What Is Onigiri

Japanese cuisine has become incredibly popular in the western world, and it is no surprise that you might be wondering – “What is onigiri?”. Stick around and learn all about this wonderful Japanese snack.

Onigiri is a rice ball covered with nori seaweed. It is popular Japanese comfort food, mainly eaten as a snack or for breakfast. One of the reasons why it is so popular is the fact that it can be stuffed with any ingredient you can think of. Additionally, preparing it requires some artistic skills, namely sculpting, so cooking can also be interesting.

A person eating onigiri in the shape of a triangle

Onigiri Is One of the Most Popular Traditional Japanese Snacks

When translated, the word “onigiri” means love and comfort, and there couldn’t be a more suitable name for this Japanese treat. Onigiri is basically seasoned rice shaped either into a ball or a triangle and covered with nori seaweed. The Japanese usually eat it as a snack or for breakfast.

This Dish Is Easy to Prepare and Requires Just a Few Ingredients

The simplicity of preparation is one of the main characteristics of this dish. The only ingredients that are required are:

  • Rice,
  • Furikake seasoning,
  • Nori seaweed.

After gathering the ingredients, you just need to perform the following simple steps.

Cook the riceThis step will require most of the time, as rice has to be washed and cooked on a stove for around fifteen minutes. Be sure to wash the rice thoroughly by pouring it into the cold and slowly stirring with your hand. Once the water becomes too murky, change it and repeat the process until no more dirt appears in the water. When it comes to the type of rice, there isn’t exactly any special type – you can use any leftover sushi rice from Walmart.
Season the riceOnce the rice has been cooked, season it. Traditionally, furikake seasoning is used. It is a blend of salt, sugar, and sesame seeds. Pour the rice into a bowl and add furikake. Slowly mix everything together.
Shape the riceThe trick is to shape the rice while it is still warm. Before you start, soak your hands in water and cover them with salt. This will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands. The traditional shapes are either a ball or a triangle.
Cover in noriFinally, once you are done with sculpting, take a nori leaf and cover your onigiri with it. Some people like to cover onigiri entirely, some partially, that is completely up to you. When served, the side with nori is always placed on the plate. As for flavor, it will add a crunchy texture and more pleasant sweetness.

A Lot of Fillings Can Be Added to Onigiri

We have shown above the recipe for the traditional onigiri, which is by itself incredibly tasty, but you can make this dish even more exciting by adding various fillings. Simply make a hole, place the filling and cover it with rice. Some of the most popular fillings are tuna and mayo, salmon, any type of fish roe, and pickled plum. However, as mentioned before, you can experiment with it as much as you like and add anything that comes to your mind. In addition, you don’t necessarily have to season the rice just with furikake. You can add any spice and even use sushi rice vinegar.

Engage Your Creativity While Preparing This Dish

One of the most beautiful things about onigiri is that you can truly feel like a sculptor while shaping the rice. If you search for onigiri shapes on the internet, you will see that there is no end to creativity. The most popular shapes are animals like pandas or cats. Of course, in order to achieve the likeness, you have to use nori to denote faces and other body parts. Another popular and easy thing to do is to create smiley faces with nori.

Onigiri served on a plate

Onigiri Is a Healthy Japanese Snack That Is Also a Great Appetizer

When it comes to Japanese fast food, people are usually limiting themselves to microwaving instant ramen, but that isn’t all that Japan has to offer. Onigiri is a tasty and healthy snack that is prepared in less than half an hour. What is more, it can serve as a great appetizer for parties as it goes great with traditional Japanese drinks like Hibiki or sake. Finally, if you find sculpting interesting, the various shapes will impress your friends.