Leftovers Musubi


Leftovers Musubi is a lunch box favorite around our house, and not just because they’re tasty and filling! They can be made in a snap by both kids and adults, and they USE. UP. THE. LEFTOVERS. Win-win-triple win!

Spam sushi in Honolulu!

Whether you call it onigiri (in Japan) or musubi (in Hawaii), one thing is clear: it’s delicious. The compact rice balls are readily available at nearly any corner market or convenience store in both locales, with various options on the filling and typically covered in nori (dried seaweed). Salmon, pickled plum, smoked tuna, and kelp are common inclusions, and Hawaiians have put their own spin on it with the ever-popular Spam musubi. Yep, you read correctly: SPAM! Hawaii’s love affair with Spam bloomed during the second World War, and has spawned a number of dishes. From the ubiquitous gas station Spam musubi to high end fare from award winning chefs, it’s everywhere and available at every meal. Have a little Spam and eggs for breakfast, Spam fried rice for lunch, and Spam loco moco, a local favorite, for dinner.

If you aren’t Spam-ed out, head to the annual Waikiki Spam Jam! I noshed on a little Spam sushi on a recent trip to Waikiki, and I’ll admit that it is actually pretty tasty despite being the butt of many jokes during my childhood! 

I don’t often have Spam at home, but we do have sticky rice with dinner about once a week. My kids love it, partly because they know that sticky rice for dinner = Leftovers Musubi in their lunches the next day! Whether left plain or filled with a bit of leftover veg or protein from dinner, they’re easy enough to throw together while cleaning up after a meal. They travel beautifully, too. Leftovers Musubi is the perfect snack to take along wherever you’re going!

Leftovers Musubi

These Japanese-inspired rice balls are the perfect traveling snack, and a great way to eat up your leftovers!
Author: Mandy


  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 1 tsp leftover protein or vegetables
  • 1 c water
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 sheet nori optional
  • 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds optional


  • Dissolve the salt in water in a small bowl. 
  • If adding sesame seeds, mix them into your rice.
  • If using a mold, compress a small amount of rice into it using a spatula, the back of a spoon, or your fingers. Wet whatever tool you’re using with the salted water to keep the rice from sticking to it. Fill about half way.
    If using your hands, wet them with the salted water and work the rice into a tight ball or traditional triangle shape.
  • With your finger or a spoon, make a small divot in the center of the rice and put a small amount of your inclusions into it. Here, we’ve used baked salmon leftover from dinner.
  • Compress more rice on top of it until you’ve formed a rice ball, and remove from the mold if applicable.
  • Cut or tear your nori into your desired shape (get creative!). Lay it on your rice ball, and lightly wet it with the salted water to adhere it to the rice. 


I use a mold with the classic onigiri triangle shape, but you can use anything that you can compress the rice into – a cookie cutter, coffee cup, biscuit cutter. Anything is fine, or you can go the traditional route and shape and compress them by hand.

The Table For Six family enjoyed some delicious baked salmon with sticky rice last night, served with sauteed bok choy and our zingy watercress cream sauce. Follow along as I put our leftovers to use AND make tomorrow’s lunch box snack in just a couple of minutes!

Smash and compact the rice into whatever you’re using as a mold. Deep cookie cutters and biscuit cutters work well, or you can use your hands to press the rice into the traditional triangle shape. I use a broad, flat spatula, my hands, or the back of a spoon. Dip whatever tool you’re using in salty water to keep it from sticking.

Press a divot into the center.

Add a surprise in the middle! We’re using our leftover salmon. 

Smoosh and smash more rice on top until it’s smooshed and smashed together.

Press it out of the mold, and you’re done! 

Now that you have the basics, you can get a little creative. Roll your musubi in black sesame seeds. Cut some cute shapes out of a nori sheet and “glue” them on with salty water. Or go next-level and delight your kids with these adorable onigiri molds and special nori cutting tools

甘い * Umai! * It’s delicious!

These were my first attempt at making onigiri by hand many years ago. It is much easier with the a mold, but these were fun!

Fun fact: The sound hole of KoAloha’s ukuleles are modeled after the classic onigiri triangle! I was fortunate to tour their factory through Airbnb Experiences during a trip to Honolulu

KoAloha Ukulele



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