How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

If you love rice, onigiri is a must-try: a humble rice ball accented by a variety of fillings, wrapped in roasted seaweed (nori), and perfect for snacking or a light meal. Onigiri is open to customization and experimentation—fillings popular in Japan include fish roe, karaage (small pieces of fried chicken), various veggies, and grilled beef.

Below, we give three different filling options: miso salmon, spicy tuna, and umeboshi (pickled plum) dotted with furikake (a variety of Japanese seasoning mixes). You can stuff whatever your heart desires inside each ball, or, simply mix the rice with your favorite seasonings to create a super flavorful rice ball. It’s the perfect cooking project to do with the whole family.

The type of rice

Because the heart and soul of onirigi is the rice, the quality of your grain is super important here. Go with the good stuff, Japanese varieties are definitely preferred. Short grain white rice gives you the proper amount of stickiness for a cohesive rice ball. You can substitute brown rice, but I’d recommend glutinous brown rice for a better hold—the longer the grain, the looser the hold, the crumblier your rice ball will be, which is something you definitely don’t want in this application!

There are two types of starches in rice: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose content is higher in long grain rice and amylopectin content is higher in short grain rice and glutinous rice. Amylopectin is responsible for the desirable stickiness that we need for our onigiri: During the cooking process, the starch granules burst and gelatinize, creating a tackiness in the rice that is crucial to holding the signature triangular shape we want our onigiri to stay in.

Cooking the rice

Be sure to soak your rice in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. There are two ways to cook your rice. Boiling the rice directly in the pot with an almost 1:1 ratio of rice to water is the traditional method. This yields a soft, creamy, tender rice kernel that is perfect for eating straight or for forming into onigiri.

The second method, which is the one we used in our video and in the instructions below, is a much more experimental technique that’s more often used in Thai cooking to make glutinous, sticky rice: The soaked rice is placed in a steamer basket (or a fine-mesh strainer) and cooked over a pot of boiling water. Because the rice never touches the water directly, this method yields a much more al dente grain of rice: bouncier and chewier than traditional onigiri rice is. The choice is yours!

If you made your rice using the second method and find that the grains are too al dente, worry not, you can make it softer! With the rice still in the strainer, pour about 1/2 cup of boiling water evenly over the rice, then use a spoon to thoroughly stir the rice and distribute the water (any excess water will drain right into the pot below!). Clamp on the lid to your pot and bring the water to a boil again; steam the rice for another 5 minutes. With the added water content and steam action, your rice should be much softer now!

The filling

For ease, the recipe below uses canned salmon for the miso salmon mixture. You can just as well use fresh salmon! Or, if you have any leftover baked salmon, feel free to jazz that up with a little miso and use that instead. Onigiri is a great vehicle to repurpose leftovers of all kinds. Get experimental! Stuff it with pulled pork, diced garlic butter mushrooms, spicy Korean fried chicken, or super crispy bacon.

Eat as soon as possible!

Shaped by lightly salted and dampened hands, onigiri is a way to temporarily preserve rice at room temperature. It is best when eaten fresh right after shaping. To preserve the moisture in the rice for a little while longer, you can tightly wrap each rice balls individually in plastic wrap.

Rice starch tends to harden when refrigerated, which is why chilled rice always tastes starchy and chalky. If you must, onigiri can be kept in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 to 2 days. To reheat, unwrap each onigiri and sprinkle a tablespoon of water on top, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave until rice is steaming hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Let stand a minute before eating, to avoid burning yourself!)

If you’ve made this recipe, let us know down below in the comments how you liked it!

How to make onigiri

Like many of the iconic Japanese foods that we love, onigiri is a mind-blowingly simple treat that takes a bit of practice to execute perfectly. After all, who would’ve thought that combining rice, nori, and a filling could be so challenging to get right?

If you’ve never had onigiri before, you can think of them as a sushi roll’s rustic, cooked cousin. But rather than rolling up seasoned rice, raw fish, and nori in a bamboo mat, to make onigiri you’ll shape cooked rice into a ball, press in a morsel of a non-raw filling, and perhaps wrap a strip of nori around this tasty package. They’re handheld, unsophisticated, delicious meals to go, ready to pack for a cold lunch or a picnic.

