Tuesday, May 09, 2006


This evening, I was inspired by Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen (http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/) to make onigiri. They looked so yummy and so easy, that I just had to try. Basically, onigiri is a reconfiguration of all the ingredients you would use for rolled sushi. You take a handful of prepared sushi rice, make a ball, insert some fillings, and either roll in sesame seeds or wrap in seaweed. Sounds simple, right? And easy, right?

Well, there is definitely a trick to rolling the rice. I googled onigiri and got a number of sites that all said your hands have to be VERY wet, and that you should add some salt to the rice, which I did. With each ball, I got better at it. The following recipe made 8 balls about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Onigiri Rice

1 C sushi rice
1 1/4 C cold water
1/2 tsp salt
2 - 3 Tbs seasoned rice vinegar

Rinse the rice until the water becomes clear. Mix cold water, salt and rice in a saucepan, bring to a full boil over high heat, then cover and lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes without lifting the lid. Remove from heat and turn rice into a non-metallic bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice to fluff and to release some of the steam. Pour the vinegar onto the rice and continue mixing until the vinegar is dispersed evenly throughout the rice. Set aside to cool until you can handle it. In the meantime, prepare the fillings.

Tonight's filling: I used $2 worth of boiled shrimp, about 20 shrimp altogether. I mixed them with 1/2 tsp chili garlic sauce, 1/2 tsp black bean sauce, and 1 tsp soy sauce and let them marinate for about 15 minutes while the rice cooled. I sliced half an avocado into eighths.

Before you start making the onigiri, set up the ingredients so you have everything handy, and make sure that you have a bowl of cold water to dip your hands in. Wet your hands, grab a handful of rice and form into a snowball. Dip your index finger into the water and then poke a hole into the ball so you can insert your fillings. Close up the hole and press the ball between your two hands so that it sticks together. You're done!

Notes: We ate this with soy sauce and wasabi and found that it was quite filling. Maybe a little later we will be hungry for something else, so we can have a piece of fruit, or even some carrots with bean dip. The first few onigiri fell apart as we were biting into them - there is a definite learning curve that has to be mastered. I'm not there yet - but we will make these again for sure. Next time I will also roll them in sesame seed or seaweed, not only for the flavor and nutrition, but because it will cut down on the messy stickiness factor. These were VERY messy. It reminded me of eating with my hands at a Moroccan restaurant - could these be a good dinner date recipe? Can romance be found while licking food off your fingers - ala Tom Jones? Or am I dating myself! Grin!

To make this a complete meal, I would serve the onigiri with a quick miso soup, or even a ramen noodle soup that has been enriched with some veggies and a cold green sesame green bean salad and some fruit for dessert.

Dear Daughter says to give this four stars - very delicious but very sticky. She also says that we should make this once a week, or have some in the fridge as snacks. I think this will make a delicious light dinner or lunch during the hot summer months.

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