Poi Dog Musubis
by Chris Vacca and Kiki Aranita
Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes from invited artists and community members consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, rivers, and other portals.
Poi Dog Snack Shop was started by Chris Vacca and Kiki Aranita. They serve a constantly rotating menu of snacks, Hawaiian plate lunches, musubis, tacos, Filipino desserts and mochi in Philadelphia. Here, they share their musubi memories and a recipe for you to make your own.
Kiki: For the most part, we only serve spam musubis on the cart (sometimes Portuguese sausage ones), but Tuna Mayo Musubis are actually dearer to my heart than any other kind of musubi. They’re my favorite type of musubi at Mana-Bu’s in Honolulu (the best place to get musubis on earth) and I have special memories with them in Hong Kong (my other hometown) and Taiwan, as well. I taught in Taipei for a few months and many mornings, as I was rushing to class, I would get myself a Tuna Mayo Musubi and a can of Macadamia Mr. Coffee from 7-11. I really think musubis taste better when someone else makes them for you, so I think Chris’ Tuna Mayo Musubis are superior to mine.
Chris: Yup, mine are better. It’s true that Mana-Bu’s are the best, but I find myself constantly grabbing Tuna Mayo musubis on the go wherever I see them when in Hawaii: Foodland, 7-11, ABC Stores, Shirokiya, gas stations. Their simplicity makes these the perfect snack. They are delicious and satisfying. When I eat them in Philly, they immediately conjure up nostalgia for all the times we’ve hopped around Oahu with a bunch of musubis in tow.
Kiki: Like that time my Aunty Cyn picked us up from the airport with eight Tuna Mayo Musubis from Mana-Bu’s. They sell out of those so fast (usually before 1pm), I was really impressed.
Chris: When we make them in Philly, it’s best to use the highest quality jarred tuna we can find. We brought some Sicilian-jarred tuna packed in olive oil from Milan a couple weeks ago for this express purpose.
Kiki: I know this sounds ridiculous, but try it and get back to us.
2 cups cooked sushi rice (preferably Tamanashiki)
1 tsp of mirin
2-3 sheets of nori
1 can tuna
½ Cup Mayo (roughly)
salt + pepper
1. Mix tuna, mayo, salt, and pepper to taste.
2. Wash cucumber and slice in half horizontally then break each half down into 6-8 spears.
3. Mix the mirin into the rice.
4. Cut each sheet of nori in half and toast briefly over an open flame.
5. Spread a layer of seasoned rice over 1/3 of each piece of nori, then add 2 tbsp tuna mixture and 1 cucumber spear.