Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls)

What could be more Japanese than onigiri!
It is a less fancy version of sushi maki, usually
filled with ume (Japanese pickled plums), mentaiko (spicy fish
roe), okaka (bonito flakes and soy), tarako (salty cod roe),
tuna mayonnaise and kombu (Japanese pickles). These are
great for snacks as they are healthy and filling. For this blog,
I've chosen my two favorite fillings: Ume and Mentaiko.

Makes about 8 onigiris
-  4 cups cooked Japanese rice (I use Nishiki)
- Umeboshi (Japanese plums)
- Mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
- Nori (seaweed)
- Salt

A couple of tricks to make good Japanese rice; soak your rice for a few minutes and massage a little until the water turns milky white. This removes some of the starch. Do it 2 or 3 times until the water is almost clear. Follow instructions and measurements listed on packaging. When you add your rice, give it a quick stir, put the lid on and leave it alone! I use a timer each time I make rice, this way I don't have to worry about under or over cooking it, and it always turns out perfect. 

When the rice is cooked, put it in a bowl and let cool. Grab a wooden spoon and gently fold over the rice (do not stir, you want to keep it fluffy!) while adding some salt (until you get your own perfect level of saltiness).

Now let's make our onigiris!
Grab a small handful of rice, shape it into a triangle (or ball) and make a dent in the middle. It's good to have a bowl of water nearby so you can wet your fingers (it helps with shaping the rice). Add filling of your choice. Wrap a strip of nori (a wider strip will make it much easier to eat) around the rice and you're done! It's that easy!
You can keep onigiri by wrapping it in cling film and refrigerate overnight. Zapping it in the microwave for about 30 seconds the next will day make the rice balls nice and soft again. 

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