Discover how to make 6 different types of onigiri, Japan's favourite snack.
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How To Make Onigiri, Japan’s Favourite Snack.
If you have been to Japan, you will have seen onigiris in bentos, shops in train stations and in the famous “konbini”, the famouse convenience stores. If you haven’t tried them, you’ve probably seen them in a documentary about Japan or in a manga/anime (Pokémon, Shin-Chan, Dragon Ball, One Piece, Food Wars, Fruits basket, Ranma 1/2,…). They are so popular in Japan that it is not surprising that onigiri have been part of Japanese culture for centuries.
What is onigiri?
Onigiri, also known as O-musubi or Nigirimeshi, are balls of cooked rice that are shaped, usually into a triangle and accompanied by nori seaweed.
The history of onigiri is closely linked to that of bentos. As early as the 11th century AD, the diary of Murasaki Shikibu mentions people eating rice balls at picnic lunches in the open air. Later, in the 17th century AD, there are references to samurai eating rice balls wrapped in bamboo leaves during wartime.
Onigiri Recipe, types of Onigiri
There are so many different types of onigiri. Today I will share with you 6 of my ways to enjoy them:
- Classic: Made with rice, a little water, salt and nori seaweed.
- Tuna and Mayonnaise Onigiri: A classic onigiri filled with tuna and kewpie mayonnaise.
- Okaka onigiri: Filled with katsuobushi mixed with soy sauce.
- Furikake onigiri: Ongiri with furikake. One of the easiest to make. Pick your favourite kind of furikake: katsuobushi, egg, salmon or even wasabi.
- Yaki onigiri: My husband’s favourite. Toasted in a frying pan/grill and covered with tasty sauce.
- Spicy Chicken: My favourite. With marinated chicken, spring onion, carrot, ginger and a spicy mayonnaise made with kewpie mayonnaise and gochujang.
How to make the perfect onigiri
Making an onigiri is easy. You prepare the rice and your favourite filling. Here are the tips and tricks to make a perfect one:
Tips 1: Use freshly prepared rice.
Although you can use leftover rice to prepare a delicious onigiri, it is advisable to prepare it as soon as the rice is ready. This way it will be much better and easier to prepare. Make sure you let the rice cool down enough to avoid burning your hands. Simply let the rice cool down enough so that you don’t burn your hands when shaping it.
Tip 2: The importance of water
Have you ever tried to make onigiri and got all the rice stuck to your hands? To prevent this from happening, there is an essential and very easy step. Simply moisten your hands lightly with water. This will prevent the rice from sticking to your hand, and if at any point you notice that it starts to stick, simply moisten your hands lightly once more.
Tip 3: The salt
Onigiri were born to be enjoyed outside the home. To do that, it necessary to find a method to preserve the rice and prevent it from spoiling and salt was the solution. Not only does it add flavour, but it also helps to keep the onigiri fresh for longer. A trick to spread the salt evenly is, as soon as we have wet our hands, we add a little salt to them and rub them together. This way, when you shape the onigiri, the salt will be transferred to the onigiri evenly.
Tip 4: How do we shape them?
We form the bottom part using the palm of our left hand and the top part using our right hand, which we place as if it were an inverted V shape. Then, press it in the palm of the left hand and rotate it so that all the corners are well triangulated. To prevent it from falling apart, it is important that your hands are firm and press down on the onigiri without flattening it. If you don’t feel like shaping it into a triangle, you can shape it into a ball or cylinder.
Tip 5: Seaweed
If you have had the pleasure of eating onigiri in Japan, you may have been surprised to find that some of them are wrapped so that the seaweed and the rice are separated. This is because some people prefer the seaweed to be crispy and others don’t mind the seaweed losing its crispness due to the moisture released by the onigiri.
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See you on the next one!
- rice - for every 3 onigiri 1 cup
- salt 1 tsp
- water 1 cup
- nori seaweed
Spicy Chicken Onigiri
- chicken - cut into slices 75 gr
- ginger - cut into think slices 1 piece
- carrot - cut into think slices 1 piece
- spring onion - cut into think slices 1 piece
- soy sauce 1 tbsp
- sake 1 tbsp
- ajo 1/2 clove
- mayonnaise 1 tbsp
- gochujang sauce - optional
Wash the rice and prepare it in a pot or in a rice cooker.
Start by dipping the hands with water and adding a little salt.
To shape the lower part of the onigiri, use the left hand and for the upper part, use the right hand.
Then press the triangle in the palm of your hand and rotate the onigiri so that all the corners are well triangulated.
Optionally, add nori.
Prepare the unagi sauce.
Add the sugar and sake to a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Then add the mirin and soy sauce. Bring to the boil and remove.
Prepare a clasic onigiri.
Heat a frying or cast iron pan over medium heat.
When hot, add the onigiri in and let it cook until it starts to brown, turn it over and toast it on the other side.
When it starts to brown, spread a little unagi sauce on top with a brush.
Turn it over and cook carefully as it burns quickly. Repeat with the other side and it's ready!
In a bowl, add the chicken, soy sauce, sake and grated garlic. Mix and leave to marinate for 15 minutes.
Mix the mayonnaise and gochujang sauce in a small bowl.
In a frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil and sauté the ginger, carrot and spring onion.
Then cook the chicken until it is cooked through.
Finally, prepare an onigiri following the instructions for the basic onigiri.
When the onigiri is ready, make a vertical slit in the centre of the onigiri with your finger and place some of the spicy mayonnaise, the sautéed vegetables and the chicken.
Finally use a piece of nori seaweed to wrap the onigiri so that it holds the chicken and vegetables so that they don't fall off.
Mix the katsuobushi with the soy sauce. Wet your hands, add a little salt, and take the rice. Shape the rice into a bowl and add the Okaka filling in the centre. Then cover it with the rice and you can start shaping it into onigiri.
Optionally, add nori.
How To Make Onigiri
Amount Per Serving (1 onigiri)
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.