8 Oct 2009

Variety Bites

Since coming to japan I have developed an obsession for onigiri (rice balls).   So much so I have ditched the sandwich for the delightful pretty tasty treats.   It has come to the point that my day doesn't feel fulfilled until I have munched on an onigiri.

The joy with onigiri is that you can put pretty much put anything you want in them from bacon, eggs, haggis, fish to veggie's beans and pickles.  The options are endless use your imagination, anything goes.

What's also exiting about these savoury treats is that each new onigiri can be a surprise when preparing a variety for guests.
You can be guaranteed they will be polished off in a matter of minutes.

The traditional shape to prepare onigiri into is a triangle, however you can be experimental with their shape or simply shape them into balls and roll them in sesame seads.   Personally though, I prefer the triangles, especially since I have a nifty wee mold making them perfect every time, although using your eye and clean wet hands also works just fine.

My favourite filling by far is umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), see picture above.  Other favourites are listed bellow.  Honestly though, try anything you like as it probably will work!


1 cup Japanese or short grain rice  (making 6 small onigiri)
1 cup water
1 tsp salt and pepper

Either cook according to the instructions on your packet of rice, or if you have a rice cooker like me, follow the quantities above and switch the rice cooker on regular cook and wait for it to time out.
When the rice has finished cooking, open the lid and fluff the rice allowing it to cool a little before making the onigiri.
In the mean time prepare your desired filling.
If you like you can take ideas from my list or follow the same fillings as I usually use.

If you don't have a mold then using your hands is pretty simple

1st - after cleaning your hands, wet them and dust with a little salt

2nd - spoon some rice into the palm of your hands making a cup shape.

3rd - make a well in the ball you have made with your hands then spoon a little of your desired filling.

4th - cover with a little more rice.

5th - Shape the mixture into a tight ball or shape into a triangle.

6th - practice makes perfect.

An alternative is to use a piece of plastic wrap using the same method as above from the 2nd step then gathering the four corners of the plastic wrap then twist and shape with your hands.

Filling 1:

1 tblsp Mayo
0.5 tsp wasabi paste
[this is a dressing so use sparingly.  making it in a small dish and add the amount you need when you need it]
3 king size prawns cooked and chopped / 1 tblsp drained tuna flakes

Filling 2:

Half a cup diced cooked pumpkin
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
1 tsp toasted sesame seads

Chop the pumpkin and mix into the mirin soy sauce and allow the pumpkin to soak up the flavour
Remove excess liquid then mix in the sesame seeds.

Filling 3:

Half a cup avocado chopped
Wasabi paste to taste(optional) / a little of the dressing you used for the prawns and tuna
salt and pepper to taste

Filling 4:

Small Diced cucumbers
dab of wasabi (optional)
sprinkle Ukari flakes / salt and pepper

Filling 5:

4 pitted umeboshi (chopped)

Make a well in the triangle and scoop in a little filling then cover with a little more rice.
Dress with nori (seaweed strips) or sesame seeds.

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