Onigiri (rice balls)

A plate of different kinds of onigiri

[Update:] Be sure to check out my easier, neater way to make onigiri!

[Another update:] See all kinds of onigiri on my new bento-only site, Just Bento.

[Yet another update:] Before asking a general question about onigiri, please check out the Onigiri FAQ page. Chances are your answer is already there! Have a question about what kind of rice to use? See Looking at different types of rice.

Onigiri are rice balls, usually with a tasty filling. They are very portable, and therefore are very popular for carry-along lunches. Part of their appeal lies in the fact that if you're Japanese, you just love the taste of rice. It's genetic. [Edit: another word for onigiri is omusubi. I guess it just depends on what word you grew up with. In our house it was always onigiri.]

Onigiri can stand on their own, or be part of a bento or boxed lunch. (For some reason it's never just called "nigiri", though bento is also called obento, which is the honorific term.) Onigiri are also a great make-ahead snack for a crowd, since with the appropriate fillings they keep rather well. I remember my aunt making 12-cups of rice worth of onigiri at a time for the large family gatherings at New Year's or Obon (August festival to pay respect to our ancestors). Her hands would be bright red from the heat of the rice. She favored salted salmon (shio zake) as the filling usually - very salty salmon in fact.

Onigiri is also one of my top comfort foods. It reminds me of the ones my mother used to make for me for school outings (ensoku) as well as countless school lunches. When we stayed at my grandmother's and my cousines and I would take trips to the Chichibu mountain area, my aunt would make huge rice balls to assuage our appetites. There's a comforting feeling of continuity with history too, because Japanese travelers have sustained themselves on those salty rice balls for hundreds of years.

Like obento boxed lunches, onigiri can be elaborate creations, but the simple versions the are best in my opinion. We often bring some onigiri with us on long train trips: it's a lot better than buying the overpriced sandwich buns from the vending carts. Yes, sometimes people look at us curiously as we bite into those soccer-ball colored balls. We don't care one bit.

While I was working on writing up this entry, I came across this post by Mimi Ito . Japanese people have a lot of emotional attachment to obento, and to onigiri too.

Classic Onigiri

For 4 fair sized rice balls, you need:

  • 4 cups of freshly cooked Japanese-style rice (What kind of rice can you use? See Looking at different types of rice. No, you cannot use long-grain, jasmine, basmati, or Uncle Ben's.)
  • 2 sheets of nori seaweed, cut into 3cm/2 inch wide strips
  • Salt
  • Fillings. Some classic fillings are pickled plum (umeboshi), bonito flakes just moistened with soy sauce (okaka), bonito flakes mixed with pickled plum (umekaka), flaked cooked salted salmon (shake or shiozake), cooked salty cod roe (tarako), chopped up pickles (tsukemono), and tsukudani, various tidbits - bonito cubes, tiny clams, etc. - cooked and preserved in a strong soy-sugar-sauce. Some non-traditional fillings that work well are described below.

The key to making good onigiri is to have freshly cooked, hot rice. You can't make good onigiri with cold rice.

Wet your impeccably clean hands with cold water, and sprinkle them with salt. Take 1/4th of the rice and place on one hand. Make a dent in the middle of the rice with your other hand. Put in about 1 tsp or so worth of filling in the dent.

Working rapidly, wrap the rice around the filling, and form into a ball. To make the traditional triangular shape, cup your hand sharply to form each corner, and keep turning it until you are happy with the shape. Practive makes perfect.

Wrap the rice ball with 1-2 strips of nori seaweed.

Repeat for the rest of the rice.

To bring along on picnic, wrap in plastic film or in a bamboo leaf (which is traditional). Some people prefer to carry the nori strips separately, and to wrap them around the onigiri when eating, to preserve the crisp texture of the seaweed.

If it's hard to get a hold of the traditional fillings, here are some non-traditional ones that I have tried that work well. However, unlike the more traditional fillings (especially umeboshi) these fillings are quite perishable, so be careful in hot weather if you are taking them for a picnic. Any rather strongly flavored, salty filling should work.

  • Ground meat (pork or beef or a mixture), cooked with grated or chopped ginger, then flavored with soy sauce, some red pepper flakes, sake or mirin, and sugar. It should be quite dry. Curry flavored ground meat mixture works surprisingly well too.
  • Canned tuna, well drained and flaked, flavored with a bit of soy sauce and/or salt to taste.
  • Flaked corned beef
  • Chopped up western style pickles (as long as they don't have too much garlic in the brine), well squeezed to get rid of excessive moisture

For a fairly well-rounded picnic lunch that can all be eaten without utensils, add hard-boiled eggs (with a twist of salt) or cold barbeque chicken or skewered chicken (yakitori), an apple or orange, and vegetable sticks (carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber sticks).

Before asking a general question about onigiri, please check out the Onigiri FAQ page. Chances are your answer is already there!

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Onigiri (rice balls)

I've been reading your blog for a few weeks but never ventured into the archives. Then yesterday I had my first omusubi at a restaurant here in NYC called Oms/b. I loved it and I was looking for information on how to make it, when I realized right in my bookmarks was a great resource.

And look, an entry on onigiri right here. Thank you. Just to clarify, the rice is just the plain rice from your other recipe, not the sushi rice?

Chris Shieh | 31 December, 2003 - 19:24

Onigiri (rice balls)

You're very welcome and thanks for stopping by my site!

Yes, you use basic non-flavored rice for onigiri. (Actually when Japanese people say "sushi", they mean anything that uses sushi rice, not necessarily the sushi with piece of fish on top.)

maki | 1 January, 2004 - 22:07

Onigiri (rice balls)

That clears it up... I think we have a lot of things backwards from the way they are... as I heard that sake is more about the sake than the food (that you the food is the accompaniment for the drink, rather than vice versa).

Meanwhile, everyone in Oms/b thinks I am Japanese...

Chris Shieh | 2 January, 2004 - 18:09

Onigiri (rice balls)

Oh, my link died. What I meant was that they speak Japanese to me even when I indicate my ignorance!

Chris Shieh | 2 January, 2004 - 18:11

Onigiri (rice balls)

Chris yep i saw that entry in your blog and laughed (i wanted to leave a comment but couldn't see where to). I've had stuff like that happen a lot too, especially living here in Switzerland for some reason...Chinese people assume I am Chinese, etc. I hate the see the look of disappointment when I have to say I don't speak Mandarin (or Korean, or whatever they assume I do... hehe)

maki | 3 January, 2004 - 03:18

Onigiri (rice balls)

Happened to find your site via TypePad, and became hooked! I have quite an obsession with food myself, and reading your posts (especially those about washoku) make me drool!

I have an onigiri recipe linked to my site, but I don't think it's nearly as good as yours in its explanation. It's been quite a while since I've had one, so my memory of its preparation was rather vague.

I enjoy reading your blog-- thanks for making it available!

yoko | 6 January, 2004 - 22:38

Onigiri (rice balls)

Yoko, it's funny because I had an ochazuke recipe in my drafts - and there you have ochazuke on your blog too! I hope you like that recipe too (I published it now). I enjoyed reading your word lists.

- imo-neechan maki :P

maki | 7 January, 2004 - 05:43

Onigiri (rice balls)

konnichiwa~
Watashiwa Miyuki Sohma desu!
hajimemashite...=^^=
Onigiri wa oishii~
jaa ne~
going to a picnic...guess mai job~ i make neko and nezumi onigiris~

Miyuki-chan | 20 February, 2004 - 19:42

Onigiri (rice balls)

Hi ^.^!!!
i was looking for the recipe, and i found it here, ill make 'em tomorrow, my sisters will be very happy, they always wanted to eat Onigiris ^^!! thanks!!

Neko-Chan | 12 April, 2004 - 22:53

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Neko-Chan wrote:

Hi ^.^!!!
i was looking for the recipe, and i found it here, ill make 'em tomorrow, my sisters will be very happy, they always wanted to eat Onigiris ^^!! thanks!!

anon. | 26 September, 2012 - 03:54

Onigiri (rice balls)

hehe cool im gonna make some now!!^_^

megs | 14 April, 2004 - 23:17

Onigiri (rice balls)

Domo arigatou goezaimasu!

Nice recipe! I plan to pick up the ingredients later today, perhaps to make them in time for my party Sunday. Thanks!