Onigiri consist of just a handful of elemental ingredients: cooked rice, nori, salt, maybe some seasonings like bonito flakes or toasted sesame seeds, and a seasoned filling. Your onigiri might just involve rice, salt and a filling, with nothing else. Because the ingredient list is so minimal, using high-quality wild-caught seafood as your filling is the way to go. As with a sushi roll, you want to use seafood whose qualities will truly elevate what is an otherwise bare bones, humble combination of ingredients.

Choose Your Rice

When making onigiri, you’ll have a lot of freedom with what you use as a filling, but you’ll need to be specific when it comes to the rice that you use. It’s the most important component of onigiri.

Short-grained white rice, aka sushi rice, is ideal to use for onigiri as it’s sticky enough to hold together. If you like the nutty flavor of brown rice, you could opt to use a short-grained brown rice instead, or a mix of brown and white, though you won’t be able to pack your onigiri into as tight a shape since brown rice isn’t quite as sticky. We recommend using white rice if you’re new to making onigiri — it’ll be the easiest to work with.

Follow the cooking directions for your rice of choice, then keep it someplace warm and covered until you’re ready to work with it.

Choose Your “Wrap”

A quintessential onigiri is wrapped with a strip of nori, which contrasts beautifully against white rice while also adding texture and flavor. When shopping for nori, you have your choice of pre-toasted or untoasted sheets. Opt for pre-toasted nori to keep things simple, and then cut a sheet of it lengthwise into four strips (they’ll be about an inch or so wide) so that they’re ready to use when you’re ready to wrap.

Instead of using nori, you could also use furikake to “wrap” your rice ball when it’s finished. If you want to go this route, all you’ll need to do is have a small plate of furikake out so that you can roll your rice ball around in it to create a wrap-like layer of seasonings.

Can’t get your hands on nori or furikake? Go wrapless. The wrap part of onigiri is totally optional — though for some interest, you may want to add in some toasted sesame seeds to your rice before you roll it up into a ball.

Choose Your Filling

As for the filling, there’s really no limit to what you can use. Leftover flaked fish is a classic choice of filling, but smoked or cured bits of salmon would be nice to use too. One thing to consider, though, is that you’re only using a few morsels of seafood to fill your rice ball — so you’ll want to use something that’s adequately seasoned.

It doesn’t really matter how your seafood is seasoned, as long as you think it’ll go well with rice. Have a Moroccan-spiced halibut fillet leftover from a cookout? Or a roasted Captain’s Cut of sockeye that you seasoned with herbs de Provence? Flake those babies up and get ready to repurpose them for your onigiri. Depending on how big your onigiri are going to end up — they could be anywhere between 1/3 cup to 3/4 cup of rice — you probably won’t need more than two or three teaspoons’ worth of filling for each rice ball.

As an alternative to filling your onigiri, check out The Kitchn’s recipe, which skips the filling but mixes smoked salmon into the rice itself.

Basic Onigiri Technique

Sure, there are onigiri molds out there that will make getting the perfect shape a cinch, but the simplest, most lo-fi shape to make when you’re a onigiri beginner is a hand-formed ball. Sounds easy enough to make, right?

Well, since the onigiri rice is sticky, you won’t be able to just grab a handful of it and roll it up into a neat ball. To prevent the rice from sticking to your hands, keep a bowl of lightly salted water at your side. This will serve to add a bit of flavor to the exterior of your rice ball as well as to keep your hands moist enough that the rice won’t readily stick to them.

Fluff up your rice in its pot, adding in toasted sesame seeds or minced scallion if you like. Then while it’s still warm, scoop up about a ½ cup of rice into your palms and start forming it into a ball. You don’t want to smash the rice together by squeezing too hard. Just press the rice together firmly enough that it can hold its shape while allowing the individual grains of rice to retain their integrity.

Using one of your thumbs, make an indentation into the rice ball, then filling this space with your seafood. Close up this hole by pressing the rice together around it, packing the onigiri tightly now that it’s nearing its final form.

To complete your onigiri, apply your wrap of choice, wrapping a strip of nori around the ball like a band (you may need to press it into the rice so that it sticks) or rolling the entire ball in a coating of furikake. Add another flourish of toasted sesame seeds or even a sprinkle togarashi, take a photo of your photogenic little meal, then enjoy your homemade onigiri on its own or with a side of soy.

