What is Onigiri?
Onigiri, also known as nigirimeshi and omusubi, is a rice ball, eaten, and served in Japan. Prepared with plain sticky rice, it is the same rice that is used to make sushi rolls. But onigiri rice is not seasoned like such rolls rice.
Onigiri is a snack or fast-food in Japan. The preparation of onigiri is straightforward and easy; anybody can make onigiri. Ingredients that you need are steamed Japanese sticky rice, halved nori sheet, onigiri fillings that you can choose from the list below to your liking, pickle, and garnish. You can serve onigiri with a bowl of soup like wakame egg soup or miso soup.
Sweet Onigiri Fillings
As you might already know that onigiri is easy to make and fun to eat. When it comes to choosing sweet onigiri fillings, there are enormous options for you to choose from. You can make dry fruit balls, and some fresh fruits like mango, avocado, boiled or baked diced sweet potato. You can use Japanese sweet milk Manju and Japanese yokken jelly.
Traditionally onigiri is seasoned with salt or can be served with light soy sauce. But, today, there are many options to flavor your onigiri. There are many readymade seaweed seasonings available online and in the supermarket, as well.
To season your onigiri, you can use furikake (a Japanese rice seasoning, available in many flavors), with roasted black sesame seeds and any seaweed flakes of your choice.
Onigiri Vegan Fillings — Vegetarian
Here are some traditional vegetarian onigiri fillings that are used in Japan, and today they are available almost everywhere in the world. You might not have heard of them before because they are Japanese, Korean, and Chinese words.
- Umeboshi – A Japanese plum pickle for onigiri
- Natto – fermented soybeans
- Tofu – Fresh Soy cheese (diced and deep-fried to be used as onigiri fillings)
- Kimchi – Cabbage spicy and hot salad
- Miso – Fermented Soy Paste
- Takana -Japanese Vegetable Pickles
- Cheese – Blue cheese, California cheese, and crease cheese
- Vegetable Tempura – Deep fried vegetables; vegetables are cut, coated with tempura flour, dipped in tempura batter ( egg optional ), and deep-fried in sesame/vegetable oil.
Onigiri Chicken, Beef & Pork Fillings
Here are some of the chicken, beef, and pork onigiri fillings that you can try and might already have tested them in Asian restaurants. Especially Japanese restaurant.
- Tori karaage – Japanese deep-fried chicken, before frying chicken, it is seasoned with soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger-garlic paste, coasted with tempura flour.
- Tori katsu — seasoned and iron pan-seared chicken thigh
- Tori Teriyaki — Chicken thigh pan-seared and cooked in teriyaki sauce (sweet and ginger flavor)
- Yakitori — Pan seared chicken served with Japanese Yaki sauce ( Yaki means grill)
- Yakiniku – Grilled beef served with Japanese Yaki sauce
- Tonkatsu – Pork belly is prepared seasoned with salt and pepper, coated with flour, dipped in egg batter and deep-fried – pork cutlets
Onigiri seafood fillings
- Yaki Salmon – Salted grilled salmon fillet
- Sashimi – Raw fish (generally salmon and tune)
- Smoked Salmon – This is readily available in the supermarket and can be prepared at home as well.
- Salmon Caviar Marinated in Soy Sauce – Salmon fish eggs marinated in light soy sauce
- Pollock roe/mentaiko (spicy pollock) – Pollock is a fish from codfish family, spicy pollock fish eggs
- Grilled Tuna – Light Soy sauce marinated tuna, grilled or pan-seared
- Grilled Shrimp – Soy Sauce marinated shrimp, grilled or pan-seared
- Okaka – bonito (sun-dried tuna fish flakes ) flakes in soy sauce
Egg Filling for Onigiri
- Tamago Yaki – Japanese omelette.