The Goteborg Musubi Project

Goteborg Musubi – a specialty from Kauai – with 7 varieties of toppings

A few weeks ago I wrote about the discovery of Goteborg Musubi – a Kauai specialty – introduced only recently to us Oahu folks at The Poke Bowl, a new take-out eatery in Ward Farmers Market.

To further demystify what this is all about and its potential, I set out to make Goteborg Musubi myself, taking it another level by adding various pickled vegetable (Tsukemono) toppings, along with a few extra twists.

Obviously the first question you might ask is, “What is Goteborg?”. Well, that would be the sausage, as you see is the foundational base underneath the rice. According to this website, Goteborg sausage is described as “Swedish sausage or Goteborg consists of 75% beef and 25% pork. The meat is chopped coarser than cervelat. It is stuffed in beef middle casings and smoked hard. In appearance it is similar to Farmer sausage. Swedish sausage is popular with the Swedish and Norwegian trade”.

Thanks to reader “Shar”, I found Goteborg Sausage at Times Supermarket’s Kahala location. Here it is…

Hormel Brand Goteborg Sausage – measurement: 17″Lx2-3/4″D

As you see, this Goteborg sausage measures just under 17″ in length x 2-3/4″ in diameter. It’s HUGE.

Here’s a better look at the label…

Here it is unwrapped…

A 3-1/4 lb. sausage. Whoah!

To further give you scale of just how big this sausage is, that bamboo place mat measures 20″ diagonally from corner to corner, and the sausage practically fills that span. That rectangle plate is about as large in length as your typical round dinner plate is in diameter.

This Hormel brand (same makers as SPAM!) Goteborg has an inedible plastic-based casing that must be removed before cooking and consumption.

Here it is, cut and sliced for service…

Here’s a closer look at each slice

The most crucial part of a good musubi is properly cooked rice. Thankfully our automatic rice cooker does a great job at that…

According to Derek of The Poke Bowl, they fry their Goteborg, just like how SPAM is fried to make SPAM Musubi. So I fried the thin slices (about 1/8″ thick) in LARD! The heat tightens it, making the thinly-sliced Goteborg take on a concave shape as you see here…

I still don’t know the exact history of Kauai’s now famous Goteborg Musubi, but can just imagine someone, somewhere from Kekaha to Koloa to Kapaa fried a slice of Goteborg up like I did here, looked at it, and said, “PERFECT! All that needs is a ball of rice to fill this bowl-shaped sausage slice”.

So I balled up an approriate amount of Gohan (rice) in my wet hand, along with just a slight sprinkle of table salt (like my granda used to make our musubi) and formed a ball by -squeeze-pressing it into shape, then topping each Goteborg sausage slice…

Ya’ know, just plain like this without the Furikake or other toppings was ono in its own right. Winnah! See, the Goteborg – like most other sausages – is quite salty. So that flavor really carries through in the rice. It has exactly the same complimentary texture and taste dynamics as a SPAM Musubi. That’s the best way I can describe it.

The Poke Bowl presents Goteborg Musubi with Furikake on it, Jobo’s (a personal friend with roots in Kauai) style…

So I figured there’s so much more potential, aiming for Tsukemono (pickled vegetables) as the primary theme. With that, here’s what I chose to try adding to the Goteborg Musubi toppings mix…

AKA UME – Plum, water, vinegar, salt, food colorign, potassium sorbate

TAKUAN (pickled radish ) – Radish, water, salt, sugar, glacial acetic acid, yellow food coloring, sodium benzoate)

I actually forgot about the Takuan in the fridge when making each musubi, so I didn’t get a picture of it with that on top. But I tried it afterwards and can say, it’s a fantastic combo! The pungeant, slightly-sweet and distinctive flavor of the Takuan along with the rice and Goteborg is excellent. Excellent!


SUSHI SHOGA – Ginger, sugar, vinegar, amino acid, red food coloring

KYURI ZUKE (salty) – Cucumber, ginger, sesame seeds, salt, soy sauce

GOMA KONBU (sweet) – Sea weed, sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce

BENI SHOGA (salty) – Ginger, salt, vinegar, amino acid, red food coloring

Tuoy’s Hawaiian Chili Pepper Pickled Onions


Trying something completely different than the rest, Iriko was added to the mix…

IRIKO – Dried anchovies and salt

Iriko are small, dried and salted (preserved) anchovies. You prepare it by simply frying them in a pan with oil (in my case I used lard!) until golden and crispy, then drizzle with shoyu and toss to coat. So delicous with rice!

As expected, it was too salt and a bit too fishy to compliment the already-salty, beefy Goteborg sausage, but wasn’t bad. By itself with rice, awesome. With Goteborg? OK to try, but not something I’d make again.

