Food in Japan was no joke. All of it was amazing. Even the food that came from convenience stores, or what we here in fast food land call ‘gas station food.’ My other half made sure to save room for a piece of fried chicken from the corner Family Mart on one driving excursion – no joke. One of the best discoveries were onigiri, or rice balls. These little beauties, I am told, are the equivalent of a quick sandwich and can be found all over. And are, no pun intended, amazeballs. They are basically little formed bits of sushi rice with all sorts of fillings: chicken salad, miso, bonito flakes, etc. We have been making them like crazy not that we are home because A) they are delish B) they are super easy and C) they use minimal leftovers to create something new, tasty and totally portable.
- Rinse 1 1/2 cups sushi rice with cool water until it runs clear
- Add to 1 1/2 cups water in pan and bring to a quick boil (add 1 piece of kombu, or seaweed, before boiling if desired)
- As soon as it boils, remove kombu, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes on low
- At the 10 minute mark, remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes
- Pour rice onto a plate or dish (a lasagna pan does a good job for this) and add 2 TB rice vinegar, 1 TB mirin and a sprinkle of fancy salt
- With a wooden spoon continue to fold rice over on itself until it comes to room temperature and is glassy (5-10 minutes)
That’s the hard part (and it’s not really that hard, right?). Mix up whatever filling you might like. We have used leftover chicken and made chicken salad (chopped chicken, mayo, green onion, etc), leftover bits of salmon (salmon, cream cheese, tony mayo, salt, pepper, etc), or even egg salad.
My friend Emily forms these with her hands, and we use a mold, whichever way you go be sure to have a little bowl of water nearby as that rice is sticky stuff. Form bottom, fill, add more rice to top, done. Wrap with a piece of seaweed (for easy eating), top with toasted sesame seeds, tobiko, or leave on its own and proceed to unhinge your face.
There is really no right or wrong way to do this. Get crazy and creative – mix the toasted sesame seeds in with the rice! Try different eggs! Fill with wakame! They are so, so good.