The Simple Rice Ball – How to make an Onigiri

Rice is the staple food of Asia. Plain rice with a little bit of salt goes a long way to stave off one’s hunger and nothing is more simple that the rice ball or onigiri in Japanese.

As seen in this photograph, growing rice is back breaking labor and there is great respect for the rice farmers in Japan.  So much so that as children, we were taught never to leave a grain of rice in our bowl, because that was disrespectful to the rice farmers who worked so hard.  Even to this day I make sure my children just take as much as they can consume and they are not to leave any rice on their plate.  This is a cultural issue.

Today, machinery has made growing rice a simpler process however, there are still many places in the world that grow rice with mostly manual labor.

The following video shows how rice is grown without such machinery and we can appreciate the amount of labor that goes into this process.  By just watching such a video helps with being mindful and we appreciate the food we consume.

To enjoy rice in its most simple manner is to make a rice ball or onigiri. The word onigiri comes from the word nigiru meaning to grasp or hold together.  Unfortunately, you can’t make a rice ball with any type of rice.  It has to be sticky!  You need rice that says Japanese Rice, sushi rice, japonica rice or calrose rice.  These types of rice will make a rice ball.   To cook, follow the directions on the package, or for most Asians just cook it in your rice cooker.  The only other ingredients are sea salt and dried seaweed or nori.  Because  Nori is seaweed it contains many minerals and is considered a health food.

Now onto making the onigiri.  First start by placing a sheet of saran wrap on a flat surface.  In the center place hot rice and sprinkle a bit of salt.  Using the edges of the wrap, gather the rice and gently squeeze the rice together to make a ball, triangle or any shape you desire.  Wrap with seaweed and it’s your Asian sandwich.  Very portable and healthy.  Hope you try one soon.

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8 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Simple Rice Ball – Onigiri | Asian Lifestyle Design | cooktoday

  2. Hi Jenny,
    I’m a huge rice lover! I eat it all the time. It’s one of the staples of my diet since I have a gluten intolerance. The photos in your post are beautiful. The entire site looks lovely as well!

  3. I love your video, I used to eat these as a child, I think I’ll make them for my daughter tomorrow, to take to the park!

  4. @angela, Thanks so much for your support.

    @Sarah. thanks and happy you enjoyed the video. I used to take these with me to the park when my boys were young too. Their hands were always so dirty that the plastic wrap really helps! Rice and dirt are not very compatible.

  5. Pingback: Brown Rice Onigiri

  6. Jenny, my husband and I used your instructions a few weeks ago to make onigiri. We packed them along on a picnic to the Washington Park Arboretum to see the cherry blossoms. I linked to your post from my blog, thanks for the great video!
    Mary@FitandFed recently posted..Brown Rice Onigiri

  7. Hi Mary,
    You made my day! Thanks for trying the onigiri and linking it to your blog. It’s so simple isn’t it? Wow, you live in Seattle! If you do get a chance to visit the Japanese Garden in the Arboretum during the summer it’s beautiful. I sometimes help with the tea ceremony demonstration every 3rd Saturday. Please come and say hello. I was just there yesterday. warm regards, Jenny

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