Shiranai | 20 December, 2004 - 21:23

Onigiri (rice balls)

i'm makeing rice balls for my mothers day apetizer. i have always wanted to make them.

kusanagigirl | 7 May, 2005 - 16:31

Onigiri (rice balls)

arigatou!!!!!!^^ i've always wanted to know the recipe for onigiri!!! the weird thing is i'm asian (cambodian/chinese/japanese) and i have never even seen an onigiri before!!!!! i've searched all around the internet for the recipe and i finally found your website! your rice balls do look perfect!^^ even though i'm only 11 i'll try to make them myself;i have all the ingredients in my house!!!!arigatou gozaimasu!!!!(i speak some jap)

tahni | 28 September, 2005 - 01:01

Onigiri (rice balls)

also for the rice can use sticky rice?

marco_p | 9 April, 2006 - 18:49

Onigiri (rice balls)

Arigatou!
I have had a bit of trouble in my family deciding what to use as fillings, but reading what you said here gave us many new ideas! Oh, and one good filling that you might try is olives. It was in a cookbook I have. Just chop up the olives and mix it in with the rice. Anyway, I've always wanted to make onigiri (I'm facinated with the Japenese culture), but never got around to it. You really helped.
どうもありがとう、まきさん

Nilld | 3 July, 2006 - 06:02

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

11 huh? Well thats inspiring! Im 12, and its nice to find someone else my age whos into Japanese stuff! :) I thought it was only adults. :P

Mwiah | 24 December, 2009 - 13:50

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I'm 12 and facinated with the japanese culture, too! My friend and I both are. In fact, we're having a sleepover soon and we're gonna make origini and watch anime. Then we're gonna practice our Japanese. We are even going to dress up; me as a Japanese school girl, her as a geisha.

Akia | 18 February, 2010 - 00:36

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I am 12 as well and I love Japanese culture. I love to wear kimonos! I have a bright red one! I love Neri Ame! (Although it gets on my clothes....) And I'm going to make these Onigiri!!!!!!! I think it's kinda cool that other people my age are also fascinated in the Japanese culture!!!( I'm not suprised though..) So, Arigatou for this recipe!! :D

Chiyoko | 15 May, 2011 - 18:11

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I'm 12 and facinated with the japanese culture, too! My friend and I both are. In fact, we're having a sleepover soon and we're gonna make origini and watch anime. Then we're gonna practice our Japanese. We are even going to dress up; me as a Japanese school girl, her as a geisha.

Akia | 18 February, 2010 - 00:36

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

No way, Im 12 too! Im fascinated in Japanese culture, too!!! :D
I have blonde hair and blue eyes so even if I tried looking like im a school girl from Japan, IT WOULD NEVER WORK!! I wished I were in Japan then stuck in the boring culture, AMERICAN! lol! But, yeah I sometimes get jealous who ever are Japanese because they are pretty!
When Im on a mission (Im LDS) I would love to go to Japan!!! :) Its my wish!!!
Im IN LOVE WITH ANIME! So, when Im older and I graduate I would love to go to Temple University because they say at that, that college your able to learn Japanese, Learn most of the culture, and will be able to illurstrate Anime books all over the world. :)
I love anime and fell in love with it since 3rd grade and now im a pro at make anime, realistic anime, manga, chibi, and etc... When your in the Temple University, when you graduate from that college you will be able to visit Japan just with a paper slip from that university saying that your a member of Japan now!!! But, to get in this college you'll have to have tons of A's they will only except people who graduated with only the bests grades! Well, Im going to make some rice balls, PEACE!!!!!
your friend,
Alanna! :)

alanna | 8 January, 2013 - 06:41

Onigiri (rice balls)

Whoa, wonderful recipes! They all look so delicious! I am going to make some Onigiri soon...even though I am not Japanese I would love to see Japan and visit everything there. I love everything about Japan! (esp. the food! ^_^)
Great job, and keep it up!

Kellie | 23 June, 2004 - 22:55

Onigiri (rice balls)

I learned to make rice balls when my husband and I lived in Japan while he was in the Air Force. I always made them with canned tuna. We like them chilled and eat them with hot vegetable soup.

Jerry | 22 December, 2004 - 23:03

Onigiri (rice balls)

Uhmm I'm 12 and I have no pickle plums, I was wondering if I could use something else.

anime_rena | 15 May, 2005 - 01:47

Onigiri (rice balls)

I went to Japan this past summer and had my first taste of Onigiri while looking for a snack at Kansai International Airport on my way out of Japan. IT WAS THE BEST PORTABLE SNACK FOOD EVER! Even though it was cold, it was delicious. It was also genius the plastic wrapping job they have you undue that keeps the seaweed apart from the rice ball and it was delicious to eat. I have been looking for the name of that food since I got back to Vancouver (Canada) and I stumbled upon your website with the recipe. Thanks so much for posting this and making it available to everyone!

Miranda | 10 October, 2005 - 08:41

Onigiri (rice balls)

For all you folks who are having a hard time finding Japanese ingredients, just remember, the Internet loves you and wants you to be happy! (And also spend money.)

http://www.ethnicgrocer.com/

http://www.koamart.com/

roxann | 15 April, 2006 - 05:12

Onigiri (rice balls)

i have all ways wanted to try rice balls but a lot of the fillings don't really please that much but they sound really good. i love the anima fruits basket i hope i can make it like them.

matt hayes | 8 November, 2006 - 03:14

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Omg, I love fruits basket to! That's how I heard bout rice balls! I'm gonna cook some later tonight! Yay lol

KyoLuver | 1 December, 2010 - 22:28

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

i like to put in canned salmon (drained of course) or tuna. or another thing u can try is a small piece of barbequed meat. (i love lamb and goat 0.0)

*_ans_* | 7 August, 2012 - 01:37

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

i like to put in canned salmon (drained of course) or tuna. or another thing u can try is a small piece of barbequed meat. (i love lamb and goat 0.0)

*_ans_* | 7 August, 2012 - 01:38

Onigiri (rice balls)

Oh! I have always wanted to try onigiri!
My Uncle lived in Japan ofr 10 years and told me he loved it!
I have been intrested in the culture for awhile (really the anime! ^-^)
Thank you for the recipe! I can now make it for my birthday party coming up!
Or...Arigatou!!(I know a little bit of japanese)

Tohru-chan | 9 July, 2004 - 19:40

Onigiri (rice balls)

._. Wow.. your onigiri looks.. PERFECT.. T___T i made it funny looking lol.. -___-;;

Misao | 4 January, 2005 - 05:15

Onigiri (rice balls)

rena, you may want to try some of the non-traditional fillings listed. The easiest is probably very well drained tuna, seasoned with a little soy sauce.

maki | 15 May, 2005 - 19:53

Onigiri (rice balls)

I liked the list of non-traditional ingredients, I first started making Onigiri, when I heard about it in a manga, called Fruits Basket. My firt one was triangluar, but I soon sound it easeir to make them round. I tried with some polish sausage, i do not recommend this. lol. So far, tuna and pickles seems to be the best taste for me, and I normally wrap the nori completely around till the whole onigiri is covers. I have a hard time finding any umeboshi in the us, even online. We have an anime club at school, and I made some and took it to them, I can not tell you how amazed they were at these! Very delicious! I also use Jasmine Rice instead of white rice, it has a different flavor, but doesnt tend to stick as well, so I press harder. lol. Try it out sometime!

Tabitha | 4 December, 2005 - 09:22

Onigiri (rice balls)

Uwaaaa I was looking for onigiri stuffs and I happened across this *_*! I luv onigiri (I keep trying to get my boss to get me some when he goes to lunch ahaha) but I never knew what more 'american' things I could put inside since I loatheeeeee umeboshi >x

I'm going to have to try the tuna and pickles though! Actually the pickles in onigiri sounds kind of weirdly appetizing! XD

yoru | 19 April, 2006 - 01:40

Onigiri (rice balls)

I have very fond memories of onigiri when I lived in Japan: After blowing six or seven thousand yen ($60 - $70) at the clubs in Roppongi, all you have okane left for in the morning is the train ticket home, a can of hot Morinaga coffee and a couple of 7-11 onigiri. I actually prefer the convenience store onigiri to home-made... sad, huh?

Because onigiri is cheap and perishable, the only place you would ever really know about it or find it routinely is in Asia... Korean and Japanese convenience stores have an ever-changing variety of onigiri flavors (and other yummy snacks). Because of its short shelf life you'll never be able to order it over the internet, until some enterprising Japanese manufacturer decides to start exporting it, or making it here in the US. Even then, it's only really good when fresh (off the shelf).

The best rule of thumb when making onigiri is that it is a snack of convenience: use what you like and what you have on hand. Vegetarian onigiri is -totally- possible! A filling that is neither very oily nor too wet is best, because rice cannot stick if the filling is too greasy. To ensure a crispy nori wrapping, apply it last, since dry seaweed drinks up all available moisture and becomes soggy, while simultaneously making your rice dry. Wrapping your rice balls in plastic is perfectly fine for transporting or overnight storage, and keeps the rice fairly moist (unwrapped rice dries out very quickly in the refrigerator).

