I like making new foods from various places around the world. One I currently enjoy is onigiri (Japanese rice balls). I posted about a recent experience on Facebook and was asked to provide a recipe link. I looked around for the tutorial that taught me, but couldn't find it. Why not do my own? The only problem is that I often tweak the recipe, which makes it harder to remember steps that I do automatically as well as exact measurement. I think I got everything, though.
So, here is my attempt to offer a step by step guide to making onigiri. It isn't the traditional way, but it is fairly simple and less messy. Hopefully the pictures will be helpful. If you have questions, let me know.
You'll need sushi rice (I use Calrose from WinCo, which may or may not be labeled as sushi rice, but it works perfectly), salt for seasoning, a sheet of nori, which is dried seaweed if you didn't know, (I get mine at WinCo) cut into 1x3 in. strips, and a filling of your choice.
I cook a bunch of sushi rice (roughly 2 cups of dry rice). This should be enough for 5+ onigiri. I use a rice cooker and eyeball the amount of water. If you follow the 2:3 ratio for cooking rice, however, it should be about 3 cups of water. If you don't have a rice cooker, you should get one :)
After the rice is cooked, I spoon it into a large bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. I also add 1 1/2 Tablespoons of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon garlic powder, but they aren't necessary. It's how I do my rice for sushi as well. Mix gently. Cover with a plastic storage bag or piece of plastic wrap. I use the storage bag because it's sturdier, which helps in future steps. Let the rice cool for at least an hour, but I usually go for 2.
In the meantime, decide what filling you want. (It can be anything, really. BBQ shredded chicken, pepperoni, pork, scrambled or hard boiled egg...) If it needs to be cooked, do so beforehand and let it cool a bit. My recent favorite filling is a whole avocado, smashed and seasoned with salt and garlic powder, a couple Tablespoons of softened cream cheese, and five strips of cooked bacon, cut into small pieces. Mix together.
You will also need a small bowl of water and an empty cereal-sized bowl. I'll add some pics to help with the next steps.
1. Remove plastic from rice. You'll want to dry off the condensation from the side that was touching the rice. Lay in empty bowl.
3. Wet hands in water and shake a bit to get off excess, then gently push on rice to spread it out into a circle, it will probably be a bit bigger than the palm of your hand.
4. Add a bit of filling the center. About 2 teaspoons worth.
5. Lift plastic/rice out of the bowl a set in one hand.
6. Pull sides of the plastic together, bringing the rice to close around the filling. Add a bit more rice on top to close the ball if necessary.
7. Press firmly to make the rice stick together. If your filling is soft like avocado, don't press too hard. Shape it into a ball, oval, triangle, octagon, whatever. Mine are usually ovals.
8. Grab a strip of nori and place at one end like a little green diaper. This makes it easy to hold onto the onigiri when you eat it.
I stand them up in a container with a flat bottom and tall sides while I work on the others. Space them out a bit so they don't stick together.
Make a bunch more. It's time consuming if you do it alone, but not too hard. Have the kids make their own :)
You can eat now.
We like to dip ours in salad dressing (usually Newmans Garlic Parmesan) but use whatever goes with your filling or no dip at all. Store extras in individual sandwich baggies or plastic wrap. Should be good for at least a day in the fridge. Eat leftovers cold or room temp. I wouldn't microwave them, but you can pan fry them if the rice gets a bit hard. I haven't tried that yet, so good luck.