Spam, seaweed and sticky rice combine to make one of Hawaii’s most iconic road snacks. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

Spam, seaweed and sticky rice combine to make one of Hawaii’s most iconic road snacks. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)

On the strawberry patch: A salty, satisfying taste of paradise

Spam musubi, Hawaii’s most iconic road snack

By Tressa Dale

For the Peninsula Clarion

The otherworldly call of a peacock woke me on my first morning in Hawaii.

After nearly two years of study and training and grueling tests, my best friend in the universe and I had succeeded and finally arrived in paradise, and we were eager to taste salt water. We had just one day of freedom before we were expected to report in our stifling uniforms to the hole in the ground in which we would work for the next four years, so we skipped breakfast and sprinted to our rental car to find our beach.

Our sponsor told us that the north shore was the perfect first experience so we “hopped on the Kam” and headed north past the rolling pineapple fields, past the tourist towns, to an unmarked pull off to watch the turtles sunning themselves on the beach.

A few hours later we were exhausted, badly sunburned, and ready to indulge in something fruity and full of rum, so we went out to shop and eat.

We ate sushi in an outdoor restaurant, seated on the floor at the low table, surrounded by roaming chickens and the hibiscus-scented breeze. Our first idyllic beach trip ended with windows down, music up, well-practiced harmonies, and an iconic road snack: Spam musubi.

Ingredients:

1 can of Spam

2 cups cooked sticky rice

2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

3 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2-3 sheets nori (seaweed paper)

A few pinches of furikake (or toasted sesame seeds)

Directions:

Cook your sticky rice, season with the rice wine vinegar, and allow to cool just enough to handle comfortably.

While your rice is cooling, slice your Spam. Keep and rinse out the can to use as a mold for the musubi. A standard can of Spam should be cut into 8 slices.

Fry your Spam until both sides are crispy.

Mix your soy sauce and brown sugar and pour over the cooked Spam in the pan. Keep flipping the Spam until the sauce thickens and each piece is well coated and sticky.

Line the empty can with plastic wrap, spoon some rice into the bottom, and press until flat. How much rice is up to you, but I aim for the rice layer to be at least double the thickness of the slice of Spam.

Sprinkle some furikake or sesame seeds on the rice, top with one slice of Spam, and press. Fold the plastic over the top of the Spam and press firmly.

Cut your nori sheet in thirds longways and set one piece in front of you with the short side facing you and the shiny side down.

Unmold your musubi, lay spam side down across the center of the nori, and fold both sides up to wrap around. Use a little water to help the seaweed stick to itself.

Tightly wrap in plastic immediately if you are taking the snack to go (very satisfying hiking food), otherwise just plate and serve.

Over the years the novelty and charm of life in Hawaii wore off for me, and I began to see through my sunset-tinted glasses to the mildewy realities of life in the tropics. Perpetual summer isn’t fun in drill boots, and life without seasons disoriented me.

The tropical time warp took its toll, and by the time my enlistment ended I was so eager to leave I didn’t bother to take one last trip to the north shore, and now I regret it. Someday I will go back and taste that salt water again, but for now, I will just enjoy my snack and let my imagination take me.

Tressa Dale is a U.S. Navy veteran and culinary and pastry school graduate from Anchorage. She currently lives in Nikiski with her husband, 1-year-old son and two black cats.

More in Life

This image shows the cover of Juneau poet Emily Wall’s new book “Breaking Into Air.” The book details a wide array of different birth stories. (Courtesy Photo)
A book is born: Juneau author releases poetry book portraying the many faces of childbirth

It details “the incredible power of women, and their partners”

Lemongrass chicken skewers are best made on a grill, but can be made in the oven. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
On the strawberry patch: Tangling with waves

Lemon grass chicken skewers top off a day in the surf

This photo of Frenchy with a freshly killed black bear was taken on the Kenai Peninsula in the early 1900s. (Photo courtesy of the Viani Family Collection)
Unraveling the story of Frenchy, Part 1

The stories were full of high adventure — whaling, mining, polar bear hunting, extensive travel, and the accumulation of wealth

File
Seeing God’s hand in this grand and glorious creation

The same God of creation is the God that made me and you with the same thoughtfulness of design, purpose and intention

Chewy and sweet the macaroons are done in 30 minutes flat. (Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Sophisticated, simplified

When macarons are too complicated, make these delicious, simple macaroons

Michael S. Lockett / capital city weekly
Gigi Monroe welcomes guests to Glitz at Centennial Hall, a major annual drag event celebrated every Pride Month, on June 18.
Packed houses, back to back: GLITZ a roaring success

Sold-out sets and heavy-hitting headliners

Michael Armstrong / Homer News 
Music lovers dance to Nervis Rex at the KBBI Concert on the Lawn on July 28, 2012, at Karen Hornaday Park in Homer.
Concert on the Lawn returns

COTL line up includes The English Bay Band, a group that played in 1980

Marcia and Mary Alice Grainge pose in 1980 with a pair of caribou antlers they found in 1972. The sisters dug the antlers from deep snow and detached them from a dead caribou. (Photo provided by Marcia Grainge King)
Fortune and misfortune on the Kenai — Part 2

In Kasilof, and on Kachemak Bay, in Seldovia and later in Unga, Petersen worked various jobs before being appointed deputy marshal in 1934

The Western Flyers. (Photo provided)
Seldovia Solstice Fest features 4 days of music, art

The Seldovia Solstice Festival starts at 11 a.m. today, June 16, with a music jam on the Seldovia Bay Ferry

“Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” was published in 2018 by Razorbill and Dutton, imprints of Penguin Random House LLC. (Image via amazon.com)
Off the Shelf: The power of personal voice

“A Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement” provides first-person accounts of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida