what are Japanese rice balls and how to prepare them

At sushi or in some Japanese cartoon you have certainly seen onigiri, triangles of rice with a strip of seaweed. Let’s see how this Japanese street food is prepared.

The Japanese are true masters in the processing of rice and onigiri, as well as the sushiI’m a testament to that. These stuffed rice triangles they have been prepared in the land of the rising sun for centuries, even if originally they had a rounded shape. The characteristic of onigiri ripieni is to have a piece of nori seaweed at the base, ideal for being able to hold this rice ball with one hand and consume it as street food. In Japan they have a widespread diffusion to the point that there are shops specialized only in this: the onigiri-ya.

The onigiri recipe it doesn’t include many ingredients. In addition to perfectly cooked Japanese rice, they serve tuna or salmon – these are the two most popular fillings, but there are also sweets and those vegetarians.


How to make onigiri

  1. First you need to prepare and cook the rice for onigiri. Put it in a bowl and cover it with water.
  2. Rinse it with your hands, you will see that the water will become cloudy and milky.
  3. Drain the rice with a fine-mesh strainer and immerse it again in a bowl of water, repeating the rinsing process.
  4. Repeat the operation until the rinse water remains clear.
  5. Then transfer it to a pot with water, cover and cook over low heat without stirring until all the water has been absorbed.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the seasoning, which is the same as sushi rice (This part will serve to make the rice exactly the consistency you enjoy in the best Japanese restaurants, but you can also omit the step if you want). In a pan, heat the vinegar with the sugar and salt, making them melt without bringing to the boil.
  7. When the rice is ready, put it in the hangiri, a special container for this type of preparation, and let it season with thevinegar and mix with a wooden spoon. Let it cool before you start shaping the onigiri. (If you don’t have a hangiri you can use a low and wide container, better if not in metal).
  8. While the rice cools, take the fish and cook it on the grill or in a pan with a drizzle of oil.
  9. Once cooked, fray it and proceed with the realization of the Japanese onigiri.
  10. Rice is quite sticky so to shape it wet your hands with water every time. Take a spoonful of rice and spread it across the palm of your hand. Sit down a bit stuffed. Cover with another dose of rice and, always with wet hands, give him the shape of a triangle.
  11. Cut out of sheet salary wants a rectangle two centimeters wide and six long and place it at the base of the onigiri. Your Japanese rice balls are ready to be enjoyed.

Onigiri vegetarian

To prepare the onigiri vegetarianireplace the fish with an equal dose of ceci cooked. All you have to do is crush them with a fork and season them with a spoonful of mayonnaise. If you choose to use mayonnaise without eggs you will get some onigiri vegani.

Sweet onigiri

To stay in the Japanese tradition, use red bean jam, called anko. Alternatively the classic Nutella.

For a Japanese themed evening, prepare the sushi too!


We recommend keeping them for maximum one day in the fridge, inside a special container with a lid.

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