This Vegan Tofu “Spam” Musubi will satisfy your spam craving if like me, you grew up eating it. To this day, I don’t know what spam is really made of (nor do I want to), but I will confess I ate it ALL the time as a kid. I’m part Japanese and also part Korean, so I grew up with a lot of spam around me. It’s a canned block of highly processed, mushy mystery meat like hot dogs or bologna, low in nutrients and loaded with not-so-great for you ingredients. We’re not a big fan of processed foods/ingredients that pose a health risk and we keep it meat-free around here, so I’ve got you with this veganized version!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering what spam musubi is, it’s a snack commonly found in Hawaii popularized by Japanese Americans. O-mosubi (おむすび) is a rice ball, typically wrapped in a strip of seaweed and either stuffed with a filling of choice, or topped with something. In this case, spam! The spam is usually sliced, grilled and then glazed in a teriyaki sauce, often served with an extra brush of sauce to top. It’s flavour packed, and the rice balances out the saltiness.
Childhood favourites are hard to let go of, so since going vegan, I’ve thought about ways to veganize this dish. I landed on tofu, because the texture is somewhat similar, and the shape is easily turn-into-spam-shape-able. I don’t think anything will ever compare to the sodium and umami bomb that is spam, but this is the closest I’ve gotten while keeping healthy, and gluten-free too.
To make the Vegan Tofu “Spam” Musubi, we’re using tofu of course, short grain white rice, lots of seasoning ingredients and nori.
This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, oil free and refined sugar free, but full of flavour.
While traditional teriyaki sauce is often not gluten-free, this sauce is made sans gluten and can be used for stir-fries, noodles and other plant proteins. If you have leftover, feel free to brush on top of your musubi for extra flavour.
Musubi makes for a great on the go snack, or packed lunch. If you want to make in advance, I recommend making day of so the rice texture stays in tact.
secrets to success
The trick to making this recipe work is to nail the tofu. The bulk of the recipe focuses on getting the texture and flavour right, so give your tofu time to marinate in the seasonings, and if you have a tofu press, I highly recommend one! I’ll provide an alternative option in the recipe as well.
Speaking of tofu, make sure you’re using an extra firm block of tofu, not silken. It should be hard to the touch, and shouldn’t fall apart when you’re working with it. This is important for texture, and shape.
Now for the sauce I’m using tamari as a soy sauce alternative, but if you prefer liquid aminos or coconut aminos, feel free. And, of course, if you’re not allergic to gluten, feel free to use conventional soy sauce. I also use liquid smoke, but if you’d prefer not to, you can feel free to omit. And finally, if you’d rather use a store-bought teriyaki sauce to marinate, by all means!
Slice tofu into spam sized pieces. I started by cutting the block of tofu in half (to create two wider blocks, not longer blocks, if that makes sense!). Press the tofu using a tofu press, or allowing to sit, sandwiched between paper towels and a heavy book on top for pressure. Press for about 20-30 minutes, or longer if possible! This allows for better texture and more water to be released.
Once tofu is pressed, slice into pieces about an inch thick, and shape rectangles into spam shape, roughly 2 inches by 4 inches and round off the corners if desired.
Prepare the teriyaki sauce by whisking together all sauce ingredients and allow tofu to marinate in the sauce. Again, the longer the better, for maximum flavour absorption! I recommend at least 30 minutes to an hour, but if you’d like to, you can also let sit in the fridge overnight.
When tofu is ready, you can choose to pan fry tofu with any remaining sauce, until golden brown, and all the sauce is absorbed. Otherwise, you can bake at 375F in the oven on a nonstick baking mat for about 10 minutes on each side, brushing with leftover marinade as you flip.
Prepare nori strips by cutting into strips about 2 inches wide, and prepare rice by tossing in a large bowl with sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. Use a spatula to toss, being careful not to break the rice grains or mush the rice.
To assemble, take about 1/2-2/3 cup of rice and using your hands, press together firmly with moist hands to form an oval shape. You can also use a form/mold to do this. This will be your rice ball base! Top with a slice of tofu, and wrap with a nori strip. To finish, brush with any remaining sauce.
*I recommend preparing in a rice cooker for best results
Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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