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Now reading Onigiri

An anytime snack, ideal for picnics, popular with children. The salted-hand technique outlined here comes from my friend Miki Tanaka, and is the secret to killer onigiri.

This comes from our first cookbook, 101 Easy Asian Recipes, out now. 

Ingredients

Makes 6 onigiri
  • 4 C freshly cooked short-grain rice (still hot)
  • + sea salt
  • + filling (choose one): umeboshi, mayonnaise-y tuna salad, chopped parsley (see below for amounts)
  • + one of the following (optional): sesame seeds, 8" x 2" strips toasted nori

Preparation

  1. Set up your onigiri-building station: Arrange a rice cooker or pot with cooked rice, bowls with salt and filling, and a dish of water within arm’s reach. Have ready a plate or baking sheet on which you will place your formed onigiri. If using sesame seeds, scatter on a plate.

  2. Fluff the rice with a fork. (For parsley onigiri, add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and a little salt.) Wet your hands in the dish of water and sprinkle them with salt. Scoop about 2/3 cup rice into your hand and make a 1-inch hollow in the center of the rice with your finger. Then:

    For umeboshi: 

    Place 1 plum into the hollow, then seal the rice over the filling. Roll the rice into a ball, then gently shape and compact it with your salted hands, gradually forming a 1-inchthick triangular shape.

    For tuna:

    Place 1 tablespoon tuna salad into the hollow, then seal the rice over the filling. Roll the rice into a ball, then gently shape and compact it with your salted hands, gradually forming a 1-inch-thick triangular shape.

    For parsley:

    Gently shape and compact the parsleyflecked rice with your salted hands, gradually forming a 1-inch-thick triangular shape.

  3. If desired, wrap each onigiri with a strip of toasted nori or roll in sesame seeds to coat.

    Variation:

    Turn these into yaki onigiri. Heat a castiron skillet over medium heat. Add the onigiri to the pan and cook until a light crust forms, about 2 minutes. Flip and brush lightly with soy sauce. Cook until a crust forms on the other side. Flip and brush with soy sauce. Cook until golden brown and crisp, flipping as necessary, until crisp all over, about 5 minutes.