Finally, if you would like to try to make a traditional onigiri, you can order umeboshi (pickled plum) or tsubozuke (pickled radish) over the internet. Both make nice, salty fillings for onigiri. To ensure that the onigiri is a convenient snack, you might want to throw an onigiri party, where everyone pitches in to make two or three of their own onigiri using a shared pot of rice, shared nori seaweed and shared fillings/toppings.

Tora | 16 November, 2006 - 23:33
anon. | 23 August, 2008 - 07:34

Onigiri (rice balls)

Yes, I got the idea from Fruits Basket... but I want to make onigiri, so here I am! I don't understand... can you use plain white rice and a filling or what?

Hatori-san | 31 January, 2009 - 02:11

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

You may want to read through the Onigiri FAQ, which should answer all your onigiri questions.

maki | 31 January, 2009 - 07:55

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

igot the idea from FRuits Basket too, such a good anime btw
and yea, i think you could basiclly use anything you want to fill it up with, but make sure you put some nori (seaweed) around it.

anon. | 22 April, 2009 - 05:00

Onigiri (rice balls)

hey thanks verry much for the recipies. I looked a lot of places but i just couldn't find anyplace that didn't have fish or plumbs for the filling. I'm allergic to fish and my sis can't eat plumbs (can't or won't). Thank you verry much for these wonderful recipies. They are very good.

Trinks | 7 August, 2004 - 06:39

Onigiri (rice balls)

I agree with Misao, your onigiri does look PERFECT. I just read your recipe and it describes it really well. I'm asian (vietnamese) so I have lots of rice in my home. I'm only 12, but I can still take a crack at making my own onigiri. I first found an onigiri in an anime i watched (i'm a HUGE otaku). by the way, that black paper thing on ur onigiri, is that the seaweed or somethin? somebody please clue me in!

Stephanie | 4 February, 2005 - 02:01

Onigiri (rice balls)

*sniff* I dont have that either, but i have soy sauce

anime_rena | 15 May, 2005 - 22:51

Onigiri (rice balls)

i realy want to try onigiri and i'm inviting all of my friends to try too...
but i have too problens:
1. one of my frinds is vegeterin
2. i want to make it with chicken but i dont know how

maya | 24 January, 2006 - 20:56

Onigiri (rice balls)

Ground meat (pork or beef or a mixture), cooked with grated or chopped ginger, then flavored with soy sauce, some red pepper flakes, sake or mirin, and sugar.
umm...could you give more detail maybe how much of each and what temp. to cook it at.
the onigiri sounds soo good

yuki | 22 April, 2006 - 21:35

Onigiri (rice balls)

I think I have found a way to keep them in the fridge (at least for a day, then use them for lunch). Wrap them in waxpaper when they're still warm (do NOT use mayo filling for this type) and put them into sealed zip-lock sammich baggies. It seems to keep them decently fresh and the rice is still semi-gooey/chewy goodness. You have to make them when they're pretty HOT to make this work, apparently the steam/nori-cover/waxpaper makes the nori stick more to the rice and less to the plastic.

[I just caution against mayo/semi-cooked stuffings as you seal the buggers warm and they may make a nice bacteria home if not refridgerated promptly and properly.]

I'd like to know of some better sauces/bitter or salty fillings (vinegar or non-fishsauce for bitter please, my kid's apparently picky about this but will eat fisheggs. Hmmph.) Or what sort of pickle things to have with them?

Moussajinx | 12 January, 2007 - 00:07

the black thing is nori -

the black thing is nori - dried seaweed

and I found that I can put anything in my onigiri. (I especially like tuna salads. Yes, I know it has mayo in it, butI refrigerate it right away)

terrism21 | 16 April, 2007 - 04:15

it is seaweed called nori

it is seaweed called nori

anon. | 22 May, 2008 - 04:18

it is seaweed called nori

it is seaweed called nori

anon. | 22 May, 2008 - 04:18

Onigiri (rice balls)

O_O I love you... Im gonna try this out sometime with chicken. =D!!

Megs | 10 August, 2004 - 22:35

Onigiri (rice balls)

It says in the recipe "nori" strips, which is dried sea weed.^___^;; you can get it at any big supermarket in the asian section.

kAnDi KiDd | 8 February, 2005 - 01:00

Onigiri (rice balls)

really nice! it worked great for my little shop i have in the summer! i also own a n anime shop in town, and it made a great snack for all of the kids who come in and out! thanx bunchezzz!!!^_^

Angie | 30 May, 2005 - 20:20

Onigiri (rice balls)

maya, if you want to stick to traditional Japanese fillings, pickled plum and any kind of pickled vegetables would be great for vegetarian onigiri. You can also try regular (western) pickles finely chopped with the moisture squeezed out a bit - I think the rather stronger flavored non-sweet pickles would do well.

Chicken as onigiri filling... well I think you could make tiny chicken pieces sauteed with some soy sauce as filling.

maki | 26 January, 2006 - 05:37

Onigiri (rice balls)

onigiri is so cool, when I first saw it in anime I didn't know what it was. Hey got any other suggestions for fillings, other than the ones listed? It would be so cool if you could...like.. put jelly in it or somethin' (I like sweet stuff)

Kyo | 5 May, 2006 - 19:12

Onigiri (rice balls)

Thank you for the nice recipe. Finally i have a good recipe for onigiri. I live in Norway you see and it was a hell of a job to get umeboshi. But i found a store who sells them now! (^_^)

Arrigato Gozaimashta!

Marcus-san | 22 January, 2007 - 00:57
sano | 24 September, 2004 - 02:46

Onigiri (rice balls)

cool! im gunna make um ^.^

kent | 10 February, 2005 - 23:37

Onigiri (rice balls)

excellent job! my shop has been blazing w/ customers. if you ever get any new ones send me some! my shop is a great success now. thanks again!!!!!

anime_yume | 30 May, 2005 - 20:22

Onigiri (rice balls)

wonderful recipe, thanks a lot.

cas | 1 February, 2006 - 16:34

Onigiri (rice balls)

I like cats, kitties are yummie :-B. Can I make it with Kitties

mugin | 5 May, 2006 - 19:19

Onigiri (rice balls)

I LOVE onigiri! My friend from Japan showed me how to make them recently, and they make a great lunch. I found out the hard way that they don't refrigerate well, so making them the day you plan to eat them is crucial -- unless you crave dry rice.

Something I like in my onigiri is chopped, homemade kyuuri pickles (lots of salt overnight, then rinse well and soak about an hour in rice vinegar). Chopped takuan is good, also.

Great website!

stanggirl | 27 October, 2004 - 08:08

Onigiri (rice balls)

I love onigiri! Thanx for the recipe! ^_^

Amy | 25 February, 2005 - 01:15

Onigiri (rice balls)

Well, in a small Japanese shop in London (I've yet to find anywhere in Southern Spain with decent supplies :/) I picked up an 18g bag of "Ume Nameshi" ... it's dried, um, plum, sesame seeds and I don't know what else. :)

The photograph (which is why I bought it) shows gorgeous rice triangles (clearly onigiri in terms of shape) with red and green dots, i.e. it looks to me like it's just the rice mixed in with the "Ume Nameshi" and formed.

A similar image is at the bottom of the page here: http://www.mishima.co.jp/products/business/dry/mazegohan.html

My Japanese isn't good enough any more to even attempt the instructions, but having rushed to your site for hints, this seems to be what I want to be making.

Will try it without filling first I guess but if you have heard of this stuff and have any tips I'd really appreciate it. ;)

sylvia | 27 June, 2005 - 14:05

Onigiri (rice balls)

Hi Maki,

Thanks so much for the recipie. I tried it last night because I had people over and my guests were very happy-- but at the end of the night I had 6 left over and I put them on a plate in the fridge. In the morning now [the next day] they taste a bit funny\hard.

It may be a common-sense question, but is there a proper way to store onigiri for later use? Do you wrap them in something?

Thanks,

-Michael

Michael | 12 February, 2006 - 19:19

Onigiri (rice balls)

and puppies, I like puppies too,.....Yum, puppies %-)

mugin | 5 May, 2006 - 19:22

Onigiri (rice balls)

Ano... is it ok if I don't use seaweed? it's hard to find any good ones here. the onigiri will still be delicious without seaweed, nee?

yuu-chan | 12 November, 2004 - 02:37

Onigiri (rice balls)

Thank you, I love making onigiri and I was looking for different filling suggestions (since it's hard to get umeboshi here!) I love your blog! keep it up!

