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Onigiri - A Taste of Japan

Discussion in 'Egg, Chicken, & Other Favorite Recipes' started by Stacykins, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. Stacykins

    Stacykins Overrun With Chickens

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    So I lived in Japan for four years whilst growing up. I may have been part of a military family but we sure as heck didn't stay on base! Being immersed in the culture for so long left me with great experiences. Anyway, today I was making up some onigiri, rice balls, for a treat. You know how a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a staple in an American lunchbox? Onigiri is the staple for a Japanese lunchbox. And just like sandwiches are versatile, onigiri is too!

    Making them is pretty simple. All you need is:

    1) Short grained rice (not jasmine or basmati, which are long grained)
    2) A filling (anything under the rainbow. Pickled plum is common in Japan, and it is delicious! But you can use hardboiled egg, tuna, vegetable, crab meat, etc. some people even use sweet ingredients rather than savory!)
    3) Nori - pressed sheets of seaweed. Yummy stuff!
    4) Salt, I prefer sea salt but anything works
    5) Water
    6) Time, but not much, these are easy!

    [​IMG]

    First step, wash hands! You'll be using your hands so you want them clean! Cook up the rice, either on a stovetop or using a handy dandy ricecooker. While the rice is cooking, you can prep everything else. Cut the nori into strips (many sheets already come perforated, but don't tear nicely usually), get the filling ready, etc.

    Once the rice is done, remove from heat and let cool until it is warm, but not cold. It is easy to form when it is warm.

    While rice is cooling, fill a bowl with a cup of water and several teaspoons of salt. This will be used to dip your hands into to wet them and keep the rice from sticking as you work the ball of rice. And it seasons the rice.

    Now the fun part, wet your hands with the salt water and grab up a handful of rice. Your hands will determine the size of the rice balls. If you've got little hands, you'll have cute little onigiri! First, dent a pocket into the rice for the filling, and then add however much you want. Then, form the rice into whatever shape you want, sealing the filling in the middle. You can either make it perfectly round, a cylinder, or a triangle. There are molds available for more complex shapes. If the rice starts sticking to your hands, just dip your hands in the salt water and the sticking will stop!

    [​IMG]

    I was going for a disk shape, a cylinder, and a failed square [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Once you've formed your rice ball, you'll wrap it with nori. Nori both adds delicious flavor and it makes it an easy finger food, since it acts as a wrapper so the rice doesn't stick to your fingers as you eat the rice ball. You can wrap it any way you like with whatever size strips. I like using big wide strips around the entire rice ball, since I love nori! Some people are more conservative with their nori.

    [​IMG]

    And you're done! It is best to eat them fresh, but if you don't eat them soon, please refrigerate them. In Japan, ones made with ingredients like pickled plum are good for quite a few hours unrefrigerated, since the filling helps preserve the onigiri. But if you make it with a filling that is very perishable like meat, proper food safety is best. When I make extras to refrigerate, I wrap each rice ball tightly in plastic wrap to seal in the moisture so it doesn't dry the rice out. This makes the nori chewy rather than crispy, but I personally like it that way.
     
  2. caspernc

    caspernc Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It looks great! YUM!
     

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