By reserving your monthly seafood share, you’re helping build a more sustainable food system that’s better for humans and fish alike.

How to make onigiri

Onigiri, Japanese rice triangles or Japanese rice balls with savory fillings, are great to eat on the go. This onigiri recipe provides an easy step-by-step guide for how to make onigiri at home.

How to make onigiri

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Learn How to Make Onigiri at Home

The Japanese have been making filled rice snacks since before chopsticks were invented. Called onigiri, these Japanese rice balls are an easy way to eat without utensils.

But they’re great for another reason, too: The rice preserves the savory fillings inside. And they make a great brown bag lunch.

Sometimes you’ll find actual rice balls or rice molded into cute shapes like kitties and bunny rabbits, but triangles are the most common. And no matter how you shape them, these compact wonders hide delicious surprises inside.

These onigiri are adorable, delicious self-contained meals. Less boring than a sandwich, they’re the ideal snack to take to work, to school, or to the park. Sneak them into the movies or bring them along for a long plane, train, or bus ride.

What ingredients do you need for this onigiri recipe?

You can make this onigiri recipe with just a few ingredients or you can make a large batch with a variety of fillings. It’s totally up to you. Here are the basic ingredients:

  • Japanese-style short- or medium-grain rice
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Roasted seaweed (nori) or onigiri wrappers
  • Filling or fillings of your choice

How do you make It?

This onigiri recipe is easier to prepare than it looks. The only time-consuming part is cooking the rice and letting it cool enough so that you can shape it with your hands.

  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Let the rice cool until it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Use a mold or your hands to form the rice into the traditional triangle shape, putting some of the filling in the center.
  4. When ready to serve or eat the onigiri, wrap them in the nori and enjoy them at room temperature.

What Kind of Rice Should You Use to make onigiri?

Use short- or medium-grain Japanese-style rice (japonica), which is the same type of rice used to make sushi. Other types of rice may not be starchy enough to stick together in a ball.

How to Season the Rice

Onigiri is usually made with rice seasoned only with salt. I like to make it with sushi rice, which is seasoned with salt, sugar, and rice vinegar. Yum. But according to onigiri experts, this is totally wrong and I would never suggest that anyone else should do it this way. LOL.

Whether you use plain or sushi rice, start with short or medium grain Japanese (japonica) rice and rinse it well before cooking.

How to Shape Onigiri

Shaping the onigiri may seem intimidating, but don’t fret. It’s easier than it looks. You can buy an inexpensive, easy-to-use onigiri mold. They come in fun shapes from basic triangles to flowers or assorted animals.

How to make onigiri

Tips for Success with this Onigiri Recipe

1. Use the right type of rice

Use short- or medium-grain Japanese-style (japonica) rice, the type that is used to make rice for sushi. This rice has the right amount of starch to hold together in a ball.

2. Use rice that is still warm

Cook the rice and let it cool until it is cool enough to handle. Shape and fill the rice balls. Let them cool to room temperature before wrapping in seaweed (this will keep the seaweed from immediately getting soggy.)

3. Use wet hands to shape the rice balls

Wet your hands with water to keep the rice from sticking to your hands. This will make it easier to make attractive rice balls. Keep a bowl of water on your countertop and dip your hands in as necessary to keep the rice from sticking.

4. Wrap your seaweed separately or use individually-wrapped seaweed sheets

If you plan to take it to go, wrap the seaweed separately or use individually-wrapped nori sheets. This will keep the seaweed fresh and crisp until you are ready to eat your onigiri.

What do you put inside onigiri?

From cooked salmon onigiri to onigiri filled with marinated seaweed, tempura shrimp, or even American-style tuna salad, they’re all delicious. Fill your onigiri with just about anything you like.

Suggested Fillings

The list of possible onigiri fillings is endless. Here are some suggested onigiri fillings, but let your imagination run wild.

