Jun 1, 2018

Rice is Nice

Onigiri, or rice balls, is a popular comfort food in Japan. Cooking instructor Sonia Phua from ABC Cooking School explains how to make a traditional triangle-shaped onigiri.


“Onigiri, or rice balls, is a simple and quick meal you can have at any time in the day. It’s something that is very easy to prepare in the morning, making it the perfect meal to bring to school or work. The basic ingredients are just rice and water. You simply cook the rice then shape it, which makes it easier to hold in your hands to eat, so you won’t need any cutlery.

It is a comfort food in Japan, with a nostalgic element to it as many Japanese will remember their mothers or grandmothers making onigiri for them to bring to school or as an after-school snack.

Onigiri is typically made with short grain rice, such as koshihikari rice, but the starch is washed off to give it better texture. Soak the rice in water for about half an hour. The rice absorbs the water, making the grains fluffier.

There are so many variations of onigiri. You can add a little bit of salt to the rice for some flavour, you can have it grilled, you can add ingredients to the rice such as shiso leaves or sesame seeds and you can also have it with fillings such as tuna mayo or salmon, or more traditionally, with pickled ume, or plum.

Onigiri comes in many shapes but the traditional shape is a triangle. Legend has it that travellers made the rice ball into the shape of a mountain to ask for protection from spirits. It’s also easier to carry around. It’s not difficult to master the technique and mothers would usually teach their children to make it themselves. In the age of Instagram, you can also find many intricate shapes or even popular characters, such as Totoro.”

(Text Siti Rohani / Recipes ABC Cooking Studio)


web17_IMG_5989Ingredients (2 servings)
140g Japanese short grain rice
155ml water
2pcs nori
Pinch of salt

1. Wash the rice and soak it for at least 30 minutes.
2. Add the water and the rice to a pot and turn the heat to high until the water boils. You can also use a rice cooker.
3. Once the water boils, set the heat to low and cook it for another 10 minutes.
4. The rice is cooked once all the water has evaporated.
5. Transfer the cooked rice to another bowl. Let it cool a little before adding a pinch of salt. Use the cutting method when mixing the rice and salt, so the grains won’t come apart.
6. Place half the rice on a plastic wrap and cover it, making sure there are no air pockets.
7. Curl your left hand and use your palm and fingers of your right hand to shape the top corner of the triangle.
8. Slowly shape the rice into a triangle while turning it and pressing it.
9. Remove the plastic wrap and stick one nori sheet on the onigiri.

Watch the video on how to make Onigiri on Oishii TV!

Onigiri with Salt Kelp Filling and Tuna Filling

Ingredients (2 servings)
Salt Kelp Filling
[Mixture A] 240g cooked rice
10g walnut
1tsp yukari
6g salt kelp

Tuna Filling
[Mixture B] 240g cooked rice
1tsp dried kelp (Aonori)
¼tsp salt

[Mixture C] 30g tuna (canned)
1g bonito
1tsp mayonnaise
½tsp soy sauce

4pcs nori, 3cm by 12cm

1. Toast walnut in a frying pan. Chop into pieces.
2. Mix “Mixture A” in a bowl. Divide into two equal portions.
3. Prepare two sheets of cling wrap. Place a portion of Mixture A on each cling wrap. Place salt kelp in the middle and cover it with rice. Wrap the rice with cling wrap and shape it into balls.
4. Mix “Mixture B” in a bowl. Divide into two equal portions.
5. Mix “Mixture C” in a bowl. Divide into two equal portions.
6. Prepare two sheets of cling wrap. Place a portion of Mixture B (rice with dried kelp) on each cling wrap. Place a portion of Mixture C (tuna mayo) in the middle of each rice portion. Wrap the rice with cling wrap and shape it into balls.
7. Wrap a piece of nori on each onigiri.

Teriyaki Pork-Wrapped Onigiri

Ingredients (8 pieces)
[Mixture A] 400g cooked rice
2tsp white sesame
1/8tsp sesame oil

[Mixture B] 2tbsp sake
2tbsp mirin
2tsp soy sauce

16pcs perilla (shiso)
8 pieces sliced pork belly (20g each)
1tbsp flour
1tsp salad oil
Salt and pepper to taste
White sesame

1. Mix “Mixture A” ingredients together and divide into 8 equal parts. Form the rice into oval shapes.
2. Put perilla on each rice ball.
3. Marinate the pork with salt and pepper.
4. Use the pork slices to wrap up the rice and lightly coat each piece with flour.
5. Heat the salad oil in a frying pan. Grill the pieces in the frying pan at medium heat, rolling it while grilling to make sure each piece is evenly cooked. Remove when cooked and place aside.
6. Heat “Mixture B” in the pan until it thickens. Place the grilled rice rolls into the pan and turn off the heat. Roll the rice around until it’s covered with sauce.
7. Serve on a plate and sprinkle white sesame on top.