Onigiri is such a funny word, I like to say it. Onigiri onigiri onigiri. I’m sure it isn’t that fun for normal people. Perhaps I’m just a little tired today.
I made onigiri a while back to take with me when I went for a day-long Red Cross event. I thought it was too exciting and cute a packed lunch to keep to myself until I made it again. It begged not to be hidden in drafts for that long, bouncing up and down on its springy rice bottom, imploring to be set free. Well onigiri, here you have your wish.
Onigiri with Tuna
You can really fill these with anything that’s relatively dry, and savoury. If you use a filling that’s too wet then the onigiri won’t hold its shape so well. Also, note that these freeze well and can keep for up to a week in the fridge. Eat them within the day if you take them out with you!
Guided by various pages on Just Hungry.
Sushi rice – 2 rice cups
Sushi vinegar – a quarter of a cup
Water – 2 and a quarter rice cups
Canned tuna – one can
Soya sauce – about two teaspoons, more if you like it a little stronger
Chilli flakes – half a teaspoon
Warm water – bearably hot, you need to use the salty water to mold the onigiri
- Rinse the rice 3 times, by swilling water around in a bowl with the rice and then draining the water.
- Rub the grains together with your hands, as if scrubbing them. Then rinse with water.
- Drain in a sieve for about 30 minutes. I skipped this, but don’t as your rice will suffer for it.
- Put the rice in a rice cooker with the water, let it sit for about half an hour then turn on the rice cooker. I didn’t let it set for more than 5 minutes because I’m an impatient person, but for best results you should wait.
- Once the rice is done, mix in the sushi vinegar with a spatula. Try to fold it in as you would do to cake batter, and don’t squish the rice grains if you can help it.
Do this while your rice is cooking. You need your rice to be hot when you shape your onigiri, or it won’t work.
- Drain the tuna. Flake it well with a fork.
- Mix in a couple of teaspoons of soya sauce, and chilli flakes.
- Taste, if you think it isn’t salty enough add a little more soya sauce.
It’s onigiri-making time!
- Wash your hands. And again. And under the nails too.
- Mix the warm water with a generous helping of salt. It should be salty like the sea. You don’t need a whole lot of water.
- Dip your hands in the salty water, make sure they are pretty damp. This stops the rice sticking to your hands.
- Grab a handful of rice, the size that you want your onigiri to be. Don’t make them too large or they won’t hold themselves together so well. About the amount that fits in a rice cup should be fine.
- Make an indentation in the middle of the rice. Hollow it out a bit with your thumb, then spoon in the tuna filling.
- Wrap the rice around the filling to make a ball, adding a bit more rice on top of the filling if you need to.
- To make the triangular shape, cup your hand so your thumb and the rest of your fingers forms a right angle, then push the onigiri into your (still wet and salty) palm to form the corner. Repeat for all three corners.
You can either stop here, or add a wrapper of seaweed, or sprinkle on some sesame seed-seaweed mix (you can get this at Japanese food shops). Don’t wrap them with seaweed until you want to eat them, or the seaweed’ll get soggy. No one likes soggy seaweed.
Or, you can grill them!
- Mix equal parts soya sauce and sesame oil (about a tablespoon each will do quite a few onigiri).
- Toast your onigiri on both sides in a hot, non-stick pan for a few minutes. You don’t need any oil for this.
- Brush on the soya sauce-sesame oil mixture.
Enjoy! They have a nice crunchy outer layer, and are extra tasty because of the soya sauce-sesame oil coating. Don’t forget to wrap your onigiri friends tightly in plastic wrap to keep them in shape and prevent them from drying out too much.
Any clues to the plural of onigiri? Onigiris? Onigirii?