Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Round and Square Onigiri

My husband has just returned from Japan, he asked me what I wanted and I said umeboshi (Japanese pickles plums), because they are difficult to find here in New Zealand. And because I had a craving for onigiri! Now, onigiri are often called rice balls, but the fact is that in Japan (and overseas) I mostly see triangular onigiri. Somehow I really like the round ones though, they look like the rice balls Kintaro's mum made for him (with a ume inside) in the story book I read to my children when they were small. They somehow feel... traditional? Funny for me to say that, since I am not Japanese :-)

To make the rice balls cook some Japanese (or sushi) rice (rinse it first, if it is suitable for sushi it will still stick even if you rinse it) and then start working it when it is still warm. Wet your hands with water, and rub them with just a little salt, then shape the balls with your palms, sticking a whole ume in the middle while you are working. Ready!

If you like you can add some nori seaweed, it tastes great and it is useful to hold your onigiri (which is eaten with your hands, like an apple). Of course I had to make some little faces for the kids!

My husband was very nice bringing me umeboshi, but while I can eat ume onigiri all day long, he gets 'tired'... he wants something more! And since I don't put salmon or other fish in it, I made some square egg onigiri. OK, square is not traditional at all, but I liked the idea. The egg is just scrambled egg with a drop of soy sauce, made in a pan (add a little oil to start with) and cooked until it becomes quite dry. I lined a box with grease proof paper, then place half of the scrambled eggs in the bottom. Then half of the rice, then the rest of the scrambled eggs, and then covered it with a final layer of rice.

Press down well and let it cool down completely.

Tip the box over and there you are, some square egg onigiri ready to be cut. I have to say that he preferred this one! Me? I don't know... I think I still like the ume best, but I must say, this was actually very nice and effective, and I will be making it again!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. these rice balls look familiar. very creative with the garnish :)

  2. My dad used to meke round onigiris as big as my head for school lunches - the shame! I've grown to love them though ;P

  3. what perfect cocktail food Alessandra! I love the square ones too! :D

  4. Geeeee Sasa, soon you can tell me about all your embarrassing bento memories!

  5. Lovely onigir..wish to taste some!

  6. Thank you Kothiyavunu, and Happy Diwali :-)

  7. Umeboshi??? Wow...It is so rare to find any foreigners like umeboshi... Of course I love it too. I made lots this year, so I can send some to you if you like!


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