Let’s look again at the entire spread with the various toppings presented here…

The Tasty Island’s Goteborg Musubi Project

Gotta’ admit, that looks delicious and really pretty! Dig the contrasting shapes and colors of the toppings, highlighted by the white rice underneath them.

Let’s check out each one…

Goteborg Goma Konbu Musubi

Goteborg Kimchee Musubi

Goteborg Iriko, Pickled Onion and Sushi Shoga Musubi

Goteborg Kyuri Zuke Musubi

Goteborg Ume Nori Musubi

This was my favorite. Except for the Iriko version, all of them were excellent in their own right. Yet, this Ume and Nori version stuck out as my number one favorite, mainly because that’s my favorite musubi even without the Goteborg.

I liked the Nori version so much, I made one with Nori completely encapsulating the musubi, as I like to sometimes do with “regular” musubi…

Hey, common, you gotta’ admit that that little strip of Nori just enough! “Choke” da’ nori. Choke ’em! lol

Really though, the acidity, saltyness and sweetness of each pickled vegetable topping all shined with character, complimenting the Goteborg beautifully. I’d certainly recommend you try any one of them if you decide to take on a Goteborg Musubi project of your own.

If that’s too much work (I didn’t think it was!), just head on down to Ward Farmers Market and check out The Poke Bowl. They sell them there.

This truly was a fun and tasty project. Goteborg Musubi rocks!

Related links:
Kauai Classic: Goteborg Musubi
The Poke Bowl


17 thoughts on “The Goteborg Musubi Project

  1. I am now hook on rice with poke so I will at home musubis with poke. Due to poke not a good out too long. Real reason once I made it got to eat it right away can’t wait.

  2. All your musubi look great, but the one completely covered in nori is mysterious. You could hide any of the other toppings in there so no one would really know what they were getting until they put it in their mouth.

    I’d take the ume one, but leave the takuan – don’t really like that stuff.

  3. Aloha, I can confirm that the have the same Hormel brand Goteborg sausages at my local Times Kaneohe. The pricing is the same too. Pomai you made it look so ono, but I don’t know about buying such a huge slab for two people. What was your experience with storing it?

    Maybe I’ll pick one up when we have Christmas pupu’s to make for a big crowd.

  4. A friend of my daughter’s on Kaua’i sent a couple and started making musubi with furikake and other itms I had on hand. I literalyate a fourth of one the first day. I shared with a couple of my friends from Kaua’i,who brings back a luggage full to share with family and friends. Had a platter full to have my family try on our Christmas party. Mixed comments. Never mind I luv it.
    I never had it when I lived on Kaua’i, maybe because I was from the Lihu’e- Kapaa’s side
    Thanks for Ur site.
    Bessie Cabinatan Snively

  5. I grew up going to Kauai every summer and this is one of my favorites. They are called “UFO’s”. I thought cause flying saucers were taken. Which is another great then to get on Kauai at the bon dances every summer.

  6. Lisa, several of you Kauai folks now have already, sort of vaguely explained “UFOs” and “Flying Saucers”, but I’m still not clear on all your “explanations” of which is the right name, where or why it’s called that. What do you mean because you “thought flying saucers were taken”? I don’t understand. Please elaborate. Mahalo!

  7. pomai, i know your questions wasn’t directed at me but i thought i could help with satisfy your curiosity. A flying saucer on Kauai is kind of a cross between a sloppy joe and a grilled cheese sandwhich. Its a meat and cheese mixture usally infused with some sort of tomato based sauce that is put between two peices of buttered (on the outside) bread and then squished between two metal plates. The presure and heat creates a seal so the meat mixture cant get out. The plates are then put over a grill or fire and cooked. When its done it comes out of hte plates a warm delicious ooey gooey cheesy meaty handheld sandwhich of sorts. The reason they are called flying saucers is becuase the plates are round in shape and have a slight convex on either side becuase of hte filling. Hope that made sense!

  8. Chiemi, thank you very much for that most thorough explanation. So that means a “Flying Saucer” has nothing to do with a “UFO”, a.k.a. Goteborg Musubi. At least in “Kauai speak”. I’d sure like to see an example of a “Flying Saucer” as you describe it.

    Is there any particular store or restaurant on Kauai that still sells “Flying Saucers”? Otherwise I’m curious if there’s a recipe for this “Sloppy Joe” mixture of cheese, meat and tomato-based sauce.

    As for Goteborg, believe it or not, the current Time’s Supermarket ad (an Oahu-based supermarket chain who recently bought Star Supermarket) has Goteborg Sausage featured in it, listed at $6.99/pound.

  9. Pomai,
    i have attached a link to a picture i found on google. Thats a pretty good estimation of what it looks like. As far as resturants go, i don’t know of a one that sells flying saucers, they are usually found at fairs and festivals like bon dances (thats where i have seen them the most). As far as a recipe, i wasn’t able to find one online anywhere but i am sure my mom or grandma has a decent one. I will report back if i find anything else 🙂

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