Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi
5 from 1 vote
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Food Stories is a new column in which Best of Vegan community members share recipes from their cultures and personal stories connected to those dishes. Today, Marissa Wong of It’s All Good Vegan shares her recipe for Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi, a favorite childhood snack turned plant-based.

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

Vegan Tofu Musubi! Yes, I veganized one of my childhood recipes. This Musubi is layered with rice, marinated tofu, and wrapped up in nori. If you know anything about me, you know that I grew up in Hawaii so Spam musubi was a popular meal for my family. My mom used to make them for me before hula when we went to the beach and pretty much any other activity I can think of. That’s what makes these so great! They’re quick, easy, and will satisfy any appetite. This has definitely been one of the foods I’ve missed since switching to a plant-based diet, but not anymore!

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

A Little History of Spam Musubi

Hawaii has one of the highest Spam consumptions in the entire world. Dating all the way back to the late 1930s, Spam has been on Hawaii’s grocery shelves for a very long time. But it wasn’t until WWII when soldiers and people in the Japanese incarceration camps were fed this “spiced ham” meat on a regular basis that consumption really took off. According to Time magazine, it was also during this time that Japanese American Barbara Funamura created the popular Spam musubi-style recipe. You might be surprised to know that you can order spam at Hawaii’s Mcdonalds and there’s even an annual Spam Jam Food Festival! So it goes without saying that if you’ve spent any time in Hawaii you’ve tried Spam in some shape or form.

This was no different for me growing up in Hawaii. My family loved eating Spam, especially my Dad. I still remember eating spam musubis before hula class. I think my parents liked how quick and easy this meal can be. This food has always had a nostalgic feel for me and brings back a lot of memories, so that’s why I decided to make a plant-based option!

Tofu in marinade

Marinade

There are tons of different variations of marinades but the most popular one is similar to a teriyaki sauce. The traditional marinade contains sugar. Although I love the sauce I wanted to create a version with less sugar, so I used maple syrup instead. 

Spam is traditionally really salty. So to get that bold flavor I marinated my tofu for 10 minutes on each side. If you are looking for a more flavorful tofu I recommend doubling the marinade time to 15 minutes on each side. Keep in mind, the longer you marinate the tofu in the sauce, the saltier it will be.

Frying tofu

After you have marinated your tofu you are going to fry the tofu on each side until slightly crispy. I highly recommend using a non-stick pan to do this, this will prevent the tofu from sticking to the pan and tearing.

To assemble Tofu Musubi I used a musubi press. I used my mom’s press which she has had for 20 years. You can find them at your store depending on where you live or order one online.

Musubi assembly

Assembly

STEP 1: Layout a piece of nori horizontally with the shiny side down. 

STEP 2: Place the musubi mold down in the middle of nori. Add ⅓ cup leftover rice or cooled cooked rice evenly in the mold. If you use hot rice the nori will get soft after you assemble it. Press the rice down using the flat part of the mold making an even pressed layer of rice. Really press down, this will make sure the rice stays together. 

STEP 3: Add the cooked tofu on top of the rice and remove the mold by pulling the mold up.

STEP 4: Wrap the nori around the rice and tofu. The nori should stick together, but if it doesn’t you can add a drop of water to seal it together. 

I grew up wrapping each Tofu Musubi up individually. However, you can also store them together in a large airtight container. Just make sure not to allow too much air in the container because it will make the rice hard.

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

Ingredient Swaps

Here are some ingredients that you can swap out with what you already have in your pantry. 

You can also easily make this recipe gluten-free by substituting specific ingredients as well. Just make sure to double-check the back of the labels to make sure they do not include wheat.

RICE: I used white rice for this recipe. This is my personal favorite choice because this is how I ate it growing up. You can also use jasmine or brown rice. 

SOY SAUCE: If you are gluten-free you can either use gluten-free soy sauce or gluten-free tamari

MAPLE SYRUP: I prefer using maple syrup but if you do not have that I recommend using sugar instead. If you use sugar just make sure to really mix it well until it absorbs into the soy sauce

GARLIC: Swap garlic for garlic powder. If you are using fresh garlic, make sure to really chop up the pieces really small so when you eat the tofu you don’t get large amounts of garlic. 

ONION POWDER: If you do not have onion powder you can leave this out. I personally like to add it for some extra flavor.

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

Get Creative & Make It Your Own

  • Sprinkle Nori Komi Furikake on top of your rice. If you are vegan or vegetarian just make sure to check to see if it does not have fish in it.
  • To make your tofu caramelized, substitute the maple syrup with sugar. 
  • Double the marinade sauce for extra flavorful tofu.

These Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi are:

  • Satisfying
  • Flavorful
  • Kid Friendly
  • Fun to Make
  • Easy to Assemble 

If you make this tofu musubi I would love it if you would snap a photo of your food and share it with me on instagram @itsallgoodvegan. I can’t wait to see how you like it!

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

Vegan Hawaiian Tofu Musubi

5 from 1 vote
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Total Time: 50 minutes
Author: Marissa Wong | It's All Good Vegan
Servings: 7 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp oil I used avocado spray oil
  • 1 block of of extra firm tofu 14 ounces, pressed with the water removed
  • ¼ cup soy sauce gluten free
  • 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 clove or garlic minced
  • 3 sheets of nori roasted seaweed, cut into thirds
  • 1 cup white rice cooked, and cooled completely

Instructions

  • Cut the pressed tofu into 7 even slabs resembling a rectangle shape. 
  • In a large baking dish add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, maple syrup, onion powder, garlic, and whisk. Place the tofu down on the dish evenly and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 minutes, take out, flip, and marinate for an additional 10 minutes. 
  • Heat a large non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil and tofu. Fry on both sides for 3 minutes or until golden brown. For a more flavorful tofu brush or pour leftover marinade sauce on the tofu while frying. 
  • To assemble the tofu musubi I used a musubi maker press. Lay out one piece of nori horizontally with the shiny side down. 
  • Place the musubi mold down in the middle of nori vertically. Add ⅓ cup cooked rice evenly in the mold. Press the rice down using the flat part of the mold making an even pressed layer of rice. Don't be afraid to really press down, this will make sure the rice stays together. 
  • Place the fried tofu on top of the rice and remove the musubi mold. 
  • Wrap the nori around the rice and tofu. The nori should stick together, but if it doesn't you can add a drop of water at the ends to seal it together. 
  • Repeat until you have assembled all of your musubis.

Notes

Find more of Marissa’s recipes on @itsallgoodvegan.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Text, recipe, and photography by Marissa Wong.

Marissa Wong is the recipe creator and food photographer for It’s All Good Vegan. She loves to spend her days in the kitchen creating simple and healthy recipes. When she’s not developing recipes, she enjoys hiking and trying new restaurants with her family.

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