Japanese people have enjoyed the irresistible triangle-shaped Onigiri rice balls wrapped in nori sheets for a long time. Even before the invention of nori sheets in the Edo era (1603-1868), people wrapped rice balls in bamboo leaves and pickled vegetable leaves for a leisurely picnic outside, work lunch, and on their journeys.
Today, there are countless varieties of Onigiri stuffed with a variety of fillings, and if you are in Japan, you will find them at local convenience stores, markets as well as in people’s lunch boxes.
We have two kids of Onigiri today. Once you master the art of preparing and forming the triangle shapes, the opportunities are endless for the fillings (e.g., salted salmon, tuna-mayo, grilled cod-roe, pickled greens, natto, etc.).
Onigiri is best eaten within the same day of making. To best enjoy the crispiness of nori sheets, store the Onigiri and seaweed separately.
Onigiri Rice Balls
- rice cooker
- 2 cups white rice Short or medium grain. Kokuho Rose for this recipe.
- 2.5 cups water
- 3 Umeboshi, pickled plum Remove seeds and break them up into small pieces.
- 0.15 oz Bonito flakes
- 1.5 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2-3 sheets Nori Cut each sheet of nori crosswise into 4 strips. Total of 8-10 strips.
- sea salt
- Gather ingredients.
- Wash the rice well and drain. In a rice cooker, add washed rice and 2 ½ cups of water. Let the rice soak in the water, about 15-30 minutes. Cook the rice according to your rice cooker.
- Mix the bonito flakes with soy sauce. Set it aside.
- When the rice is cooked, fluff the rice with shamoji (wooden spoon) and divide the rice roughly into 8-10. Keep the rice hot.
- Set the working station with cooked rice, a bowl of water, an empty rice bowl, a small bowl of sea salt, bonito/ soy mixture, plum paste, and a plate large enough to hold all the rice balls.
- Scoop ⅛ (or 1/10) of the rice into the empty rice bowl. Make an indentation in the middle. Place pickled plum or bonito.
- Moist both of our hands, and apply small amounts of salt (approximately ½ teaspoon) to your hand. Transfer the rice from the rice bowl on to moist hands and gently form the rice into a triangle shape. Place it on a plate and continue making until all the rice is formed into onigiri.
- Wrap each onigiri with one strip of Nori. Enjoy.