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Onigiri / Japanese Food

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Introduce "Onigiri (御握り; おにぎり)".
It is essentially a rice-cake. Great for after-school snacks for the kids and appetizers for adults!
Onigiri also known as omusubi (御結び; おむすび) or rice ball, is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed).
(Onigiri / Image)

Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with pickled ume (umeboshi), salted salmon, katsuobushi, kombu, tarako, or any other salty or sour ingredient as a natural preservative. Because of the popularity of onigiri in Japan, most convenience stores there stock onigiri with various fillings and flavors. There are even specialized shops whose only products are onigiri for take out.

How to Make Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)


First you'll need Rice! "What kind of rice, Sano-san?" Well not just any kind of rice! Preferably a Japanese rice. Instant rice doesn't stick as well and is harder to work with. I used Botan brand colrose rice. Remember, READ THE DIRECTIONS!!! This isn't some microwavable instand rice, it requires cooking and steaming, so be sure to pay attention to the directions.

Next you need Nori. It is a Japanese seaweed wrap. Now nori might not appeal to all people. It has a pungent smell and a somewhat fishy taste. It is definitely an acquired taste. I cut them into one inch wide strips.

Then you need a filling! This can be anywhere from slices of salmon or fish to umeboshi to even olives! Remember, this can technically be anything as long as it isn't moist (to interfere with the stickiness of the rice) and you'll probably want something with a kick to it. I use seasoned slices or julienned squash or cucumber marinaded in a ginger teriyaki sauce I made since I'm 'mostly' a vegetarian.

For spices I usually just dust the finished product with a mix of a teaspoon of ginger, pinch of salt, and a dash of cinnamon that I have pre-prepared in an empty shaker.

And last but certainly not least, a bowl of salt water. You should keep your hands slightly wet with this so the rice doesn't stick to your hands.


Now for the fun part!
First you cook the rice.
While the rice is cooking, prepare your fillings and seasonings and set them aside.
Prepare your salt water and cut your nori.
Sit out a small bowl or a Japanese tea cup, cut a 7x7 inch sheet of sturdy saran wrap and lay it on top of the bowl or cup. Press the center so that the middle of the plastic is inside the bowl and the edges are hanging down touching the table.

When the rice is done and cooled to touch, grab a full handful and place it in the cup. Pack it down pretty tight too. With your thumbs, make an indention or pocket in the middle and place your filling inside.

Take some extra rice, about just a pinch and place it on top of the whole where your filling is to cover it up. Then you will take the edges of the plastic wrap and pull them together.

Lift and dab a few times before twisting while making sure there is no air inside, and twist the edges together tightly. Now you have Onigiri in a bag! Squeeze it tight so the rice is packed very tightly together and will not crumble.

Traditionally, you will shape it in the form of a triangle (like the picture above) with flat ends. Unwrap the plastic wrap and fold the nori wrap under it. Lightly dust with your seasoning and you're done!

By J.S. on Apr 11, 2010

tag : Onigiri Japanese Food



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