  • Salted and baked or broiled salmon, mackerel, or other fish
  • Miso Glazed Salmon
  • Japanese pickles
  • Shrimp tempura
  • Sweet and Sour Tofu
  • Ika sansai (Japanese spicy squid salad)
  • Tuna salad (traditional or made with wasabi paste, Sriracha, or other ingredients)
  • Umeboshi (pickled plums)
  • Chicken Karaage
  • Teriyaki chicken
  • Chicken Satay
  • Seaweed salad
  • Kimchi
  • Eggs (hard-boiled with wasabi paste or scrambled with a bit of soy sauce)
  • Lox or smoked salmon and thinly sliced green onions
  • Smoked trout with wasabi paste or prepared horseradish
  • Leftover fried chicken, chopped
  • Chicken liver pate
  • Barbecued pork, diced or shredded

Can you make onigiri ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them?

I used to think that onigiri had to be made fresh and eaten the same day, but it’s not true! Onigiri can be refrigerated or even frozen! Here’s how:

  1. Wrap the onigiri (without the seaweed) tightly in plastic wrap.
  2. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  3. To serve, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. To refresh the onigiri, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 to 45 seconds.
  5. Wrap in seaweed and enjoy!

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

Okay, as promised, here’s the how-to on the on the Bonito and Shiso Onigiri we made for Fresno Ani-Jam’s annual cosplay picnic at Woodward Park on Sunday. Above is the lovely cosplayer Neeka modeling one of our rice balls at the cosplay picnic. Check out her cosplay work, she’s amazing!

First off, onigiri, (the Japanese word for “rice ball”), is a popular food in Japan made from white rice formed into triangular, oval and sometimes fanciful shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Onigiri is a mainstay of Japanese bento boxes and a favorite quick meal in our household. These little flavored rice balls are made with sushi rice and stuffed with inexpensive furikake seasonings, or any leftover meats and veggies finely minced for filling. Onigiri really is the meatloaf of Japanese cuisine and is a creative way to makes use of leftovers!

How to make onigiri

I stumbled upon onigiri when I fell madly in love with the series Fruits Basket, and have seen it in various animes and mangas since. In the Fruits Basket photo above, we actually own the original artwork watercolor background scenery used in the anime that we bought from a fine art dealer at Anime Expo years ago, and it’s currently hanging in our kitchen. So I get to look at the “original” Sohma family kitchen as I make onigiri with my handsome husband! (I’m a very spoiled nerd, I know.) Making onigiri started out as a geeky project, but now it really has become one of our favorite Japanese foods to make, and is always a guest and crowd pleaser.

How to make onigiri

So here’s what you’ll need!

Bonito filling and shiso furikake seasonings

1. Follow the directions for cooking the rice.

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

The white rice you use should be a short grained Japanese-style rice so it sticks together easily. Long grained rice tends to be drier and won’t stick together as the recipe requires. We use Botan Calrose Rice which is found in the international food isles of most grocery stores. So! Cook the rice according to package directions. Once it’s done, lightly sprinkle the rice with rice vinegar while fluffing with a wooden rice paddle or fork.

2. Prepare the nori strips.

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

There are multiple ways of wrapping nori on your onigiri, and all you have to do is check Pinterest or Google Images for some great ideas, but for the sake of expediency (c’mon, we made 5 freaking pounds of this stuff) we just went with the classic onigiri strip on the bottom, for easy gripping of the sticky rice balls. Nori, also found in the international aisle at your grocery store, usually comes in hand roll sized sheets. Use a pair of kitchen shears and cut the nori down to desired size. I usually make strips two finger widths across and as long as they need to be for the size of the onigiri mold you are using.

3. Get a small bowl of water handy for keeping your hands wet.

How to make onigiri

Before handling the rice, wet your hands thoroughly. While it won’t prevent all the grains from sticking to your hands, it will at least keep your hands from becoming COATED in rice.

4. Make your onigiri in the mold.

How to make onigiri

These little onigiri molds come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. You can find them in some oriental food markets, and you can most certainly find them for super cheap online. They’re fun, easy to use, and make some impressive looking dishes (versus using your hands for riceballs). We got our classic triangle shaped molds at Japan Town in downtown LA.

If you are going to make filled onigiri:

How to make onigiri

The first batch we made was Bonito Filled Onigiri. While you can fill onigiri with anything, it’s easiest to just buy a jar of furikake – a Japanese condiment that is meant to be sprinkled on soups and rice and used in onigiri. For our filled rice balls, we used Bonito Furikake – basically sesame seeds, sugar, salt, nori shavings, and dried bonito flakes (a Japanese fish from the tuna family) seasoned with soy sauce flavorings. (It’s Jonathan’s favorite of all the furikake mixtures we’ve tried.)

