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. I find that every time I have some sort of sticky (glutinous) rice, I would fill up really easily, leaving no room for the other goodies.
I recently came across an onigiri mold at Daiso and was intrigued. I had never had onigiri before, but it sounded interesting.
Onigiri is basically a humble rice ball, wrapped in seaweed. It is made with plain white short-grain rice, rather than sushi rice which is seasoned with vinegar, sugar and salt. It can be filled with pretty much anything you like.
Now you’re probably wondering why is a girl who doesn’t eat much rice talking about onigiri? Well essentially, I made it for the kids to see if they would eat a rice ball in the shape of a triangle. The kids were intrigued by the shape and enjoyed the rice, and I discovered that I love making (and eating) these, much to the amusement of my husband!
The great thing about these 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 got lunch made.
You can vary the fillings or make it plain. Here, I’ve used one of my favourite fillings: spicy tuna. I used canned tuna since I knew I would be feeding it to the kids, but of course, you can use sushi-grade tuna or any other type of fish. I also like my tuna on the spicy side, so I’ve added green onions for a little more punch.
I love the textural contrasts in this simple humble parcel. The warm, sticky unseasoned rice, with the slightly creamy yet flaky 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.
Spicy Tuna Onigiri
3 C hot/warm cooked short-grained rice
1 can tuna, drained
2 T sriracha or hot sauce
1 T mayo
salt and pepper to taste
3 T green onion, finely chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
2 T chili pepper flakes (optional)
6 x 1 ” nori seaweed strips
furikake (Japanese seasoning)
onigiri mold (optional)
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 T of warm rice to the mold, press down lightly with a spoon.
Add 1 T of spicy tuna filling over top of the rice.
Finish by adding another 1 T 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.
Note: Depending on the size of your mold, you may need to adjust how much filling and rice you need.
Note: Be sure to use hot/warm rice as cooled rice will not stick together well.