Onigiri (also known as rice ball) is a simple Japanese snack that also makes a decorative addition to bento lunches. I used to eat just left over sticky rice from our local Chinese restaurant in my bento lunches, but later, as I began to pack lunches in canvassing programs, I would use sticky rice that I purchased from the refrigerated food section at WalMart. Some day, I’d really like to try making sticky rice myself using just sushi, Jasmine, or similar rice.
Most people probably just use simple Nori to wrap their onigiri. For a long while, I didn’t use any seaweed to wrap mine, so it’s really not necessary, unless you want that traditional look. For these, however, I used my recently baked sea chips. If I had used regular seaweed, I don’t think I would have been able to eat these, but with the sea chips, they were edible. Next time, I might just go without the seaweed though, but that’s because I don’t care for seaweed. It has a fishy taste, and I lost my taste for most seafood many years ago, when I was a little child, but many others, with a taste for fish, might find these more enjoyable (although I simply found them to be edible).
I don’t have instructions on how to make sticky rice using rice other than Minute Rice, but the package probably has instructions, or you could look online. In the future, if I have access to other kinds of rice, I may have more information. I’d like to try making sticky rice with brown rice, because it has more fiber and I believe it’s healthier, but starch may need to be added to that, too. I’m not sure. I can only speculate and search online for answers at this point (or maybe also ask others who have more experience).
I can tell you though that if you are using the sticky rice that’s in the refrigerated section at WalMart (or other grocery stores), that’s already been cooked, all you have to do is heat it in the microwave. They should come with instructions too, and if you’re using white rice that you purchased at a Chinese restaurant, you can use it right away.
You can also make these with minute rice. Here’s how to prepare sticky rice using instant/parboiled rice.
- 2 cups sticky rice, already prepared (and warm)
- 4 snack-sized sheets of roasted seaweed (optional)
- Sea Salt (optional)
To Make 4:
- While the sticky rice is still warm, scoop out by 1/2 cup fulls (it’s okay if the cup is heaping).
- Over a large cutting board, clean cookie sheet, wax paper, or a clean counter, using thoroughly washed hands, pack sticky rice together into the shape of a ball, oval, or triangle with rounded corners (I made triangles with rounded corners this time, although I usually make mine round.)
- Place sea chips/sea snack/or seaweed down on cutting board or other surface (if using).
- Set your shaped rice down, on its side, on top of the seaweed, with the bottom (for round, that could be any part, for a triangle with rounded corners, that would be any of the flat edges, but if you have a longer edge, the longest edge should be the bottom. For oval, the longest side (horizontal) is the bottom.) placed about half way vertically along the seaweed. Half of the seaweed should be uncovered.(If using seaweed/sea chips.)
- Fold sea chip/seaweed so that the other half is covering the rice (you may not cover all of your rice, this is okay, but all of the seaweed should be covering some rice, although not all of the rice should be covered. (If using seaweed/sea chips.)
- If desired, salt with sea salt (or you can salt right before you eat them), just enough to taste. (Optional).
- Place in a storage container, carefully placing the onigiri onto its other side in the container, so that the seaweed on the side that had been up can be pressed into the rice (if using seaweed. If not, it doesn’t matter.
This makes 4 onigiri.
To Make 8:
Follow the same steps 1-7 as above, except on step 1, scoop out by 1/4 cups, and break the sea chips/seaweed in half. Then you will have 8 small onigiri instead of 4 large/normal sized onigiri.
You can also season these other ways, too, and even make sweet rice cakes. Once, I put honey in the center of my sticky rice as I formed them into round rice cakes, and then I think I poured honey over them. If you make them sweet, though, don’t use seaweed.