Onigiri, Japanese Rice Balls
SMOKED SALMON. Need I go on?
Makes: 8 Rice Balls • Prep Time: 5 mins • Cook Time: 25-30 mins
Onigiri, Japanese Rice Balls
Confession time. I’m one of those people who puts hot sauce on everything. I’m sure my dad will be snickering with glee when he reads this because I used to tease him mercilessly for his hot sauce “affliction,” as I would call it.
Why did I call it an affliction? Well, let me tell you a story.
Every year my family would go on a trip to the mountains to cross-country ski. Why on earth would we choose cross-country skiing, you ask? GOOD question—something downhill and fast would clearly be the superior choice.
Anyway, there was one great thing about our cross-country ski trips: our journey (yes, the same one every year) would take us to a beautiful, untouched meadow with perfect glistening snow as far as the eye could see. Pure bliss; it was truly spectacular. So this one time, for a reason I can’t recall, we did not pack lunches. After working up a sweat on our cross country skis, we were starving. We joked about making snow cones to ease our growling tummies, and then…it happened: my dad pulled out a mini Tabasco bottle (we’re talking 2 inches tall) from his inner-jacket pocket. Yes, he did this. He stashes Tabasco like some men stash whiskey.
The best part? We sprinkled that hot sauce on our snow cones and reveled in the glorious illusion of a full stomach—few meals we had shared had ever tasted so good.
It only took me 15 years to appreciate my father’s wisdom:
Always be prepared
Never underestimate hot sauce.
And now look at me, one of the fellow “afflicted.” Ashamed? Not one bit.
Onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, are fun to cook and they epitomize the perfect combination of textures and flavors. They’re crunchy, they’re soft, they’re salty, they’re spicy, they’re smoky, they’re warm; they’re everything you want in one tasty meal.
The Yummy Stuff
Why am I telling you this? Because SRIRACHA.
And mayo. But come on, who fantasizes about mayo? It’s all about the Sriracha.
But let’s back up. I’m getting ahead of myself. Today I will be trying my hand at my favorite type of cuisine: Japanese! Onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, are fun to cook and they epitomize the perfect combination of textures and flavors. They’re crunchy, they’re soft, they’re salty, they’re spicy, they’re smoky, they’re warm; they’re everything you want in one tasty meal. And they have salmon. They’re perfect.
Tasty Morsels of Smoked Salmon Goodness
First thing’s first… and pardon my french, but screw saving the best for last… today, the best is the opening act!
*Curtain rises.* THE SMOKED SALMON! *Takes a bow.*
Because smoked salmon is brined with salt, it is very, well, salty. Therefore no salt is called for (probably) in this recipe (but you’ll have to check at the end to make sure).
Obviously the smoked salmon is the Best. Ingredient. Ever. But I can’t neglect the important stuff: the rice! It has a simple beauty to it, doesn’t it? And it’s so easy to cook. Whether you’re using a rice cooker or a pot on the stove, just follow the directions on the package and BAM; foolproof rice.
It’s important to remember that I use short grain Japanese sushi rice. Therefore, to ensure my rice is sticky, like “true” sushi rice, I need to add in some additional ingredients: rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Use a wooden spoon when you fluff the rice, and take heed not to smoosh it!
The spices in this recipe are unique, but in the most delicious way possible. Seto fumi furikake has a nice umami flavor to it, a perfect balance of salty, sweet, and crunchy. And chili flakes are my reliable go-to. They never fail to impress.
Don’t forget the lime! I like to call citrus the backbone of the recipe; it’s subtle, yet without it everything falls to pieces. The lime pulls it all together. Don’t be afraid to get a little pulp mixed in—this will just add to the explosion of flavor.
Time to mix it all together!
Now the fun starts. This recipe is all about layers.
Sharing recipes with your friends is as easy as pie!Download Now!
Always wet (and re-wet) your hands when working with rice. Use a cookie-cutter mold, or a measuring cup to prepare your onigiri. If you’re using a measuring cup, line the cup with water so it makes for an easier removal.
Step 1: Pack the bottom of your measuring cup or cookie cutter with a layer of rice.
Step 2: Furikake, furikake, furikake. Use it, use it, use it. And then use it again!
Step 3: Don’t hold back on the smoked salmon. Be generous. You will thank yourself. And if you want some extra bite, now is the time to sprinkle on more chile flakes.