How to make onigiri

Scoop some rice into the mold till its about half full. Then make a deep crater in the rice ball, but don’t push to the point that your thumb slips to the other side. This is where your filling is going to go, so just deep enough to place things in.

Insert your fillings into the hole. Make sure that you don’t overfill it or it won’t hold together! Scoop some more rice over the hole so that all fillings are hidden. The place the lid of the mold on top, and press down firmly. If you press too lightly, the rice won’t stick together and will crumble as you eat it. Push your thumb into the mold bottom and your perfectly formed rice ball should pop right out!

For the unfilled onigiri:

How to make onigiri

The second batch we made we used Shiso Furikake – which is a mixture of dried beefsteak plant, salt and sugar. For this rice ball, simply season the rice before shaping it into the mold. And when you make the onigiri, just fill the mold and press. Simple!

5. Wrap nori around your onigiri.

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

Again, you can do whatever you want with the nori. Wrap it all around the outside. Wrap it up completely all mummy style. Give it a cute little face. Whatever. We decided to make little hand holds because we needed to mass produce these bad boys or risk running late for the picnic. (Which we did, by 20 minutes. Ugh.) I personally prefer the simple strip on the bottom, because the nori keeps your hands rice-free and keeps the rice ball in its shape, while not overwhelming the dish with too much of that seaweed flavor. The seaweed should stick to the rice with minimal pressure, since a combination of the moisture from the warm rice and the stickiness of the rice itself will make it stay put.

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

Once they’re all ready, I like to dip mine in soy sauce or sprinkle them with teriyaki sauce when it comes to nom nom time. And that’s how you make onigiri! It’s fast, simple, and the possibilities and room for creativity are endless!

Introduction: Spam Onigiri

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

How to make onigiri

Easy and fun spam recipe with in the package of an exotic japanese rice ball (Onigiri). A great recipe to make with your family, and the kids get to bring it to school the next day for lunch too!

Step 1: How to Cook Rice

Using a rice cooker:

add 2 cups of medium/short grain rice; Koshihikari is the preferred brand but any rice with medium/high starch content is okay.

rinse the rice once with water, drain, and then add 3 cups of water for 2 cups of rice.

start the rice cooker and let it cook for

Step 2: Making Sushi Rice

  • 1 table spoon sugar
  • 2 table spoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

First take the rice in to a mixing bowl and loosen it with using a spatula;

then, sprinkle in the ingredients and knead lightly, get as much air contact on to the rice as possible.

Step 3: SPAM SPAM SPAM

  • Cut a chunk of spam into think slices, and then cut the slices into threads
  • season with rosemary, cardamon, thyme and black pepper

Step 4: Onigiri

  • Wash hands thoroughly and dab with salt water
  • Scoop a generous amount of rice in one hand, hold it in palm, and squeeze with palm and fingers into a C shape. With the other hand, make a similar C shape between fingers and palm, and press down from the space between the palm and fingers of the first hand.
  • once the rice is firmly shaped into the triangular shape, press a small dent in the center of the rice with your thumb and place some spam in side.
  • Cover the dent with some more rice and another press.

Step 5: Completion

  • Cut a piece of nori about 1 inch wide and 3 1/2 inch long
  • wrap it around the bottom of the onigiri
  • Enjoy the food while being grateful for the hard work done by the planters and harvesters!

How to make onigiri

The Spruce / Qi Ai

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
835 Calories
5g Fat
153g Carbs
38g Protein

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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 835
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 43mg 14%
Sodium 650mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 153g 56%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Protein 38g
Calcium 44mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Okaka is a Japanese seasoning that is often associated with rice. It is a simple mixture of dried shaved bonito flakes gently tossed with soy sauce. The flavor can be as light or salty as you wish by simply adjusting the amount of soy sauce.

At its most basic, onigiri is a ball of steaming hot Japanese rice that’s salted and molded either by hand or using an onigiri press to form a triangle, sphere, or cylinder shape. There are countless varieties of onigiri and ways to make it. It’s one of the simplest yet most beloved Japanese foods, enjoyed by everyone from small children to adults. Quick and easy to make, onigiri keeps well and is highly portable, making it a convenient bento item. Japanese rice balls are the perfect food for a quick bite between meals or can be combined with soup and other items for a simple and filling meal.

