Wondering what to do with that container full of perfectly good rice sitting in the fridge, untouched and forgotten? At Gewürzhaus, we are passionate about minimising food waste and ensuring every ingredient is put to good use. And when it comes to leftover rice, give it a second (mouth-watering) life by making onigiri! These rice balls are not only convenient to eat but also incredibly versatile, allowing for a wide range of creative fillings and seasonings. They will quickly become a lunch box favourite as they have been in Japan for centuries!
What are onigiri?
Onigiri, also known as rice balls, are traditionally made by shaping cooked rice into triangular or cylindrical forms and often filled with various ingredients like pickled plums, salmon, or tuna. They are a popular choice for picnics, lunches, or as a quick snack on the go and they can be found in almost all convenient stores across Japan.
How to make onigiri, the Gewürzhaus way
Step 1 – choose the right type of rice for onigiri
First, make sure you are using the right kind of rice for this recipe. For best results use short or medium grain rice like sushi rice as the grains will stick together better. Avoid long grain rice like jasmine or basmati as they will make the shaping process difficult, if not impossible. Next, let the rice stand at room temperature for a few minutes. Cold rice tends to clump together and allowing it to reach room temperature will improve its consistency and ease of handling.
Step 2 – flavouring the onigiri
Time for the best part - select and prepare your desired spices and fillings to mix into the rice! These are our favourite combinations:
Oishii Instant Ramen Blend + sweet corn + scrambled egg:
Add a burst of umami with Oishii Instant Ramen Blend. This seasoning is a fantastic combination of miso, ginger, mushrooms, kelp, and other savoury spices, infusing every bite with a delightful ramen-like essence. Mix 2 tsp of the blend through one cup of rice then gently combine one 125g can of sweet corn and minced scrambled eggs for vibrancy and a protein boost.
Black Sesame Seeds + nori seaweed:
Black sesame seeds are an excellent choice for visual appeal and a pleasing crunch. Add depth to the subtle nutty flavour by wrapping the finished onigiri with nori seaweed strips. To make this, mix 1 tbsp of Black Sesame Seeds with one cup of rice, then and brush good quality mayonnaise on the inside of the strip to help it stick to the rice.
Smoky Almond Dukkah + canned tuna:
Definitely untraditional, but nonetheless a must-try combination if you're not afraid of pushing culinary boundaries, Smoky Almond Dukkah is the way to go! Inspired by traditional Middle Eastern dukkah, the Smoky Almond Dukkah adds a delightful depth to onigiri with its mix of roasted almonds, sesame seeds, smoked paprika, red gum smoked sea salt and other aromatic spices. For a filling and satisfying snack, mix 2 tbsp of Smoky Almond Dukkah with 1 cup of rice, then make a patty shape and place a spoonful of canned tuna in the middle of it and shape it into onigiri.
Shichimi Togarashi + edamame:
Shichimi togarashi, a traditional Japanese spice blend, is a fantastic way to add some heat to your onigiri. With ingredients like chili peppers, sesame seeds, dried orange peel, and nori, it provides a vibrant and complex flavour that beautifully complements the mildness of rice. For a pop of texture and colour, mix through 1-2 tsp of the blend and some edamame with 1 cup of rice.
Step 3 – how to shape the onigiri
Once you've chosen your desired spices, it's time to shape the onigiri. Wet your hands with a bit of water to prevent the rice from sticking, and then take a handful of rice and flatten it in the palm of your hand. If adding a filling, create a small indentation in the centre and place it there. Gently fold the rice around the filling, shaping it into a triangular or cylindrical form. You can enjoy the onigiri immediately or store them in the fridge in an airtight container.