Thursday, September 8, 2011


The first and most important step for this recipe, I found, is to have a nice set of small bowls.  Not small like small soup bowls, but small like salt bowls.  Like the ones made by The One and Only Anderson Bailey (at least the one and only who makes gorgeous salt bowls).  These bowls have many uses, big and small, and will take you far in life, I promise.

Onigiri are easier than they look, but next time I am going to flavor the rice up more.  The recipe I used was from Canning For a New Generation by Liana Krissoff and it didn't call for anything in the rice.  I added a little salt and quite a bit of rice vinegar and bit of honey, but it was still a bit bland for my taste.  Next time I think I'll make some real sushi vinegar by soaking some kombu in the rice vinegar, and that might help give the rice some of the ever-desired umami.
  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • Stuffins such as fermented or pickled veggies.  I used a mixture of kimchee and  fried bacon, all chopped up and crumbly.  Use whatever you want to fill- just make sure it is strong and salty.
  • Sushi Vinegar (or rice vinegar mixed with a little sugar and some kind of salt- you can use soy sauce or dulce flakes if you don't mind the rice not being pristine)
  • Nori
Rinse the rice well, until the water runs clear.  This helps it from becoming super gunky.  Put it in a medium saucepan with 2 1/4 cup of water.  Lisa says to let it soak for 30 minutes, but I just went ahead and cooked mine without soaking.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a small simmer for about 10 minutes, or til the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender.  Sushi rice is a little trickier than long-grain rice, and a little fickle as well.  It is important to not peak while it's cooking, maybe just look once to make sure that water is still simmering.  And don't stir it, as it will get gluey.  When it is done remove it from the stove, take off the lid, and put a clean, wet dishtowel on top.  Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

When the rice has cooled some, scoop it into a bowl, break it up with a wooden paddle, and pour about 1/4 a cup of the vinegar over it.  Fold the vinegar gently but thoroughly into the rice, taste it, and add more vinegar until it tastes good.  The filling for the onigiri should be rich and salty so don't give the rice too much flavor, as you want a nice contrast.  Again cover the rice with a wet towel and keep it there as you work out of the bowl.

Fill a bowl with warm water and set it aside to dip your fingers into.  This is the secret to keep sticky rice from sticking to your hands.  Line a very small bowl or teacup (or several) with a small piece of plastic wrap.  I have never bought plastic wrap before in my life (seriously!) until I made these.  It works very nicely though,  and now I have some on hand for next time.   Wet your fingers and pluck about a 1/4 a cup of rice from the bowl.  Roughly shape it into a ball, make a dent in the center, and spoon a teaspoon of the filling inside.  Pull the plastic wrap over the rice ball and twist to close.  As you do this the rice will wrap itself around the filling. Don't worry if some filling oozes out.  You will cover the bottom with nori anyway. Set aside.

Repeat until the rice is gone and you have a whole lot of nice tidy rice balls.  You may unwrap and eat them immediately  or put them still wrapped in the fridge for later.   To serve, tear a small squarish rectangle from a sheet of nori, take the plastic off the onigiri, and press the nori square around the bottom.  Enjoy by itself, or serve with a dipping sauce if desired.

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