While basic onigiri is made with plain white Japanese rice, for a healthier twist many people opt for brown rice or rice mixed with other grains, such as barley. White rice can also be cooked together with ingredients like edamame, wakame seaweed, clams, and ginger, or red beans (known as “sekihan”). It’s also possible to make onigiri with fried rice (chahan onigiri) or rice pilaf.

Okaka onigiri are dried bonito flakes (okaka, or katsuobushi) flavored rice balls. This okaka filling is seasoned with soy sauce. The recipe is simple and very quick.

A common type of onigiri is wrapped onigiri. The most common onigiri wrapper is a thin sheet of nori (dried seaweed), but other possible ingredients include takana mustard greens, ooba leaf, tororo kombu kelp, and salted lettuce.

You can also try seasoned onigiri coated in sesame seeds, ground shiso leaf, or furikake topping. Furikake is a salty Japanese seasoning made with a blend of ingredients that taste good on rice. Common furikake blends include nori seaweed and egg, ume (pickled plum), shiso, shrimp, and dried fish.

Other fillings include salmon, tuna, Umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum), Kombu (dried kelp), fish roe, shrimp, vegetable, ​and chicken.

How to make onigiri

My family loves rice. And I mean loves it. My son’s favorite dish is something we call “Rice and Goop”, which is basically rice covered in sausage or beef gravy. For me, it’s fried rice or spam musubi. My wife will take rice in just about any form, but if given a choice, she prefers onigiri.

It’s very likely that the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Japanese food is sushi, but it shouldn’t be. Rice is the main part of every meal in Japan and is so ingrained in the culture that the word “gohan” means both rice and meal. Rice IS the meal, everything else goes with the rice, not the other way around.

So it stands to reason that in a culture where rice is king, they would find a way to make it portable when on-the-go or working. Their answer is onigiri, otherwise known as omusubi, or just “rice balls”

In their most basic form, onigiri are just balls of rice pressed together and often wrapped in dried nori seaweed or perilla leaves to keep them fresh. More popular however, are stuffed (or filled) onigiri.

What can you stuff your rice balls with? Just about anything, really. Traditional onigiri are stuffed with umeboshi, a Japanese pickled plum. This both seasons the rice ball and helps to keep it fresh. But recently you’ll find recipes for onigiri stuffed with everything from cod roe, pork, shrimp, dried fish, or dressed fish. In the case of this recipe, that’s tuna dressed in mayonnaise.

Yeah, these are basically tuna sandwiches that use rice instead of bread. And it’s a good thing. A very, very good thing.

(*Note: I’m using an onigiri press here, because a. I’m not good at hand-forming onigiri and b. I’m lazy and this is faster. If you’d like to form your onigiri by hand, there’s a link to a video tutorial after the recipe.)

Let’s make some Onigiri!

First off, you’ll have to cook some short or medium grain rice. Long grain rice just isn’t sticky enough to work for this dish. But avoid buying sticky rice, which is sweet, and more for desserts than for savory foods like onigiri. I recommend Nishiki medium grain rice for this, and for just about every other rice dish I cook.

Once your rice is cooked, transfer it to a bowl and fluff it with a fork or a rice paddle. You want it to be warm, but not so hot you can’t handle it.

Next, cut a sheet or two of sushi nori into strips and set them aside. (The strips can be as wide or thin as you’d like them, or can be omitted altogether if you prefer not to use them.)

How to make onigiri

Now on to the filling! strain a small can of tuna (Oil packed, please. Let’s not be barbarians, here.) Grab some mayo and a little sweet pickle relish if you like.

Note: We’re using Japanese mayonnaise here, which is slightly sweeter than American mayo, but either will work.

How to make onigiri

Mix about a teaspoon of mayo and a teaspoon of relish into the tuna.

How to make onigiri

You want to make sure the tuna or other filling isn’t too moist, or it will cause your rice balls to fall apart. So a little drier than what I ended up with here is good.

How to make onigiri

O.K. Grab a small bowl of water, a small bowl of salt and an onigiri press. Make sure the press is damp so the rice doesn’t stick to it.

How to make onigiri

Scoop just enough rice into each side of the press to cover the bottom well.