Geneviève | 4 March, 2005 - 01:04

Onigiri (rice balls)

Sylvia, I'm not familiar with "Ume Nameshi" itself, but if it's like the packets featured on that page, it's a type of something called furikake. Furikake is basically dried or semi-dried little savory bits - can be nori seaweed, dried umeboshi, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, etc - and it's usually eaten by sprinkling it on to plain white rice and mixing it in. It's usually quite salty, so go easy on it and add more as you taste. You can mix it in well and then form rice balls from the mix too.

maki | 27 June, 2005 - 19:53

Onigiri (rice balls)

Michael, the best way to store onigiri is to wrap them in plastic wrap, preferably without the nori on them. You can then briefly heat them up in the microwave if you like.

Another way to deal with day old onigiri is to put them into an ochazuke
(see this page: www.justhungry.com/2004/01/ochazuke_rice_w.html instead of plain rice - again, heat them up a bit in the microwave beforehand.

maki | 12 February, 2006 - 20:20

Onigiri (rice balls)

I was researching what kind of things to put in obento, and I came across your site. I made some onigiri and now I'm hooked! I can't wait to try other fillings! (I didn't have tuna, so I ended up using immitation crab - it turned out well to an unexperienced eater).

Thanks!

Skye | 21 June, 2006 - 05:50

onigiri rice balls

zomfgg. lyke, thx so much!

kiomi kotobuki | 9 March, 2007 - 23:52

Onigiri (rice balls)

BANZAI! You posted an onigiri recipe! Thank you sooo much! I used to have a recipe, from an old Highlights for kids magazine, but I could never find it. I'm happy I found this page ^^ Ano... I guess we probably DON'T have to use seaweed... I don't even know if I have any. I'm gonna need to bring my lunch to school more often just so I can have onigiri everyday now XD

Kaori Akayama | 24 November, 2004 - 07:01

Onigiri (rice balls)

I just tried these out today...the first onigiri I've ever had, and I made it myself. Couldn't find any nori, but I'm sure it's at the asian store on the corner. Tried one warm after making them, and it was beautiful. Tell you how the cold ones turn out later.

Oh, I used Tuna in brine, well drained, and flavoured with soy. later I want to try some warm ones (either eaten after making or reheated) with sweet and sour chicken in them. ^^

Ledi | 29 March, 2005 - 06:57

Onigiri (rice balls)

Maki, thanks so much for your comment. I do use furikake (mainly seaweed and sesame seeds in what I have) to sprinkle on top of rice, so it gave me an idea what to expect. I made the onigiri without filling (although the triangles eluded me) to get the full flavour of the packet I bought and they were a hit. Thanks again!

sylvia | 27 June, 2005 - 22:20

Onigiri (rice balls)

Hi my names Brieana and I was wondering. I can't seem to find any of the seaweed, but is it possible for me to make onigiri without it. Also is it okay to use pie filling. I once heard peach pie filing is suposed to be good. One last question. Can I use white rice?

Brieana | 28 February, 2006 - 03:52

Onigiri (rice balls)

for anyone looking for a non-traditional filling, try this recipe. it's a tweaked version of a filling for chicken wonton.

12 oz. chopped cooked chicken - 1 tbs. soy sauce - 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger - 1 garlic clove, crushed - 2 tsp. sherry or chicken broth - 1 or 2 spring onions, chopped - 1 tsp. sesame oil - mix all together and enjoy!

kenjikitten | 25 June, 2006 - 02:33

Onigiri (rice balls)

I wanted to know if any kind of fruit like apple etc. can be added into onigiri

suki | 5 December, 2004 - 03:09

Onigiri (rice balls)

I couldn't seem to find any onigiri at my local asian stores, so I decided to look for a recipe online and came to yours. Just to say, I tried it for the first time and it's wonderful! I really have to make this stuff often.

Akimika | 19 April, 2005 - 06:58

Onigiri (rice balls)

I tried this at home and thought it was great! =) Though the shape of mine came out very awkward. I'm taking a cooking class in school at this time that deals with trying to prepare and enjoy foods from around the world. After having tried it for myself I decided to bring the idea into the classroom to see what everyone else thought. It was a big hit! Everyone loved it especialy the teacher who took secondes! Thanks again and keep up the great work ^_^

Janell | 25 September, 2005 - 04:38

Onigiri (rice balls)

hey i cant find any seaweed places here in Utah
if anyone knows any stores then please tell me
oh and can we use something different for the seaweed? like a substitute?

marco_p | 9 April, 2006 - 18:28

Onigiri (rice balls)

That sounds delicious kenjikitten. I'll give it a try next time I make onigiri!

maki | 26 June, 2006 - 11:35

This was fun. =D I decided

This was fun. =D

I decided to experiment with this recipe. I’ve been recently getting quite into Japanese food (I’m loving miso soup!), so I figured I should learn to make Onigiri, too — so that I can put in my packed lunch for going to University (because buying food on campus can be kind of expensive. XD; ) along with a sachet of miso soup paste.

I made two balls just to experiment. They’re currently sitting in my fridge, wrapped in clingfilm. It was so much fun to make and I’m very proud of my first attempts. XD

I also used your other recipe for making easier onigiri (saran wrap in a cup or bowl) as a guide while making them. I didn’t have saran wrap, so I used cling film. It burst a little on my first ball, so I put some extra clingfilm around it to hold in place while making the triangular shape. I found while making a second ball that if you just double up your clingfilm before use, it doesn’t burst. =)

Thank you for posting this. I had so much fun making the Onigiri. I’m looking forward to eating them. =)

~Fif

Fiona | 23 February, 2007 - 21:36

Glutinous Rice

I knoew this is probably the rong place 2 put this but, i tried glutinous brown rice and it wa reli gross. They looked cute, but gross. So everyone, NEVER USE BROWN GLUTINOUS RICE FOR ONIGIRI!!!!!!!!!! Stick to short grainde white. Just htought ud lik to know….
^^ Another Asian Person..

Tare Panda | 4 March, 2007 - 23:05

brown rice onigiri

Brown rice onigiri can be good, if the rice itself is cooked right. (how to cook brown rice) If you’re talking about very glutinous rice (mochi-mai) they might not make the best onigiri…they are a bit too sticky. Though some people do like steamed rice balls made with sticky rice - e.g. the steamed rice in lotus leaves you get at some dim sum places, or chimaki (steamed rice made in wrapped up bamboo leaves) are made from sticky glutinous rice.

maki | 5 March, 2007 - 01:13

Onigiri (rice balls)

Hey! Watashi wa Eida desu. Juroku sei (sai?) desu. Onigiri wa totemo oishii desu!!! I just went to Japan this last summer and picked up some on the last day for breakfast at a konbini down the street, and I loved it( I just wish I had picked some up at our school festival as well!)!! I also had some home made ones from a neighbor at the beginning of my stay there. They were soo good!!! I believe the one from the konbini was a chicken one. Great breakfast food (and cheap too!! ^^). Now every time I see a convenience store in the States, I wish they were selling onigiri. TT I’ve tried my hand at making onigiri for family and friends a couple of times, but I have never used any fillings, just sesame seeds (black and white), and some furikake. Thanks for the tips on everything else(storing them as well)!! I have to bring some in to class on Wednesday, so I was desperate to find out a way to transport them. Arigatou!!!! (Onigiri will always remind me of the wonderful time I had with my host family in Japan, so domo arigatou gozaimasu maki-san for all the help!!) :)

Eida | 19 March, 2007 - 21:52

Hi there!

I chanced upon your site and enjoyed your humour… (No offense if that is not your intention!) I’m planning a Japanese-themed picnic soon and am thankful for the simpler onigiri recipe you put up. I will try it and feedback to you, if I have any. Thank you! :)

xy | 15 April, 2007 - 13:02

Fantastic!

In the past few years, I’ve really started enjoying Japanese food. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make onigiri for a while now and I stumbled upon this.

Thank Goodness! I’m having onigiri tonight!

Thresher | 4 May, 2007 - 23:46

Can anyone tell me?

Well can i use things like salmon and shrimp? Also, from what i’ve read im pretty sure im going to have to make them the morning of the day i bring them to school. I think i will be in that class by atleast 10, so do you think that if i make them around 5-6 ish in the morning they will still be moist by that time? What can help? Please tell! ^__^

E mail me at pPygmyfFay [at] aim [dot] com

Melanie | 5 May, 2007 - 19:24

plastic

You can keep onigiri moist enough by wrapping them well in plastic wrap while still a bit warm, then wrapping again in aluminum foil. They should be fine at lunch time. They’ll even last until dinner that way.

maki | 6 May, 2007 - 02:01

onigiri

I’m still mourning the closing of the Toraya tea shop on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. They had amazing, addictive, soy-sauce glazed onigiri.

anon. | 18 May, 2007 - 20:16
anon. | 28 May, 2007 - 12:12

try the plastic wrap method

If you’ve never made onigiri before, I would recommend first trying the plastic wrap method - follow the link, that article has step-by-step photos which should explain things.

maki | 28 May, 2007 - 13:11

Actually I’ve made some

Actually I’ve made some with some sweet things for snacks.

