Thursday, February 18, 2010

Onigiri: Japanese for Sandwich

Onigiri making supplies

During the fall I used my bento box almost every day, but holiday cooking and baking derailed my efforts for a time. So, to get back into the swing, last weekend I made a quintessential Japanese lunch dish - onigiri (ahh-NIH-gear-ee). Onigiri is basically a rice ball with some kind of filling. I think of it very much as the Asian equivalent of a sandwich.

I found very simple onigiri instructions on But, in short, take Japanese (sushi) rice, which is rather sticky, and make it into a ball with something tasty in the middle. I made 1 1/2 cups of rice and ended up with 12 pretty large onigiri.

A layer of rice with filling.

I used leftover wonton filling from Phineas' last batch of dumplings (ie: pork, shrimp, scallion, napa, soy sauce, etc) for my onigiri. I shaped the filling into little logs and pan fried them. You could use anything you want as filling as long as it isn't too wet. I'm considering using any of these for future batches: meatballs of every stripe (Italian, Swedish, lamb & mint...), chopped up roast pork, herbed goat cheese, some smoked salmon or other cured fish... You only use a little filling, so you want it to be flavorful.

A second layer of rice was added, then I smooshed the onigiri into shape.

To shape my onigiri, I used a rice mold that I bought at an Asian grocery store for a few dollars. Onigiri can come in many different shapes. Mine are fat logs. If you don't have a mold, you can just make them into balls.

Finally, I decorated my onigiri with nori (sushi wrappers) cut into strips and sesame seeds. A sprinkle of salt on each one is also traditional and a real must if your filling isn't too salty.

I'm pretty psyched about my onigiri. They were quick to make and the variations are virtually endless. And they freeze well. I brought a few to work in my bento box for lunch this week - they reheat well in the microwave or are fine eaten at room temperature. I'll definitely be making more soon.

1 comment:

MS said...

looks fantastic! yum!