How to make onigiri

wet your finger, dip it in the salt, and form a well in the center of each rice ball.

How to make onigiri

Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of your filling of choice into the center of each rice ball.

How to make onigiri

Then with dampened hands dipped in the salt again, add just enough rice to completely cover the top of the first layer of rice. (Note, you don’t have to fill the press all the way! Leave a little space at the top.)

How to make onigiri

Then just take the other half of the press and push firmly down. The trick here is to apply even pressure, but not enough to crush the rice or force the filling to come out the sides.

How to make onigiri

There you go, two perfectly triangular rice balls, all ready to head to the table.

How to make onigiri

Flip your press over and get them out onto your cutting board.

How to make onigiri

If you’re planning on taking your onigiri with you for lunch, stop here, wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat them. That will keep the nori from getting soggy (Which is not the most pleasant thing in the world.)

Since we’re gonna chow down on these now, go ahead and lay each rice ball out on a strip of the sushi nori you cut earlier.

How to make onigiri

Then just fold the sides up around the onigiri, and you’re ready to eat.

How to make onigiri

All that’s left is to line ’em up on a plate and dig in.

What is Onigiri?

Onigiri, also known as nigirimeshi and omusubi, is a rice ball, eaten, and served in Japan. Prepared with plain sticky rice, it is the same rice that is used to make sushi rolls. But onigiri rice is not seasoned like such rolls rice.

Onigiri is a snack or fast-food in Japan. The preparation of onigiri is straightforward and easy; anybody can make onigiri. Ingredients that you need are steamed Japanese sticky rice, halved nori sheet, onigiri fillings that you can choose from the list below to your liking, pickle, and garnish. You can serve onigiri with a bowl of soup like wakame egg soup or miso soup.

How to make Onigiri fillings

Sweet Onigiri Fillings

As you might already know that onigiri is easy to make and fun to eat. When it comes to choosing sweet onigiri fillings, there are enormous options for you to choose from. You can make dry fruit balls, and some fresh fruits like mango, avocado, boiled or baked diced sweet potato. You can use Japanese sweet milk Manju and Japanese yokken jelly.

Onigiri Seasonings

Traditionally onigiri is seasoned with salt or can be served with light soy sauce. But, today, there are many options to flavor your onigiri. There are many readymade seaweed seasonings available online and in the supermarket, as well.

To season your Onigiri, you can use furikake (a Japanese rice seasoning, available in many flavors), with roasted black sesame seeds and any seaweed flakes of your choice.

List of Best Onigiri Seasoning that you can buy

Onigiri Vegan Fillings – Vegetarian

Here are some traditional vegetarian onigiri fillings that are used in Japan, and today they are available almost everywhere in the world. You might not have heard of them before because they are Japanese, Korean, and Chinese words.

  1. Umeboshi– A Japanese plum pickle for Onigiri
  2. Natto– fermented soybeans
  3. Tofu– Fresh Soy cheese (diced and deep-fried to be used as onigiri fillings)
  4. Kimchi– Cabbage spicy and hot salad
  5. Miso– Fermented Soy Paste
  6. Takana -Japanese Vegetable Pickles
  7. Cheese – Blue cheese, California cheese, and crease cheese
  8. Vegetable Tempura – Deep fried vegetables; vegetables are cut, coated with tempura flour, dipped in tempura batter ( egg optional ), and deep-fried in sesame/vegetable oil.
  9. Asparagus
  10. Green Beans

Onigiri Chicken, Beef & Pork Fillings

Here are some of the chicken, beef, and pork onigiri fillings that you can try and might already have tested them in Asian restaurants. Especially Japanese restaurant.

  1. Tori karaage – Japanese deep-fried chicken, before frying chicken, it is seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger-garlic paste, coasted with tempura flour.
  2. Tori katsu — seasoned and iron pan-seared chicken thigh
  3. Tori Teriyaki — Chicken thigh pan-seared and cooked in teriyaki sauce (sweet and ginger flavor)
  4. Yakitori — Pan seared chicken served with Japanese Yaki sauce ( Yaki means grill)
  5. Yakiniku – Grilled beef served with Japanese Yaki sauce
  6. Tonkatsu – Pork belly is prepared seasoned with salt and pepper, coated with flour, dipped in egg batter and deep-fried – pork cutlets