Onigiri / Japanese Rice Balls –» Bowls

A dear friend and reader of Bon Appétempt recently asked me: "Do you ever cleanse?"

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that I experimented (quite a bit) with dieting in my teens and early twenties, and through much trial and error, discovered that it’s not for me. Basically, dieting always had a way of making me feel deprived, and I like life (and myself) better when I don’t feel that way.
What I do do, when I’m feeling like I need some sort of cleanse, is eat Japanese and Korean food.

A while ago, I stumbled across a photo of Japanese rice balls (or onigiri) on Lena Corwin’s blog and made a mental note to make them. Fast forward a year and one rice-cooker purchase later, and I finally cashed in on that mental note.
Of course, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

I had some trouble closing up the rice ball after having stuffed the insides with everything I wanted in there: avocado, cucumber, salmon, and a touch of umeboshi paste. So, I added more rice. Only, when I did get the thing into a ball-like shape without the insides coming out, the finished product was about the size of a grapefruit—not quite right either.
The good news? Just like fallen layer cakes can become trifles, poorly put together rice balls can easily turn into delicious rice bowls. And Matt was happy because he doesn’t like salmon (Yet he does like lox?), and this variation allowed him to top off his version with a fried egg.
In related news, now I have a tub of umeboshi paste in my refrigerator, the container of which suggests trying it on an ear of corn instead of butter… I think I just might. But if you have other ideas on how to use it, I’d love to hear them.

June’s Onigiri (or Japanese rice balls) slightly adapted from Lena Corwin

for the rice:
Japanese sticky rice (I assumed sticky rice meant sushi rice, and so used this recipe.)
toasted sesame seeds
sea salt
seaweed (nori)

ingredients for inside the rice ball:
salmon fillet (I got enough for two people, even though Matt didn't eat his portion.)
Persian cucumbers, seeded and sliced
avocado, diced
umeboshi paste– optional
Japanese or Korean red pepper flakes – optional

Make 2 cups of sushi rice (makes 4-8 rice balls), and let it cool down a little. In the mean time, heat up a pan or cast iron grill and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil (I used grapeseed oil). Cook the salmon. I followed Lena's lead, putting it skin side down with a top over it until almost done (5-10 mins), then flipped it for one minute further. When the rice is not hot anymore, add the sesame seeds (about a 1/2 cup), sea salt to taste, and whatever other seasoning you want (I used Korean red pepper flakes). Taste the rice to see if you need to add more salt or sesame seeds.

At this point, make sure everything you want to stuff into your rice ball is prepped and ready. (Avocado and cucumber are sliced, etc.)

Put about a handful of rice either in a bowl or straight into your hand (You should definitely wet your hands with water a little bit before.) and then add a piece of salmon, avocado, umeboshi or whatever else you want in the middle. Then shape the rice in your hands – you can use plastic wrap if you feel more comfortable not touching the rice – and shape it into a triangular shape. (I ended up adding more rice on top and then trying to form it into some sort of ball, but you know how this ended up...) Add some more sesame seeds to garnish. Cut up the nori to wrap the rice ball in. This is best served at room temperature, so enjoy immediately, or at least, soon thereafter. (And if this doesn't work out for you, that's OK. Make rice bowls!)
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Matthew said...

egg is the way to go on this one! xoxo

Abby (Diligent Joy) said...

That fried egg looks amazing! I love how clean Japanese food feels.

Noelia G. Arce said...

I like it!! it´s awesome. hmmmm
I recomended you this page, it´s about extra virgin oil

Ariel said...

They look great! Perfect and nourishing and easy to eat on the move. I read a book recently called Health on Your Plate that inspired me to eat more simple, whole foods, and this recipe looks like it would fit that perfectly. I'm excited to try it. Thank you!

Marie Matter said...

YUM! Love that fried egg!

Sara in America said...

yum. i'm doing it. my matt also dislikes salmon. WHAT GIVES, MATTS OF THE WORLD?

Eileen said...

Cleansing: no. My body needs food, and it's going to get it! :) These onigiri bowls look great! We usually just make our onigiri from 100% rice, with no filling, but now I'm getting inspired to go and find some salmon and scallions...

Anonymous said...

just want to throw something into your "tip pit" you can use a sandwich bag to make onigiri, see this link. I did it once and it worked VERY well. http://www.justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/making-onigiri-with-a-plastic-bag

Kara said...

Obviously I am most obsessed with the cleanse statement in your post! That's sort of exactly how I feel (except I've been feeling a weird urge to cleanse this week) - thank you for articulating it so clearly!

Also, this looks absolutely delicious. Howzabout we eat it and then head straight for the Jade Room?

Manola said...

One of my favorite sandwiches is Camembert and umeboshi on crusty baguette. Trust me, you'll like it.

amelia said...

Omg. that sounds amaaaaazing. Thank you!! Cannot wait to try.

amelia said...

Ha!! Thanks for the tip!!

Tunie said...

Umeboshi is great added to homemade salad dressings - my go to used to be 1/2 cup olive oil, tsp of umeboshi or to taste, 1/4 cup tamari sauce, Tbl lemon, spoonful of honey to taste, 1 grated garlic clove, 1"grated ginger, pinch red chili flakes.

Gemma Chew said...

YUM! I love japanese food! totally agree with how clean and light it feels :) x

Ashley Bee said...

Ohh so cool! I haven't been too adventurous with Japanese food--I think I've only made stir frys--but this looks like an awesomely light and delicious meal!

Shelley said...

Pepper on eggs?

jo. said...

Hi Amelia! That looks delicious! Glad to see the Zojirushi is working out well. :)

zuzazak said...

hey i've just discovered korean food on my visit to NYC. if you're in the area you may just love this restaurant i went to;



CSUF Food Spots said...

Yum! That sounds great!

For information on cool eating spots in the Fullerton are visit:

Mary Anne said...

I don't understand this question, Shell!

Mary Anne said...

This reminds me of Niwana! I want to go get sushi and korean food all at once with you!

abrownfield said...

Just FYI. Sticky Rice is not the same as Sushi Rice. Sticky Rice is sometimes called glutinous rice and it'll form into balls very easily.