Recipe: Salmon Musubi From the Kitchen Window column
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Salmon Musubi

This is a riff on Spam musubi, a Hawaiian favorite that is far less healthful (and some would say less delicious). Here I've used hoisin on the fish, but try using miso in its place as well. The sushi rice is adapted from Debra Samuels' My Japanese Table (Tuttle 2011). Mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine, is available in most Asian groceries, as are hoisin, miso and furikake, a Japanese seasoning mix.

Michele Kayal for NPR
Salmon Musubi
Michele Kayal for NPR

Makes 2 servings

For the rice

1 1/2 cups short grain rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoon sake

1 small strip of kelp (kombu) (optional)

For the seasoning

1/4 cup rice vinegar

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon mirin

For the fish

6 ounces salmon fillet, cut lengthwise into 2 wide strips

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon mirin

2 4-inch strips seaweed, about 1/2 inch wide

2 tablespoons furikake or sesame seeds (optional)

Pour the rice into a pot or rice cooker bowl and place under running water. Rinse until the water runs clear.

If you are using a rice cooker: Drain the rice in a colander and let sit for 30 minutes. Then, place the rice into the rice cooker and add the water, sake and kelp, if using. Cook according to manufacturer instructions.

Leftover rice can be pressed into shapes; the sides are rolled in furikake seasoning. Michele Kayal for NPR hide caption

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Michele Kayal for NPR

Leftover rice can be pressed into shapes; the sides are rolled in furikake seasoning.

Michele Kayal for NPR

If you are using a pot: After rinsing, fill the pot with clean water so that it covers the rice by about 1 inch. Soak for 20 minutes. Then, drain the rice in a colander and let sit for 30 minutes. When it is drained, combine the rice, water, sake and kelp, if using, in a medium saucepan. Cover with a lid. Cook the rice over medium heat for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until the rice is tender. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, combine the seasoning ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat until the sugar and salt dissolve. Set aside to cool.

For the fish, combine the hoisin, soy sauce and mirin in a small bowl. Brush the sauce onto the top of the salmon. Place the salmon under a broiler for 6 to 8 minutes until the top is browned and the flesh is almost done.

When the rice is done, transfer it to a bowl. Lift and fold the rice, preferably with two forks, to loosen it. Sprinkle the hot rice with the seasoning mixture a few tablespoons at a time, tossing as you go to coat all the grains. Taste as you go — you may not need all of it. Cover with a damp towel until you're ready to shape it.

To shape the rice into a block, wet your hands and place 2 or 3 tablespoons of rice into your palm. Cup your hands together, shaping the rice gently into a block. When it is well formed, lay on a piece of wax paper. If using furikake or sesame seeds, sprinkle them onto the paper and roll the block in the mixture to coat the sides (not the top and bottom. Repeat to create a second block. Place a piece of salmon on each. Tie each bundle around the middle with a strip of seaweed. Seal the seaweed using a damp finger at the seams.

Serve warm or cold. Shape leftover rice into balls using the same method. Roll in furikake for a tasty, quick snack or bento item for the following day.