Monday, 17 September 2012

Easy Onigiri (Rice Balls)

Super simple one here, guys. Onigiri are like a sandwich that uses rice instead of bread, and once they're wrapped up you can just take them about in your pocket as a snack or as part of a bento (lunchbox)

Here's a foolproof way to make onigiri:


  • Sushi rice (No other kind of rice. Really, this will just fall apart with anything else. Use what's leftover from making sushi)
  • Sushi vinegar
  • Nori (the seaweed that goes around sushi- you can even buy this in Tesco these days, but go to an asian supermarket for a better price)
  • Salt
  • Optional fillings- sesame seeds, umeboshi (pickled plums), tuna mayo, tinned salmon, etc...


1. Prepare sushi rice

Filthy filthy gunkwa
a) Put half the amount of rice you want to end up with in a pan. Overestimate, because you can always make onigiri (rice balls) with the leftovers

b) Wash the rice with cold water, draining each time the water gets nice and murky. This will stop us ending up with slimy rice. Do it until the water runs clear or you lose the will to live (for me, between 5 and 8 times)

c) Rest the very tip of your finger on the rice. Fill with cold water until the water in the pan reaches the first knuckle of your finger. You'll get to know exactly where is perfect with time, but this is generally pretty accurate

d) Put a (preferably clear) lid on the pan, and put it on the hob on full blast until it boils. From now on, no removing the lid until you're ready to actually do stuff with your rice
e) Once it boils, turn the hob down to its lowest setting for 10 minutes until the water has completely absorbed

f) Take it off the heat and put to one side for between 5 and 35 minutes to steam off the bottom. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID UNLESS YOU WANT TO DESTROY EVERYTHING. Prepare your fillings now.

g) When you're ready to go, lift the lid and add two tablespoons (or a slosh) of sushi vinegar, and stir your rice around

2. Prepare for action
a) Get out two little bowls. In one, put water and as much salt as will dissolve. This is your handwashing station to stop the rice from sticking to your fingers

b) Rip a nice big sheet of cling film off. Then cut it in half to make a decent sized square and lay it in the other little bowl

c) Sprinkle a little salt on the clingfilm to stop the rice from sticking to it 

d) Dip your hands in the salt water solution if you're going to use your fingers to transfer rice from pan to bowl (do this between every rice ball)

3. Make Onigiri
a) We're going to use half a cup of cooked rice for each rice ball. Put this amount aside if you need to, or just guess. Put two thirds of it in the clingfilm bowl

b) If you're going to add a filling, poke a little dent and add a teaspoon of it now

c) Put the last third of rice on top

d) Gather the cling film edges and squish the ball further into the clingfilm (like you're squeezing cottage cheese through the bottom of a sock) in order to get the airbubbles out of the rice ball (bad analogy? Nah, you get the picture)

e) With one hand flat, and one bent at 90 degrees where the fingers join, squish the ball into a rounded triangle. Use your thumb and little finger to flatten the sides. Rotate and repeat.

Happy little onigiri seemingly from the 90s

Mixing in sesame seeds makes it look adorable

f) Cut a strip of nori and wrap around the bottom as a handle

Black sesame seed onigiri on grilled asparagus and sliced bell pepper,
with feta, asparagus, sweet chilli and bell pepper salad. With more
 sesame seeds, because then they MATCH.

All packed up and ready to go.
 Plus a silly butterfly cookie


  1. Very clear instructions, thank you. You should cross post this to your bento section.

    Mrs Mills

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