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Onigiri “Rice Balls”

January 10, 2012
Onigiri Rice Balls

Onigiri Rice Balls

Welcome to our first post at Lettuce Cook! We haven’t made onigiri rice balls for a while, so we thought we would create a nice sample of our favorites. The girls especially like the ones with furikake mixed in. Furikake is a popular condiment made of sesame seeds, eggs, sugar, salt, dried fish and other tasty ingredients. It makes rice taste great.

Sandwich Onigiri Rice Cake

Sandwich onigiri with seaweed

We tried an onigiri mold that makes rectangular onigiri. This one is filled with  seasoned seaweed and sesame seeds. We also made one filled with ham and cheese.

Ham and cheese onigiri

Ham and Cheese Onigiri "Rice Cake"

Fillings for onigiri

Possible fillings clockwise: sesame seeds, flavored sea vegetable, dried bonito flakes, dried seaweed, and furikake center.

How to Prepare Rice for Japanese Style Onigiri “Rice Balls”

3 cups of rice will make 8- 10 onigiri for 4  servings

3 cups short grain rice

3 cups water

extra water for rinsing rice

Rinse the rice in several changes of water to remove excess starch. Carefully tip the bowl with the rice to remove as much of the milky water as possible. You can gently stir the rice as you are rinsing to aid in washing. On the last rinse, use a colander or sieve to drain the rice.  Let sit in the colander for 10-15 minutes. Place rice in rice cooker with 3 cups of water. Switch the rice cooker on.  In 30 minutes, the rice is done. Gently fluff the rice with a rice paddle or spoon. To cook the rice on the stove: place the rice and 3 cups of water in an uncovered saucepan on high heat. Bring the rice to a boil for 5 minutes. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn the burner down to the lowest setting and tightly cover the saucepan for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the burner off.  Gently fluff the rice with a spoon.

Onigiri “Rice Balls”

Makes 8-10 onigiri serving 4 people


5-6 cups of hot cooked short grain rice (see recipe above)


Possible Fillings:

Furikake (seasoned sesame seeds, rice, dried egg; many varieties are available at Japanese grocery stores)

Umeboshi (pickled plum)

Katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes) moistened with soy sauce

Tuna fish, drained mixed with mayonnaise (like tuna salad)

Flaked, canned salmon

Sesame seeds (white and black mixed is nice)

Roasted nori strips for wrapping onigiri


1. Wet hands with salty water

2.  Put about 1/2 cup of cooked, warm rice in a bowl; make a hollow in the center of the rice and add about 1 Tb of your filling in it. Put another 1/2 cup of rice on top.

3. Using both hands, scoop the rice out of the bowl and press into a triangle shape (or round shape, if you prefer). Gently press just enough to keep the rice together.

4. Sprinkle the onigiri with 1 tsp of furikake or sesame seeds

5. A strip of nori 2 x 3 inches can be wrapped around the onigiri for taste and ease of handling. (Wrap onigiri with nori when still warm, but eat soon after or else the seaweed will be soggy.)


The key to good onigiri is using high quality rice that has a certain “sticky” quality. Otherwise, it will be difficult to form shapes. Also, the rice has to be cooked properly so that it is not too gummy or dry. In any case, if you use short grain rice, it will work out fine. You can fill the onigiri with any filling you choose. The most traditional ones are umeboshi (pickled plum), katsuo bushi (bonito flakes) with soy sauce and fish. Other good fillings include tuna salad, curry, smoked salmon and cream cheese.


From → Recipes, Rice

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