Teriyaki Tofu Musubi, a Spam® Alternative

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I am officially the luckiest chef-doctor in the world right now.  This week, I had the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming opportunity to be flown to beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii, to teach three classes of physicians and other health professionals from Hawaii Permanente Medical Group (HPMG), aka Kaiser Permanente Hawaii.

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I taught three classes: Eating for Menopause, Reinvented Hawaiian Pupus (Appetizers), and Mediterranean.  I absolutely loved meeting my enthusiastic Island colleagues, who were all excited about cooking, learning about culinary medicine and for some, interested in starting up an Island edition of the Thrive Kitchen! Dreams do come true.  Mahalo to the HPMG team for so generously hosting me and also to my enthusiastic students! This was a major highlight of my career.

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The overall favorite of the ten recipes I taught was Teriyaki Tofu Musubi, a much nutritionally improved version of the beloved Spam® musubi, which is basically a slab of the processed meat much beloved by Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders on top of a slab of equally beloved white rice.  Besides swapping out the Spam® with tofu, we used Hapa rice (50:50 white and brown).  I was happy to see that my students loved it!  Enjoy!

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For additional recipes from this series, check out my recipes for:

Tomato Poke

Edamame Hummus

Kale and Walnut Pesto

More to come in the future!


Teriyaki Tofu Musubi 

Who doesn’t love Spam® musubi? Try this teriyaki glazed tofu version for a snack you can feel good about.  Tofu is a great plant based source of protein and the glaze provides a flavor punch that doesn’t feel virtuous.

Makes 8 to 10


1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed

3 cups cooked haiga rice (preferred), brown sushi rice or mixed rice

2 T low sodium soy sauce

2 T sugar

1-2 T canola oil, for frying

Nori sheets


Special equipment: musubi maker/sushi press (available in Japanese supermarkets)


  1. Press tofu: drain, then wrap tofu in two layers of paper towel and sandwich between two cutting boards with a weight on top for at least 30 minutes. Slice into ¼ inch thick pieces the size of your musubi maker.
  2.  Mix soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl and stir to dissolve.
  3.  Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat.  Add sliced tofu and brown on both sides.
  4.  After 2 minutes, pour the sauce over the tofu.  Cook for another 2 minutes on each side until crispy and caramelized. Set aside.
  5.  Prepare your musubi maker.  (if you can’t get one, you could try shaping these by hand, but it will be messy.)  Cut the nori sheets into one inch wide strips and lay them on a flat surface, such as a cutting board. Center the musubi maker over the nori strip and add about ½ cup of rice to the center, and press firmly. Remove the press and sprinkle furikake on top, then add a prepared slice of tofu. Wrap the nori around the rice and Spam and seal the edges with a dab of water, if needed.
  6. Repeat until you have used up all the rice and tofu.  Eat immediately or wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

Nutrition Info per musubi:

Cal 140, Fat 3 g, Protein 7 g, Sodium 158 mg, Sugar 4 g

Thanks/Mahalo for coming by! 

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Looking to expand your culinary repertoire, or trying to eat more healthfully? If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, join me in the Thrive Kitchen at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco for hands-on healthy cooking classes. The next class is 7/25, Spanish Summer: Gazpacho and Tapas.  Registration opens 6/25 (email SFHealthEd@kp.org  or call 415-833-3450 for more information and to register).

And please “Like” to join The Doctor’s Spicebox, my healthy cooking community on Facebook, where I share recipes and nutrition articles.  To your health!

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