Musubi Lettuce Wraps With Pineapple Salsa

Misubi, the beloved Hawaiian snack made of Spam, sushi rice, and nori, happens to be a perfect party appetizer. In this version, sticky, sweet ham replaces the Spam, and is topped with a vibrant pineapple salsa. When cutting the pineapple for the salsa, don't be delicate—give it a good mashing to release juices and reduce the cooking time, keeping the flavors bright. If you can, use a cutting board with a small moat around the edges to catch the pineapple juices, then add them to the pot with the pineapple. The pineapple salsa would also be great with a bowl of chips or spooned on top of tacos.

Musubi Lettuce Wraps
Photo: Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Ali Ramee
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins


  • 1 ½ cups (10 1/2 ounces) uncooked short-grain sushi rice

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1/2 cup tap water, divided, plus more for rinsing rice

  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 pound ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

  • ¼ cup soy sauce

  • 3 cups very finely chopped pineapple (from 1 [3-pound] whole pineapple) with juices

  • 1 (1/2-oz.) red Fresno chile, seeded and finely chopped (1/2 tablespoon)

  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

  • 18 napa cabbage leaves (from 1 [2-pound] head cabbage), torn into 36 (about 4-inch square) pieces

  • ¼ cup very thin nori (dried seaweed) strips (either store-bought or cut with scissors from 1 nori sheet)


  1. Place rice in a strainer; rinse under water until water runs clear. Drain. Place rice and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Cover; reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, to finish cooking, about 20 minutes.

  2. Transfer rice to a large bowl; add vinegar, 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons of the salt. Gently toss to combine. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

  3. Place ham, brown sugar, soy sauce, and remaining 1/2 cup water in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and liquid is syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

  4. Place pineapple, chile, and remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a stainless-steel saucepan. Cook over medium-high, stirring often, until pineapple releases its liquid and mixture is a jam-like consistency, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Stir in lime juice and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt.

  5. Lay cabbage pieces flat on a clean work surface. Top each with 2 tablespoons rice, 1 1/2 tablespoons ham mixture , 2 teaspoons pineapple salsa, and a pinch of nori strips.

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