I found out that cream cheese, is great for it!

Specially if you get the different kinds, like the mixed berry. Its a real good late night snack.

Also I like rolling the rice in my hands with cinnamon, and sometimes a pinch or two of sugar, depending on what I’m going to put in as a filling.

One time my friend put chocolate in hers. It was pretty good but very sticky when the rice cooled down. :)

Kelsey | 10 July, 2007 - 09:55

Thanks For The Recipe!

Thanks so much for the onigiri recipe! I made it for a potluck lunch and everyone loved it! They made me promise to make it again at the next lunch! ^^ Mine weren’t as perfectly shaped as yours, and my hands were stinging and deep red when I was done with the rice, but it was worth it! Thanks!

Btw, I used the tuna filling. It was delicious…but I really wish I had an Asian Market that sold umeboshi. The Japanese market that I usually shopped in had closed down and so I used the tuna. Is there another filling I oculd get at ANY Asian Market? Thanks and please reply soon! I’ll be checking back here later!

THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Leslie | 15 July, 2007 - 22:05

maybe the easiest filling

Maybe the easiest filling that is quite traditional is salted and grilled salmon that’s flaked. You can buy a regular fresh (raw) salmon filet, that are quite thin, then salt them very well on both sides, and leave in the fridge overnight wrapped in paper towels (not plastic, since you want some moisture to evaporate. Fresh fish will not make your fridge smelly btw.) The next day, when you make your onigiri, grill the salmon and flake to make the filling.

Umeboshi and katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) are available at any Japanese (and most Korean) markets but not necessarily at a generic Asian market.

maki | 16 July, 2007 - 21:02

hey I just made and ate them

hey I just made and ate them (with canned tuna)
thank you so much for this recipe i have always wanted to eat this ever since i saw it on tv (i was 6 orr something)
but i come from holland and i know what umeboshi means in english but i don’t under stand what the english means in dutch…
I’m from holland and i understand what the fruit is but pickled?
is it dried or like salted to dry it?
and what does bonito flakes and cod roe mean?
also the pickles you talk about you mean those in jars with sourish water in it right?
Sorry for the stupid questiond normally my english isnt this bad but i just dont know much about food in english

Strawberry | 7 October, 2007 - 16:37

wrapping onigiri

Wrapping onigiri is not required. See this article about alternate ways with onigiri. Beef jerky? I never thought of it, but if it’s flexible and thin enough I guess you could try it - give it a go!

maki | 14 November, 2007 - 10:40

Domo!!!

I love this website it taught me something new and i appreciate it. ^_^ keep up the good work.

I have a question If you microwave an onigiri will it do anything i might nto want it to do..? (such as explode or lose taste etc…) I would really like to know this.

Domo Arigatoo.

Yukio | 6 February, 2008 - 22:17

microwave

you can nuke an onigiri that’s not frozen for a couple of minutes, well wrapped in plastic wrap, to warm it up. If you don’t wrap it up securely it may dry out and get hard.

maki | 6 February, 2008 - 22:22

Thank You!!!!

Domo Arigatoo Gozaimasu. How long should it be in the microwave though..? Im attempting two or three minutes is that a good idea…?

Yukio | 7 February, 2008 - 21:57

For a single, unfrozen

For a single, unfrozen onigiri, start with just 30 seconds and see how it goes. Under-nuking is better than over-nuking! It depends on the size of the onigiri, the wattage of your microwave, and so on.

maki | 8 February, 2008 - 22:26

This looks like a fun

This looks like a fun alternative snack or comfort food and I’d really love to have a try at making it but I’m having trouble finding the ingredients, in particular the rice (yes I’m hopeless).

Anyone know of a reasonably priced market place or shop for these kind of things in Birmingham UK or somewhere nearby in the midlands? I’d heard onigiri is cheap and convenient but so far all I’ve had the luck to find was Nori, and that was about £5 for a few sheets.

Any help greatly appreciated(heres hoping someone in the UK more knowledgeable than me frequents this site :D).

Matthew | 14 February, 2008 - 03:00

Matthew, take a look atthis

Matthew, take a look atthis page which lists UK Japanese and East Asian groceries. For Birmingham it looks like you need to go to Chinatown - the Korean grocery may be your best bet, but try the Chinese groceries too. Good luck!

maki | 14 February, 2008 - 11:18

onigiri

I love making onigiri with my grandma because Im a really big fan of the Japanese culture, but I was wondering could I put jelly in my onigiri?

momo | 24 February, 2008 - 19:39

Onigiri

I just found your website. My kids love onigiri, we fill ours with lightly sweetened scrambled eggs flavored with a touch of soy sauce.

Karen | 28 February, 2008 - 23:25

thank you!

i have been looking on how to make onigiri EVERYWHERE! and this makes it super easy! now i can make them for my friends!

kasumi | 12 April, 2008 - 18:01

Onrigi

Another fun/cheap thing to do is to press the rice into small cookie cutters… even my one year old likes them that way!

Stregalunae | 8 May, 2008 - 05:25

Western fillings

Two fillings that i have had good success with (meaning: they were eaten by other people and requested again) were:

-strong green olives, not the kind with pimento, cut up and either used alone or mixed with tinned salmon

-hot peppers.

The hot peppers were an idea after a wasabi-tuna mixture was well received. This has proven to be a excellent way to get my friends to start liking rice!

anon. | 24 June, 2008 - 00:45

onigiri (rice balls)

hehe cool!! i love rice so this seems interesting! hmmm i think ill make some soon =) quick question though: is there any other foods that can b used as a filling? im only 14 so im not a big fan of fish, olives, that kinda stuff ^_^

a reply would b awesome!

anon. | 12 July, 2008 - 20:20

There are some suggestions

There are some suggestions in this article, also check out the all kinds of onigiri article (near the bottom are some suggestions for non-traditional fillings, plus more in the comments).

maki | 14 July, 2008 - 07:03

Onigiri!

Hi! i am really interested in making onigigr.i see it all the time in anime X] and so i finally found a website with a recipe for it. so i thank you for having this site up XD

mandy-chan | 16 July, 2008 - 19:38

Thanks for the recipe

Thanks very much for the recipe! I recently had some health troubles and have been looking into moving to a slightly more Japanese style diet.

I just wanted to let people know- if you don’t like seafood fillings, you can try a little shredded chicken or pork mixed with a bit of soy sauce or sesame-oil with a bit of salt, and that tastes pretty good. Mixing in some finely diced bean sprouts or bok choy is good too.

Sherri | 21 July, 2008 - 17:37

Another tip

Me again.

I’ve also found that if you want to make small, bite-sized square ones, using an ice-cube tray is handy. Put the rice in the bottom and some filling, then put rice around and heaped above the filling and use your thumbs to pack it down. You can easily make a bunch of small ones at one time this way, and won’t burn your hand. If it’s sticking, try putting plastic wrap or rub salt water in first.

Sherri | 21 July, 2008 - 17:45

thanks for the tip Sherri!

thanks for the tip Sherri!

maki | 22 July, 2008 - 03:58

Shapes/Molds

I want to make onigiri for my 4 year old’s lunch. Where can I get cute shaped molds? I looked at Ebay, but wasn’t sure of the quality (outcome of the onigiri) when I saw some bunny and other little character ones. Is it harder to release the form if it’s a design other than the simple shapes of triangle, circle, and cylinder?

Many thanks in advance.

MozzarElla | 22 July, 2008 - 02:12

Most onigiri molds are made

Most onigiri molds are made for very easy release of the contents. The ones with handles are the easiest to use. Take a look at this article on JustBento (our sister site, in case you hadn’t seen it yet) where I make cute animal shaped onigiri. I used a set from J-List, which is a great source for all kinds of bento making supplies (they have several other onigiri shapers besides the Hello Kitty set).

maki | 22 July, 2008 - 04:04

Thank you for the swift

Thank you for the swift reply. I appreciate the info on colored rice for onigiri— so nice that the colors are naturally derived. I’ll do some shopping for onigiri molds on Jlist.
Thank you for having a healthy, informative, and entertaining website!

MozzarElla | 22 July, 2008 - 07:27

Sounds familiar!

Hmm, it’s funny, I actually had this in Japan, and here in Guam too, but I didn’t think of any relation to these rice balls my aunts and grandmas used to make when I was a kid until I saw this post! Perhaps because I’ve only had them triangle shaped? Anyway, these rice balls I had were slightly different, in that they were bigger than onigiri, but only just big enough to hold in your hand, and the filling in the ones I had always consisted of just this Chinese/Taiwanese, shredded, dried pork.

