A few weeks back, I was wandering around Manhattan, starving, and in need of a little something to tide me over until dinner.  Stumbled upon a compact Japanese grocery store in search of a snack. Slowly explored up and down the narrow aisles, trying to figure out to eat.  Then I spotted the onigiri (Japanese stuffed rice balls wrapped with nori).  With various varieties to choose from, and at $1.99 each, I grabbed a couple for the road.

Onigiri might just be the perfect snack.  Easy to consume on the go.  Not too heavy as to spoil your appetite for whatever comes next.  Exactly what I had in mind.  As for the packaging, it’s quite ingenious.  The onigiri is wrapped such that there is a layer of cellophane between the nori and the rice, which prevents the nori from getting soggy.  I know, doesn’t sound all that complicated or interesting, but for some reason I find it fascinating.  There are a series of origami-like tabs.  You pull the first tab, which splits the packaging.  Then, you pull the second tab, followed by the third tab, which pulls the packaging apart.  

Anyway, ever since then, I’ve had a craving for onigiri.  I’ve become a bit of an onigiri addict.  My next thought, no doubt: I need to learn how to make these at home.

My first attempt turned out okay (a little misshapen, not a perfect triangle).  I shaped the onigiri by hand.  But then I discovered this onigiri mold.  Yes, they really make such a thing.  For less then $3, it was worth every penny.  The mold works well (refer to photos below).  Suspect that a metal ring mold would also do the job.

I picked up some spicy, hot smoked salmon to use as a filling for the onigiri.  If salmon isn’t your thing, consider these fillings:

Vegetarian: avocado; egg; pickled vegetables; umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum); seaweed; tempura vegetables; kimchi.

Fish/Seafood: eel; tarako (salted cod roe); ikura (salted salmon roe); mentaiko (seasoned cod roe); spicy tuna tartare; soft-shelled crab; katsuo (dried bonito); octopus; shrimp.

Meat: minced chicken; pulled pork; smoked turkey. 

You can keep the rice simple, but I mixed in a Japanese rice seasoning, furikake, that I made from shiso leaves (which I dehydrated and crumbled), toasted sesame seeds, nori, and bonito flakes (post and recipe to follow shortly),

Let’s make some onigiri…it’s so easy!

Nov192015_0995 May292015_8199
In a small bowl, mix water and a little bit of salt.  Use this water to dampen your hands and prevent rice from sticking to your hands.  Scoop some rice and place at the bottom of the mold.

Add your filling of choice…

May292015_8218 May292015_8226

Add another layer of rice to cover the filling.  Gently push down…

Flip the mold, press down on the tabs, and release the onigiri…

And there you go.  Very simple.

Wrap in nori…

 

Enjoy.

 

 Or, you can pan-fry the onigiri, crisping the rice on the outside a bit…yaki onigiri (grilled rice balls).

 

Then, lightly brush with a little soy/tamari sauce…

 

Made this batch with a 6-grain rice

 

Smoked Salmon Onigiri

makes ~6 onigiri
2 cups short-grain Japonica rice, rinsed
furikake (optional); post on making your own to follow shortly or you get find online or at a Japanese market
smoked salmon or other desired filling
bowl of water with a little sea salt added

Rinse the rice under cold water.  Cook in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Place rice in a bowl.

Add a couple of tablespoons of furikake to the rice (more or less as you desire).

In a small bowl, mix water and a little bit of salt.  Use this water to dampen your hands and prevent rice from sticking to your hands.  Scoop some rice and place at the bottom of the mold.

Add your filling of choice (I like to be generous with the filling).  Add another layer of rice on top of the filling to cover.  Gently press down.  Flip the mold, press down on the tabs, and release the onigiri.

Cut nori sheets to fit the onigiri.  Wrap the nori around the onigiri.

You May Also Like

5 comments

Reply

These are beautiful! Must try soon. You're right, they're the best snack.

Reply

These are beautiful! Must try soon. You're right, they're the best snack.

Reply

What are you doing introducing me to the best kitchen gadget?!?! I need to get it immediately, so I can make your onigiri. They look so delicious, Linda <3 <3 <3

Reply

What are you doing introducing me to the best kitchen gadget?!?! I need to get it immediately, so I can make your onigiri. They look so delicious, Linda <3 <3 <3

Reply

Oh my…I’ve been wanting to make these! Yours look fabulous!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *