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Japanese Onigiri Rice Balls

Japanese Onigiri Rice Balls
Onigiri means rice ball in Japanese and is usually eaten as a snack in Japan. You can find onigiri in every supermarket and convenience store in Japan and there are also specialist onigiri shops which sell onigiri with all types of different fillings. Onigiri is traditionally filled with umeboshi (pickled plum), tsukudani (food stewed in soy sauce), salmon, katsuobushi (dried bonito) or seaweed. My favourite are ones filled with seaweed but I also like to use less traditional fillings such as vegetable tempura with kewpie mayonaise and avocado. Onigiri is really easy to make and great for bringing to picnics or in packed lunches.
Ingredients (makes 4):

  • 1 cup uncooked Japanese rice
  • Japanese seaweed sheets (nori)
  • salt
  • onigiri filling (eg. umeboshi, salmon, seaweed etc.)


  • Cook the rice either in a rice cooker or in a pot and then let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Fill a bowl with cold water (this will be used to wet your hands so that the rice doesn’t stick to your hands when making the onigiri). After wetting your hands, sprinkle them with a little salt.
  • Take about 1/4 of the cooked rice and mould it into a triangular shape as seen in the photo above. Onigiri is typically a triangular shape but it can also be a ball or cylindrical shape. I sometimes use an onigiri mould (see photo below)to make my onigiri so that I can get a perfect shape.
  • Make a small dent in the middle of the rice and put your choice of filling into it (about a teaspoon worth of filling) and then cover the filling with a bit of rice to seal it in the middle.
  • Use a nori strip of about 2.5cm width and wrap it around the front and back of the onigiri as shown in the photo above. Alternatively you can sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice or I like to use Noritama Furikake (see photo below) which is dried seaweed, bonito and egg that is usually sprinkled over rice to give it some flavour.
  • After you’ve made your onigiri it’s ready to pop into your lunchbox or in a special onigiri box such as the ones below. You can also buy special onigiri wrapping (see photo below) that allows you to separate the seaweed from the rice until it’s eaten so that the seaweed is kept crisp and fresh!

Onigiri Mould
Onigiri Mould

Noritama Furikake & Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma Furikake
Onigiri Containers And WrappingCheck out my Etsy shop for cute onigiri moulds and Japanese Bento accessories! ^_^

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