I’m not sure if it’s a Chinese food in general, or if it’s just a Taiwanese snack influenced by Japanese cuisine, b/c I also remember my aunt making (and I never knew the name of it then, but discovered it to be a Japanese food on another blog recently as well) mochi with kinako! I was actually really happy to discover what kinako was, since I’ve really missed these foods for a while.

Anyway, that’s kind of off topic, but I’ll probably be buying some onigiri tomorrow now! =)

Jacqueline | 23 July, 2008 - 15:05

Onigiri are yum!!

im making theese for a cosplayers picnic for all my furuba fan-friends. lawl. just wondering if i can use sweet fillings instead of savoury? ty!!
domo arigatou!!

annie-may chaplin | 21 August, 2008 - 23:26

What I use...

This page has been quite helpful.

That being said, I’m something of an anomaly here… I like onigiri, but I haven’t been making the “Stuffed” kind. Rather, I like to use some form of furikake and stir it into the rice, sort of a seasoned ball if you will.

I’ve become especially fond of something called Oomuriya Omusubi Tei Umino Megumi, which is a pouch containing four pouches of various flaky stuff for mising into the rice. One sub-pouch flavors and preserves 160 G of rice, enough to make two small onigiri (Which is what they seem to be shooting for). You get one bonito flavored packet, one cod-roe, and two salmon.

Don’t suppose Maki-san — or anyone else— can tell me what Oomuriya Omusubi Tei Umino Megumi means in eigo? ^_^

Robert Haynie | 25 August, 2008 - 22:28

Oomuriya Omusubi Tei -

Oomuriya Omusubi Tei - Oomuriya (name) Rice Ball House (Omusubi is the alternate name for onigiri)

Umino Megumi - Gift from the Sea

I guess it has lots of good sea things in it!

maki | 2 September, 2008 - 03:29

Thank you!

I tried making onigiri for the first time today. I was quite scared at first since I’m not that skilled in cooking and I might mess up with the rice. But I think everything went well. I plan to make more for my younger brother next time. Thanks for the recipe! ^_^

Chel | 31 August, 2008 - 18:39

Can anyone tell me what

Can anyone tell me what pickled plums or umeboshi taste like?

Allie | 2 September, 2008 - 09:49

They are very sour and

They are very sour and salty….an acquired taste, though once acquired, rather addictive!

maki | 4 September, 2008 - 13:53

Onigiri (rice balls)

Thanks for this recipe!! I’ve watched a lot of Japanese movies namely Akiro Kurosawa.. and whenever I saw rice balls being eaten, my mouth watered like crazy!! I’ve experimented with rice trying to make them..but sadly it was no avail… Now I am going to make them ALL THE TIME!!!!

Go yang ee | 4 September, 2008 - 01:04

Onigiri

I tried making these just two days ago and liked them so much I had to look them up on the net.
I’ve tried smoked salmon and okaka, and I think I’m almost addicted to okaka filling.
I’ve made a batch for my lunch and snacks tomorrow, consisting of okaka, smoked salmon+shoga and tuna/sesame oil/chili paste/soy sauce/wasabi.
The tuna mix sounds like bit of a mishmash, but tastes quite fine.
Also, I’d like to share a tip with you all.
When forming triangular onigiri, i use the fingertips on both hands to try to form a corner, then turn and do it again.
Works fast for me ;)

Togu | 11 September, 2008 - 23:09

onigiri/musubi

Can you believe in Hawaii we put fried spam inside and sometimes scrambled eggs? They are super popular here and are called spam musubi. They are shaped like a rectangle and you can buy molds in the proper shape to form them easily. Not the healthiest, but they are delicious!

Kimi-chan | 14 September, 2008 - 10:26

very grateful

thank you so much for your detailed explanations on how to make onigiri. I laughed at your reference to Fruits Basket too. I knew abt onigiri long before Furuba and their onigiri motif in Furuba just seemed natural to me lol. I have never tried to make onigiri but now I def want to. my biggest task will be finding the correct rice. Its going to be very hard where I live, we dont have any of the stores ppl mentioned in their comments and everyone here rly just uses long grain parboiled rice. but I will search! I am determined to make and eat and enjoy my own onigiri ^_^ thanks again.

sakura | 29 September, 2008 - 07:49

Fried Tofu and Miso Onigiri

We just posted a recipe for Fried Tofu and Miso onigiri (http://www.kitchen-witch.com/2008/11/onigiri-with-fried-tofu-miso-and-gi...) on our blog.

We love your recipe too, I’ll be linking to it from our post.

KitchenWitch | 21 November, 2008 - 04:57

Onigiri

What a great recipe! I love the peas in the picture - just looking at them is making me hungry!

We—the Warlock and I—posted about onigiri recently, too, so I’ve linked to this, too.

The Kitchen Witch | 13 December, 2008 - 21:08

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I was wondering if it was okay to use Jasmine rice?

Kan | 22 April, 2009 - 18:03

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

No it isn't - you may want to take a look at the onigiri FAQ page.

maki | 22 April, 2009 - 22:27

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

is it okay if I dont use japanese rice?because im in philippines,.thanks..^_^..

kamira furuta | 1 June, 2009 - 08:11

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

What are some non-traditional vegetarian fillings? I can make the onigiri just fine, but I am never sure what to fill them with. Traditional fillings are hard to get a hold of for me, and I'd rather make my own fillings than order them. Plus, I'm vegetarian (not necessarily vegan.) Does anyone have any ideas? Maki-san? I've heard of avocado...
Please respond,
Onegai shimasu!

Kyandasu | 19 July, 2009 - 01:53

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Kyandasu wrote:

What are some non-traditional vegetarian fillings? I can make the onigiri just fine, but I am never sure what to fill them with. Traditional fillings are hard to get a hold of for me, and I'd rather make my own fillings than order them. Plus, I'm vegetarian (not necessarily vegan.) Does anyone have any ideas? Maki-san? I've heard of avocado...
Please respond,
Onegai shimasu!

Hello Kyandasu!
Why not come over to the Bento forums and post your question there?
I'm sure lots of people will have ideas for you. To get you started - if you search around the Justbento & Justhungry sites there are recipes for 'kinpira'. Most of the vegetables that can be made into kinpira can be chopped up into onigiri fillings.
There's Maki's carrot furikake recipe: http://justbento.com/handbook/johbisai/homemade-furikake-no-2-carrot-and...
And this recipe I posted for dried mushrooms:
"soak 20 shiitake mushrooms overnight, stir fry the drained shiitake for 5 minutes on a high flame and then cook those mushrooms over a very, very low flame with 120mls of the soaking liquid, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and just under a tablespoon of caster sugar until all the liquid has been absorbed. You can then drizzle over a little sesame oil - optional. They last for a week in the fridge and can be chopped or sliced to make an onigiri filling"

Loretta | 28 July, 2009 - 11:04

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Thanks for the suggestions! That helped a lot, actually.

Kyandasu | 9 August, 2009 - 05:25

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Sweetness! Thanks for posting this! I thought it'd be much harder to make these! Now that I see how easy and maybe even quick they are to prepare, I think I could actually prepare these to take with me when I leave out in the morning before I go to school! I haven't made any yet, but I can't wait to start. I'll finally have a good snack to eat at lunch every once in a while instead of the usual unpleasant lunches they sell (which, might I add,they think it to be very acceptable to use multi-purpose cheese dip every stinking day). Ugh...
I am not Japanese (to my knowledge) but I take an interest in manga and anime. I found that a lot of people found out about Onigiri through Fruit's Basket, but oddly enough, I found out about it through the comic Naruto (among other foods). Anyway, great explanation! I'll be sure to try it.

Torta | 7 August, 2009 - 04:48

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

They go very well with homemade Buffalo chicken O_o

Dennis Perkins | 10 August, 2009 - 16:53

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

"Part of their appeal lies in the fact that if you're Japanese, you just love the taste of rice"

Then i must be half japanese (thou i live in Sweden), i have always loved rice!
And onigiris are wonderfull, i make them alot.
I would be so happy if i could find Onigiris in the stores here, would be fun to just sit on the bus and eat an onigiri, people would stare, just as you say ^^

I´m gonna sawe this recipe and make alot of Onigiris, thanks alot for writing it down!

Baka Neko | 15 August, 2009 - 06:47

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Hi! I was wondering if I could get pre-made umeboshi at a Japanese food store, like in chinatown perhaps... Thanks:P

thebiganimefan | 12 September, 2009 - 15:50

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

whoops can't believe I forgot to say Chinatown NY thanks... again!!

thebiganimefan | 12 September, 2009 - 15:58

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

There are no Japanese food stores in Chinatown. Umeboshi is generally not found in Chinese grocery stores, though there may be exceptions. Here is a list of stores in the NY area.

maki | 12 September, 2009 - 16:16

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Great article!

