When it comes to rice, I would rather eat noodles or anything wheat-based over it. This is funny because growing up, my family ate rice pretty much every night.
So when I’d go to AYCE (all-you-can-eat) sushi places, I would always skip the temaki sushi cones. It wasn’t until I found an onigiri mold that piqued my interest in this rice-centric food.
WHAT IS ONIGIRI
Onigiri is Japanese rice ball wrapped in seaweed. It is actually not considered sushi since it is made with plain (or lightly salted) white short-grain rice.
Sushi rice, on the other hand is seasoned with vinegar, sugar and salt.
FILLINGS IN ONIGIRI
Onigiri can be filled with pretty much anything you like. Traditional fillings include:
- pickled ume
- salted salmon
- or kombu
You can vary the fillings or make it plain.
For my version, I wanted to make Spicy Tuna.
HOW TO MAKE SPICY TUNA ONIGIRI
For the filling, you’ll need these ingredients:
- canned tuna
- sriracha (or hot sauce)
- red pepper flakes
- green onions
You’ll also need these ingredients to assemble the onigiri:
- cooked short-grained rice
- sesame seeds/furikake
- nori seaweed
- avocado (optional), but I love the creaminess it adds
I used canned tuna since I knew I would be feeding it to the kids, but you can use sushi-grade tuna or any other type of fish.
I also like my spicy tuna on the *spicy* side, so I’ve added red pepper flakes and green onions for a little more punch.
Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning that contains seaweed, sesame seeds, bonito flakes, salt and sugar.
FUN SHAPE FOR THE KIDS (AND ME!)
Now you’re probably wondering why is a girl who doesn’t eat much rice talking about onigiri?
Essentially, I made it for the kids to see if they would eat a rice ball in the shape of a triangle.
My kids were intrigued by the shape and enjoyed the rice. Plus, I discovered that I love making (and eating) these, much to the amusement of my husband!
ONIGIRI TRAVELS WELL
The great thing about these spicy tuna onigiri is that you can make them ahead of time and stick them in the fridge.
Not only it is super portable, but it makes for an easy and healthy meal. Pack a couple to go and you’ve made lunch.
I love the textural contrasts in this simple humble parcel. The warm, sticky unseasoned rice, with the slightly creamy yet flaky spicy tuna, accentuated with the crunch of exterior coating of sesame seeds. One bite and you’ll see why this is a staple in Japanese cuisine.
Maybe there is hope for this rice-avoider afterall.
Let me know if you try out this tuna onigiri recipe. Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment below.
Spicy Tuna Onigiri
- onigiri mold (optional)
- 3 C hot/warm cooked short-grained rice
- 1 can tuna drained
- 2 Tbsp sriracha or hot sauce
- 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 Tbsp green onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp chili pepper flakes optional
- 1 avocado sliced
- 12 x 1 " nori seaweed strips
- furikake Japanese seasoning
- sesame seeds
- Combine tuna, hot sauce, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, green onion, lemon juice and pepper flakes into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Place into the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 1 hour. (The longer it sits, the more flavourful the tuna will be).
- When ready to assemble, using an onigiri mold, add about 1 heaping Tbsp of warm rice to the mold, press down lightly with a spoon.
- Add 1 Tbsp of spicy tuna filling over top of the rice.
- Finish by adding another 1 Tbsp of rice on top of the filling to encase it. Press the mold firmly to retain the shape of the rice ball.
- Open the mold and remove the onigiri.
- Dip the exterior of the onigiri into some sesame seeds and furikake if you wish, and wrap it with a piece of nori.
Be sure to use hot/warm rice as cooled rice will not stick together well.