Thursday, November 5, 2009

Onigiri (Rice Ball)

If you're Amaya, and you're hungry, you want 1 thing.

Rice with furikake.

And if you're me, you're trying to figure out how rice with furikake could be just a little more healthy. I have been in love with this short grain Japanese brown rice they started selling at our stores because it cooks as quickly as white rice and is soft, too. Or, when you cook rice, mix 2/3 portion short grain (Japanese style) rice with 1/3 portion brown rice before cooking, and it will be almost as good.

Furikake is the name for seaweed mix sprinkle stuff. That's the technical definition anyway. Many people I meet are a bit squeamish when it comes to seaweed, but rice they're okay with. The good thing is, you can make onigiri (say "Oh-Knee-Gee-Ree") with things other than seaweed sprinkle stuff.

I have a lot of really cute onigiri molds, but sometimes the only things I want to wash are my hands, and since some of you don't have onigiri molds, this is how you do it.

1. Get your hands (palm side only, really) wet. Clap them a few times to get most of the excess water off.

2. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of salt into your hands and rub them around a little to stick to your hands. I like coarse ground sea salt for this more than fine table salt.

3. Get a handful of pretty warm to hot rice. If you get too little, it's harder to mold in my opinion. You can adjust the amount according to your size of hand, just make sure it looks like a mound, like this.

4. Cup both of your hands over the rice, making your bottom hand two of the side of a triangle, and the top hand the 3rd side. For your bottom hand your fingers are one side, and the palm the 2nd. The top hand fingers are flattening the front of the triangle and the palm is the 3rd side.

5. Continue to rotate the ball in one direction, firmly pressing each angle and side until the shape starts to be uniform. Press in with every angle. You want to try to get it done within about 30 seconds or so, moving quickly, as your hands will start to stick if you hold it much longer.

If you want to make a round shape, you do the same thing, but rotate just slightly instead of moving to the side of the triangle.

Once you make your onigiri rice ball, you can press the ball into different toppings. With a little practice, you can start filling your rice ball as well. Fillings can range from pickled plum, salmon, tuna w/mayo, seaweed paste, avocado, chopped chicken... You can be pretty creative here. I didn't bother with fillings today because Amaya was asking for her onigiri right now. Plus her friend Minami was waiting for a bite. And the whole snack took me about 3 minutes to make. (but lets get real, here. I use this "snack" as lunch or dinner when it's necessary.)

Amaya's favorite topping today was shredded cheese. Just press finely shredded cheese into the ball.

My favorite topping right now is crushed, toasted sesame seeds. Toast about 3 Tablespoons of sesame seeds in a small fry pan. I just swirl the pan around as I heat it and wait until there's a slight aroma from the pan. Place the toasted seeds into a mortar that has grooves. (a quick spin in a magic bullet or food processor would do the trick, too.) Put a pinch of sea salt in, and crush with a pestle until most of the seeds are half crushed. You don't want a powder, just broken up. For some reason when you crush them a little, they release more flavor.



Natty said...

I love furikake. I used to eat it for lunch in grad school (cheap and filling! though not particularly healthy, as you note.) and I remember a Japanese peer laughing at me-- "That is for children! You are not a child!"

Cindy said...

These look yummyyy!

Metta said...

Thanks Mariko for the tutorial! I tried my hand at spam musubi the other day, and the meat part of it was such a downer (which is the entire source of flavoring...), so I loved your list of other flavors to try. I have tuna, and I think I'll give it a whirl next. We have Japanese short grain rice, and it sounds like an easy snack/meal! We are also well loaded on furikake... mmmmmm....

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