Avocado actually makes a good filling for onigiri, too. I use one of those melon scoop things (name?) to make a little ball of avocado, and roll that in sea salt. It's too delicious. :)

jess | 18 September, 2009 - 04:02

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

when i cook long grain rice, it comes out the same stickiness as the short grain rice used for sushi. i dont need to mash up the rice or anything to get it sticky. can I still use it for onigiri? and if I can or cant, whats the difference?
thanks!!!!

joe. | 3 October, 2009 - 21:12

Best Onigiri Ever!

I've always wanted to try Onigiri and after i saw this page i got up and made some straight awesome. They're awesome! What's the best type of Onigiri you've ever had??

Daniel | 21 October, 2009 - 05:18

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Thank you for the WONDERFULL instructions~ I tried making them today, and it worked like a charm due to your walkthroughs. :3
Though mine had octopus and avacado in them, instead of the traditional stuff; it turned out wonderful, though, and I plan on making more and experimenting with the fillers. Thanks again for the recipe!

Kittan | 29 October, 2009 - 03:54

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

i never understood onigiri cause i thought it was just rice balls and i never could understand why plain rice balls would be delicious or something to look forward to. but thanks for explaining your free recipes of what goes in an inigiri.

Jen | 29 January, 2010 - 17:58

Definition of umeboshi

Hello from Finland,

I love your sites, JustHungry and JustBento! I'mma try cooking the rice and making onigiri based on your "handbook", wish me luck! ;)

I wanted to commment about umeboshi, so called "pickled plums." Isn't a better translation "japanese apricots", because they are not really plums? Why can't it be translated "pickled apricots"? Sounds way more delicious in my ears. :D

Thank you very much for the great sites, I am deffo a regular visitor.

Hikari | 31 January, 2010 - 00:38

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

could you use spam as a onigiri filling?

melah | 6 February, 2010 - 03:01

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I love how you made your Onigiri. I love the kitty. ^^
I live in the crappy state of Indiana and we don't have any down here T_T. They look so good.
I looked almost at every dish you've made and they are amazing. ^^ Japanese food is my favorite food. I just found your site and I love it.
I'm gonna start trying to cook Japanese food. I just hope it comes out as good as yours looks. ^_^

Nikki_Chan | 4 April, 2010 - 02:17

Fusion way of making onigiri

When I moved away from home (I live in Europe, Finland) my dad got me a rice cooker of all things. So after buying a 5 kilo sack of rice from an oriental food store I did my sushi, more sushi, perfected my technique... and got thoroughly tired of it. Onigiri was my next victim.

Now the thing is, I´m over sensitive to most soaps and washing detergents so usually when I play around with rice I don´t bother washing my hands, I just use thin vinyl gloves or a combination of thin cotton gloves and vinyl ones.
Turned out I get the full molding possibilities of the traditional onigiri making method(hot salty palms), with the heat protection of the plastic wrap method! The most unusual shape I´ve managed to make this far was a chubby but recognizable horse that actually stood upright (standard salmon filling though, no horse meat :D )

miniboo | 10 May, 2010 - 00:55

Seaweed

Hello, I bought toasted seaweed from the store. I am wondering, do I have to get it wet before I wrap the rice ball? Also is toasted seaweed that different from nori seaweed? Thanks!

Aren | 3 August, 2010 - 11:46

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Wonderful. I'd never had, nor made, these, but I'm fascinated by bento boxes. So, minus the nori, my first shot: http://www.whatiate.net/meals/64/

Delicious. Thank you!

Diana. | 15 August, 2010 - 02:57

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Just finished making them, they look great :) waiting for them to cool down enough for me to try one...
Do you usually eat them just cooled down or chilled?

Petra | 3 September, 2010 - 23:02

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Never, ever ever chilled! Chilled rice is awful. Room temperature is fine, and warm onigiri are delicious.

maki | 4 September, 2010 - 08:38

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

My first onigiri:
http://pics.livejournal.com/soljarka/pic/0003kdec
They are filled with homemade salmon flakes. It is hard to find mirin and sake in my country, so i used "Blue Dragon" teriyaki for flakes.
Result: very tasty, and my beloved girl is happy!
Thanks for your useful articles and tips:)

soljarka | 5 September, 2010 - 21:58

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Hello, thank you so much for this, I'd never heard of having rice (which I love) this way! I'm vegan and I can see these becoming a lunchbox staple :-)

I do have one question- if using the traditional method, does the rice have to be hot-hot or can I wait until it's cooled down a bit? I find using plastic anything with hot food just leaves a plasticky taste. Would waiting until the rice is just the hot side of warm, but comfortable to handle, affect the flavour or stick-togetherness of these?

Imogen | 24 April, 2011 - 12:22

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

The rice should be as hot as you can stand to handle or it will not stick together properly. Please take a look at the Onigiri FAQ page.

maki | 24 April, 2011 - 16:34

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I am very excited to use this recipe but i too am having trouble finding the right ingredients. I live in Ottawa Ontario, and have found a few places but they dont seem to have the right things. If someone could help me out with finding a place or market that will have the things i will need it would be greatly appreciated! :]

~Kawaii

Kawaii | 24 June, 2011 - 20:04

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

This recipe I accidentally came across. I live in isolated reservation(north of canada) so theirs short supply and expensive. Rice is one of the less expensive and lot of it. I can't use the original recipe I have to make alternatives and I used my traditional methods. I only made with the original once. it was good!

Thank you

Cameron | 27 June, 2011 - 18:19

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I firs saw onigiri in some Japanese cartoon in early '90, and I was completelly fascinated by that strange rice triangle. See, I'm italian and we don't have anything similar ("Algae? How can anyone eat ALGAE?!?"). Then years passed by and I started cooking and browsing other people food. I discovered Japanese food at restaurant, but I never find onigiri the way I saw them in those cartoon when I was six.
Till I land up your site.
So: thank you!
I've just finished preparing my first four onigiri and I had a lot of fun cooking them :) Moreover, they look exactly how I dreamt them in my childhood.

My compliments for the clarity and the very good description of the recipes.

val

valentina | 28 June, 2011 - 22:58

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I was away for an exchange programme for a few months and my japanese friends got us all making japanese omusubis. I was completely hooked, they tasted so good and making them was a real joy!

My boyfriend and I have been making them ever since I came home (your website was so helpful!) and we always have so much fun with it. I've put together a box and called it the omusubi kit, I'm going to give it him later on! I bought some cute plastic wraps, sachets of furikake, tiny seasoning bottles, rice molds and adorable nori punches.

Thank you so much for putting together the onigiri recipe and all the other lovely ideas! :)

Cheryl | 25 July, 2011 - 05:21

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Well, I'm a little confused. I've made rice balls that turn out fine with Jasmine rice. I soak the rice for ages (An hour or two) before cooking it, which seems to only take about 10 minutes rather than 20. The rice still holds it's shape and every thing but make pretty balls/triangles/weird oblong shapes of rice. I've never had any problems with it getting too mushy, am I just magic? Haha.

anon. | 26 August, 2011 - 18:16

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

My one issue is when to make the Onigiri. Do you follow through with the entire resting period of the resting of the rice or skip half of it o.O?

Also, when I see cup, I think mug. Ten giant sized onigiri later... a video might be really helpful. It is interesting to note that the rice balls still fall apart later after cooking/storing for a while. Not heavily as such but I'm not sure how much compression is needed.

Video clips regarding making the triangle ones might be useful...although maybe my hands are just really odd shaped. I'm not interested in using plastic, as I'm on a budget...getting the rice was tricky enough T_T;

I used Tuna Mayonnaise for my fillings and I might make some Yaki next time. Is there a follow up recipe for Daifuku or is it fuki..o.O it's a rice ball sweet.

KChildheart | 16 December, 2011 - 19:15

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

i`ve read about what u said over there and i got a question related to the onigiri . is there anythin i can replace the nori seaweed with ? cuz i don`t think i can find that here T.T

mia | 9 January, 2012 - 00:44

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

[quI think I have This type of rice because every time I cook with it it always stick together . I'm young so I'm still learning to cook.

Courtney5655 | 13 January, 2012 - 03:08

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Can u use curry as a filling? I realize curry is sort of a sauce but i figured maybe I could mix it with a lil rice and stuff it into the onigiri

Kaoru-Chan | 23 February, 2012 - 07:07

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Actually, I tried making these today, and as I didn't have any pickles, tuna, or any of the meats she suggested, I ended up just sauteing some mushrooms and mixing them with sauces I had in the fridge.

