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Onigiri - Rice Balls

Onigiri is a Japanese lunch box staple and a picnic staple in my family! It is a rice ball, usually triangular or circular in shape, wrapped in nori for easy handling. It really be as simple or fancy as you want, just plain rice or filled pretty much with anything like avocadoes, carrots, spinach, tuna, salmon and even beef. I've even colored the rice with pureed vegetables and put them in shaped molds. Be creative! It'll be delicious!

Above are just a few I've made over the years. Onigiri are easy to make, fairly filling, and so delicious. The varieties are endless. It's also a great way to use up leftovers! The recipe below is simple and easily made with a tuna filling.

When my kids were in elementary school I used to send them with rice balls for lunch occasionally so they wouldn't always have to take a sandwich or cheese and crackers. I worried that other kids might make fun of them but surprisingly their friends wanted to try them too!

Onigiri - Rice Balls


Ingredients (makes 8)

7 oz can of solid white tuna, well drained

3 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated (optional)

1 teaspoon green onions, white part only, finely sliced (optional)


4 cups cooked rice

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)


sheets of roasted nori

Directions

Drain the tuna well. Place in bowl and mix in mayonnaise and salt, and ginger and scallions if using. Set aside.


Tear off a square piece of plastic wrap about 12" x 12". Place on a cutting surface. Sprinkle on a pinch of kosher salt and a pinch of sesame seeds. Place 1/2 cup of cooked rice on top and use a rice paddle or silicone spatula to flatten to a disk about 4" wide. Place 2 tablespoons of tuna in the center. Lift up and gather edges of plastic wrap, bringing up edges of rice to enclose filling. Twist plastic wrap and shape onigiri into a triangular shape, holding and shaping firmly. Open plastic wrap and place a sheet of nori on at least 1 side and onto a plate. Use as many nori as you need. Serve and enjoy!




Try these other great combinations for fillings:

  • tuna + avocado

  • cooked salmon

  • cooked salmon + avocado

  • chopped marinated spinach

  • chopped marinated spinach + grated carrots

  • avocado + pinch of salt

  • imitation crab meat mixed with mayo

  • imitation crab meat + avocado

  • cooked shrimp mixed with mayo and sriracha

  • chopped, pan fried SPAM

  • chopped, pan fried SPAM + fried egg

  • cucumbers + carrots + spinach + avocado

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