wrap. Set a piece of nori on the plastic and put one scoop of rice at the end. Gently press it into a rectangular shape and add a slice of spam, then a slice of tamagoyaki. Add another scoop of rice on top.

Slightly dampen your hands and wrap the nori around the filling tightly. Wrap the cling wrap around it tightly as if you are wrapping a burrito.

Step 8: Eating or Storing

You can store musubi in the refridgerator for a couple of days. After that it's still good for another couple of days but the rice will be a little too dried out to taste good. To eat just heat it in the microwave for a minute and unwrap.



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    11 Discussions

    SwansongStephen LEE

    Reply 2 years ago

    I haven't tried Kimbap before but it looks good! I want to try some :)

    Stephen LEESwansong

    Reply 2 years ago

    Kimbap is quite same as the sushi roll.
    Kimbap is really common in South Korea.


    2 years ago

    I miss those things. I remember passing my bills at Lawson and getting one of these or the many other delicious treats they had.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    I heard they plan to open up a Lawsons in CA! Hopefully it does well so they can branch out. :)


    2 years ago

    That does look good. I do a fair bit of trail running and wonder how these would do as trail food!

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I imagine if you wrapped them in foil or something that would enable them to stay stuck shut, they'd be perfect. Carbs, proteins, salts? Pretty great idea!


    Reply 2 years ago

    Pretty well. :) They're so popular because it's convenient to take them and go when you're busy.