Curry is a type of sauce and will probably make your onigiri runny. If you want curry flavor, try using curry spice, some cardimom, ginger, etc. Or, curry paste mixed with whatever your filling is works very nicely. I used green curry paste with mine. You do want to be sure to season your fillers if they're bland, because curry doesn't usually add much salt -- mostly spice. I actually made my mushrooms a little too salty on their own, which balanced out the rice.

I also used a spicy garlic chili sauce (the kind with the rooster on it, sorry for the vagueness), which had enough flavor that it didn't really need extra seasoning beyond basic salt/pepper on the mushrooms.

I liked my rice balls with just these things (maybe a dash of sesame seeds), but on the balls that I got the proportions (filling to rice) wrong with, I just added a dab or two of soy sauce. Not the most authentic, but plenty yummy.

B. Ellwood | 24 March, 2012 - 21:23

Onigiri (rice balls)

I believe I did something wrong because when I made the rice it came out gross and too bland(Yes, I have had this rice before). Do you know what I could have done wrong or could do to fix that?

Sobczak-san | 11 March, 2012 - 04:20

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I don't know how I am supposed to know how it went wrong without seeing or tasting it, but 'bland' indicates a lack of salt.

maki | 11 March, 2012 - 16:38

Onigiri rice balls saved the day!

a month or two ago i was house-sitting for my parents for two weeks, and several things happened:

1) i ran out of food sooner than expected, and had to either starve for two days or come up with something to eat that wasn't fast food or ramen noodles.

2) being alone in the house for so long led to loneliness, and then to massive depression as i kept worrying about my future and the recession. i decided the best way to pull myself out of it was to challenge myself with something new in the kitchen.

so i tried my hand at japanese cuisine, and started small by looking up how to make onigiri, which i'd never eaten and always wanted to. my search led me directly to this site, and i followed the directions to the letter (including what type of rice to get, and how to prepare it). the whole process was fun and even therapeutic; and i can't think of the last time i tasted anything so good! so i've been making them every other week ever since, and i'm planning to try another dish in the near future. maybe sukiyaki, since i've never eaten that before, either...

anyway, thanks for making this blog and sharing these great recipes.

mike macdee | 12 May, 2012 - 07:04

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

thank you!! that really helps, i've always been a japan lover and wanted to make japanese food but the problem is that in the town where I live I can't find this japanese rice type and I'm a little disapointed so can I use the normal rice with medium size?? I tried to cook it with the japanese way and it was sticky and taste good, so I wonder if I can make Onigiri and other japanese dishes with???

sallynightmare | 12 May, 2012 - 12:47

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Hi there! Can't believe I'm commenting on a 9 year old post but this is the best onigiri tut that I found so xD

Well here we go. This morning was my first time making onigiri (my hand's still pretty warm) and I say I'd love to do this again. However I've encountered some problems. I don't know if I did something wrong or any.

Anyway, I cooked the rice the way you said it's supposed to be, I think it was on another post. Well I only used 1 cup of rice since I'm the only one who's going to eat and I don't eat much to be honest. I have a rice cooker so I did it there. Anyway when it was finished the bottom bit was brown/toasted so I left that and used the well done parts. I made the rice balls traditional style since I forgot the plastic wrap. I made it right after the rice was cooked, so I was surprised to see that after my first rice ball the rice in the cooker is drying out really fast (or hardening lol I hope you get what I mean). Still I went on and managed to make 3 good sized onigiri, I made a fourth one but I ended up eating it xD, it tasted good so I was really glad. Anyway, what's up with the rice? I bought "sushi rice" from tesco - that's the label, is that different from the japanese rice you're mentioning? Cause that's the only japanese rice I could find here in town.

Also, when putting the filling and trying to cover it with the rest of the rice, I failed pretty bad. I pushed it in lightly without disintegrating the rice but I can't cover it so what I did was get a few bits more of rice from the cooker,put it on top and molded it into a ball. I used plain tuna by the way, it was already drained so it wasn't oily at all. Didn't put mayo because I hate mayo.

Will you please enlighten me of what I'm doing that's not right? Thank you

Cassie | 23 May, 2012 - 09:00

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

In reply to Cassie,

I say thoroughly drain the tuna using paper towels. If you don't like mayo, Dijon mustard also works wonders.

You can also microwave rice so it doesn't burn. You just need a container that has a lid but not tight to prevent the lid from busting when the rice boils. If the ball still disintegrates, just cover the whole thing with nori to hold it all in. Hope that helps, though the plastic wrap will help immensely.

Maria0922 | 24 September, 2012 - 10:48

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Haha It`s funny I also learnt about onigiri from Fruits Basket ^^

anon. | 15 November, 2012 - 18:02

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I find that medium grain rice works/tastes best. They also have onigiri molds on amazon (in different cute shapes too) that you can use to mold the rice, since medium/short grain rice is VERY STICKY.

First "hand" experience... when making it by hand, put a square piece of plastic wrap on your palm BEFORE placing the rice so it wont stick to your hand. I usually salt the plastic wrap before I put the rice down so it salts the one side, then when finished I salt the top. Once you get the rice packed together, you can twist the plastic wrap tightly to form a nice wrapped ball. Then simply shape, unwrap, place nori and enjoy! No mess! Because even if you use water on your hand, your hand QUICKLY becomes SLIMY. :(

Ichiban | 11 January, 2013 - 20:51

Just Hungry | Japanese food! Authentic, mostly healthy Japanese

We're a gaggle of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your site provided us with helpful information to work on. You have done a formidable process and our whole group shall be grateful to you.

Ultimate Demon | 12 June, 2013 - 14:30

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I found some umeboshi, so I tried making onigiri for the first time with a friend the other day. Both of us were amazed at how good they were! We are both vegetarian, but with allergies that usually make it impossible to eat the same food, so it's great finding something both of us can enjoy.

I admit I learned a lot about onigiri from watching and reading Fruits Basket. I had some onigiri once a long time before that, but it was a flavoured rice variety, with no filling.

Rabellaka | 26 January, 2013 - 16:36

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I have been on all your different pages so many times and they are all so helpful. I made my first onigiri tonight and used your "cheat" with a plastic bag. it worked perfectly. all my rice balls stayed together (on the first try) and my daughter is so excited to take them to school tomorrow. thank you so much for all you detailed instructions and helpful hints.

Wendy | 13 February, 2013 - 02:17

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I first discovered onigiri when a Japanese friends shared them with me during a canoe trip. Love at first bite. I have made them occasionally since then, my kid loves them too. I just came back from a business trip to Japan and have renewed interest in Japanese cooking. While watching Japanese television, I found that they do indeed use all kinds of unusual fillings for onigiri (and sushi rolls, for that matter). Fell in love with umeboshi at breakfast on my first day. Thanks to your blog, I learnt I can use them as a filling for onigiri. I will be preparing a Japanese meal for friends soon, thanks for your many great entries!

Fabienne | 17 March, 2013 - 15:35

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I have never made onigiri but wanted to know if you could make them in advance and how long they would keep in the fridge?
I bought some seaweed shavings mixed with sesame seeds in a Korean market and was wondering if they have any place in onigiri?
Thank you and I just love your topics. You are great!

anon. | 4 April, 2013 - 03:14

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Take a look at the Onigiri safety and transport section of the Onigiri FAQ page which should answer all of your onigiri-making-ahead/safety questions.

I really don't know what those seaweed shavings are so I can't say for sure if they are good for onigiri or not. You'd have to try it out and see!

maki | 4 April, 2013 - 10:57

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

I was wondering, can you put jelly in the rice balls? I'm a college student and very tired of eating out of the snack machines plus, I really don't have time in the mornings to eat breakfast and by the time I get home its either close to noon or well passed. I stay away from school prepared food but I'm also tired of just junk food, is there any other flavors I could put into the rice balls?

College girl | 14 April, 2013 - 20:18

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Hey, just a quick question. I know it's not traditional, but would caviar work as a filling? It's pretty frickin' salty LOL.

nyunyuelf | 16 April, 2013 - 18:43

Re: Onigiri (rice balls)

Just made my first batch of onigiri for me and my Japanese roommate! AWESOME!! She can't cook, but has always loved traditional Japanese food. Being a woman up for a challenge (also not in the least Asian) I turned to this blog and JustBento to learn all I could about this style of cooking. Totally great information! I figured onigiri was a good place to start because its such a staple.

I made pretty big ones with the real Japanese medium grain rice (I used your frying pan method, totally works) and filled them with bonito flakes and a sort-of barbeque sauce I thought looked good at the asian grocery store. Delicious! Served with tamagoyaki and steamed veggies, I'd say it was a successful first bento! Didn't take long either. We made the rice balls together last night after dinner, wrapped them and stashed them in the fridge. Then I made the 1 egg tamagoyaki recipe this morning while the veggies did their thing in the microwave. Done in ten minutes.

Gypzi | 15 November, 2013 - 21:17

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