For many, a first experience of onigiri was watching an anime character tuck into one gleefully. Onigiri, or rice balls stuffed with delicious fillings are an on-the-go snack that are simply synonymous with Japan. They're extremely delicious, filling and can be made simply with a Japanese pickle stuffing, or exotic with a slightly less traditional beef, chicken or tuna filling.
Onigiri fit nicely into a lunchtime bento box, and you can find them being sold at many Japanese convenience stores and vending machines for people looking for something to satisfy their munchies. They also make for a great party or picnic food!
Traditionally, Onigiri are wrapped in a little nori, which sort of helps to keep your hands clean! They're also often dipped in a think coat of seasoning which just adds to their morishness.
Today we're sharing a recipe for three types of Onigiri fillings, and we'll give you a quick tutorial on how to make and shape the rice too!
You will need:
How to Make Onigiri
Wash then cook the sushi rice in the water until all the water has evaporated. Leave the lid on the pan until the rice has cooled - you can season with sushi vinegar, sugar and salt if you like, but it's not necessary for onigiri.
When the rice has cooled it will be very sticky. At this point, line your Onigiri moulds with cling film to make it very easy to remove the shaped rice. Fill the moulds but keep them in halves, as you will need to add the fillings before closing the onigiri.
Our first filling is Sake Shitaake mushrooms, cook the mushrooms on a low heat with a little vegetable or sesame oil and when they look well cooked, drain off all of the excess liquid, or it will make your onigiri soggy! In a seperate pan fry up a paste of ginger with rice wine vinegar, sake and soy sauce. Add this mix to the mushrooms and leave to absorb the flavours for ten minutes.
The second filling is very traditional: umeboshi, which are pickled plums. They have a lovely sweet but sharp taste with a little crunch to them, so they go fantastically with rice. Simply chop the umeboshi and mix them with a few sesame seeds.
The third filling is Miso chicken, to make this fry some chopped chillies, then add the chicken thighs. When nearly cooked, mix in the miso paste and fry until the chicken is ready and tender.
Add 1 teaspoon of filling to one half of your onigiri, then squish the second half of the onigiri mould filled with rice on to the top. Add a little water for glue if your rice is starting to dry.
Carefully remove the onigiri from their moulds and roll them in furikake seasoning.
Finally, add a small strip of nori to the onigiri so you can hold them!