Step 4: Almost there! Pack in the last layer of rice, and carefully remove the onigiri from your cookie cutter or measuring cup. I found that turning the measuring over and pounding it on a hard surface worked well. Once the onigiri has been released from it’s mold, reshape if necessary to make it pretty. I find that the yummier something looks, the more excited I am to eat it. This also applies to how good something smells, and these smell DELISH when cooked.
Step 5: This might be the most important step: the nori! Presentation is both form and function for these onigiri—if your onigiri doesn’t have a good shape, or have any nori holding it together, it will fall apart during the cooking process. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience… I never make cooking mistakes. That would be unheard of.
And now comes the best part. Crisping up your rice delicacy! You know I’m all about the crisp. Just a few minutes on each side, and your onigiri will be a zillion times tastier. According to the official scale of cooking tastiness. Which uses official numbers, like a zillion.
HOLY SMOKES (pun most definitely intended) this recipe is good.
You’ll want to make more. And you can.
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Prepare rice according to instructions on package. As soon as the rice is done cooking, add the vinegar, sugar, and salt, and fluff the rice.
While your rice is cooking, prepare your smoked salmon filling! In a bowl, mix together the smoked salmon, mayonnaise, sriracha, lime juice, and chile flakes. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix together the smoked salmon, mayonnaise, sriracha, lime juice, and chile flakes
Cut nori sheets two-inch wide strips. Set aside.
Wet hands when working with rice. Fill your measuring cup or cookie cutter with a layer of rice, a sprinkle of spices, a dollop of salmon, and a last layer of rice.
Fill your measuring cup or cookie cutter with a layer of rice, a sprinkle of spices, a dollop of salmon, and a last layer of rice
Make sure to pack down both rice layers. Carefully remove the rice ball from the cookie-cutter or the measuring cup. Wrap with a nori strip.
Wrap the rice balls with a nori strip
Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. This recipe yields about eight rice balls.
Add olive oil and preheat your skillet on medium-high heat. Place as many onigiri as fit in the skillet, and brown both side for a few minutes each. This creates a great crunchy outside. Remove when done, re-oil the skillet, and continue to cook until all your rice balls have been grilled.
Enjoy with great gusto!
- 2 1/2 cup uncooked Japanese Sushi Rice
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 9 oz smoked salmon
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp sriracha
- The juice from 1 fresh lime – pulp included
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes more is optional
- Sprinkled layer of seto fumi furikake rice seasoning
- 2-3 sheets of nori
- 2 1/2-inch round cookie-cutter mould or a measuring cup
- Olive oil for sautéing
Other foods we’re featuring on Forq
Perfectly Cooked Salmon SkinGiving salmon skin a chance; how to cook and eat this crispy treat.
Indian Style Kofta MeatloafKofta is a minced meat on a skewer.
Why not make a giant one to have as meatloaf?
Chocolate Quinoa CookiesThe quinoa in these cookies makes them extra moist and fluffy! My ultimate chocolate cookie.
Spaghetti Squash FrittersNo excuses are needed to justify making these delicious, Southwest-flavored fried squash pancakes.
Mexican-inspired MeatloafMake it as spicy as you like, serving it with salsa and guacamole.
Sweet Potato Quinoa BurgersSweet potato makes a brilliant binding agent in these vegan burgers. Add whatever extra veggies you fancy!
Eggs with Asparagus, Mushrooms, and Garlic ScapesThis dish uses some of the true gems of the late spring and summer and combines them with farm fresh eggs for a dish you’ll want to make again and again.
Who’s Cooking Today
Rachel Zoë Silver, a recent Cal Berkeley graduate, has been a foodie since her first sushi at three years old. With heritage from the Pacific Northwest, she learned early how to select the best fish from the Pike Place market. Her parents, also cooks and foodies, schlepped her to the best restaurants up and down the West Coast and through Italy. Rachel was still missing her front teeth when she mastered her grandmother’s Apple Pie recipe. She is still as excited by food as she was when, at 18 months, discovered on the pantry floor, hands and face smeared brown, she declared, “Chocolate is Yum!”
More delicious salmon recipes!
The full FORQ salmon recipes archive, straight from our FORQ Enthusiasts.
[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”17786760″]