How To Make Rice Balls (aka Onigiri)

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One of my favorite go-to snacks is onigiri, also known as Japanese rice balls, or just rice balls. I am not Japanese, but I became obsessed with onigiri thanks to the manga and anime, Fruits Basket. I have attempted many times over the years to make them, often failing, but then 2020 arrived and well we all know it has not been the best year. 

I ended up buying the wrong kind of rice. I usually get jasmine rice, but I ended up buying sweet rice on accident. 

Sweet rice is super sticky as we discovered and that gave me the idea to try making onigiri again. I strongly recommend using a mold if you are going to try making onigiri with sweet rice. It will stick to your hands like glue. 

For the first time, I accomplished making what I felt was the perfect rice ball, or at least close to it. I started making them constantly, just plain at first. Later I decided to try scrambling some eggs with green onions, so I could fill them, and it was the best decision ever. I have some canned tuna on hand, so I'll probably try a tuna and mayo filling later if I ever get tired of eggs. 

I shared a photo on my Instagram and surprisingly, quite a few people asked me how I made them. I by no means am an expert and these are not traditional, but here is my method:



Ingredients

First, you are going to need a couple of things:
  • Rice - Preferably a sticky kind. I used sweet rice. I could never get jasmine to work. 
  • Seaweed (Nori)

These are optional:
  • Rice cooker - You can use the stove too but as I'm half-Chinese, we eat a lot of rice, so a rice cooker is convenient and will keep the rice warm while you are making your rice balls
  • Onigiri Mold - You can shape rice balls with your hands, but if using sweet rice, which I found too sticky for hands, a mold comes in handy. Also makes it easier for fillings.
  • Rice Seasoning - This can be found in most Asian stories. You can also just use salt.
  • Filling - As I mentioned, I like fried eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper) and green onions in mine, but you can also do tuna, umeboshi, salmon, kimchi, chicken, etc (basically whatever you like). Or you can skip the filling altogether.
  • Soy Sauce - Traditionally this is not used, but I like to dip mine. 



Instructions

  1. Cook your rice either in a rice cooker or on the stove.

  2. Make your filling. To do fried eggs and green onion, I just make scrambled eggs in a frying pan and mix in chopped up green onion. For tuna, you can take a can of tuna, drain the can, and mix the tuna with some mayo in a bowl. 

  3. Fill your mold halfway with rice. You can use your finger to make an indent in the middle or use a small spoon. If you are not filling your rice, fill the mold to the top, and skip step 4 and 5.

  4. Put a little bit of filling in the center,

  5. Cover with more rice.

  6. Before popping the rice ball out of the mold, place a strip of nori on the center of the rice ball, just half-way (the other half will fold over to the other side). I find doing this before taking the rice ball out of the mold to be the easiest. Then push the rice ball out of the mold and finish wrapping the seaweed around it. 

  7. Place your riceball on a plate if you plan on eating right away or in a storage container for later. You can season it with rice seasoning or salt if you like. You can also dip in soy sauce, though not typically done, it is how I enjoy them.

  8. Enjoy! 

Also, check out my How-To video on Instagram! 



Video also available on TikTok!





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22 Comments

  1. My daughter would love these. She is obsessed with sushi and often makes mini sushi wraps. I will have to show her your recipe.

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  2. Yummy! I will be making this for the family. Always love new recipes. 👍🏻

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  3. This looks so good! I'm going to have to try making them soon!

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  4. Looks yum! I love all rice recipe and will def try this out. Thanks for the share

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  5. What a great idea for Valentine's Day dinner. We are planning more date nights in the upcoming year and this would be ideal.

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  6. This looks so nice. Thanks for sharing, I'll surly try it.

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  7. This is looks so interesting, thanks for sharing. I'll surly give it a try.

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  8. Wow! This looks good. It has been quite sometime since I had onigiri and never thought about doing DIY, I would love to try this. Thank you for sharing the recipe and detailed guide. Wish me luck. :)

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  9. I've always wondered how this made! Love it!

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  10. These look so good. My daughter is obsessed with rice, so she’d love them.

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  11. These look so yummy. I have never made these before, but I bet my kids would love them too!

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  12. I will admit. I have never had these before but they look delicious.

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  13. Mmm I love rice, especially when it is with sushi. This looks easy to make and it looks delicious.

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  14. This post makes me so happy and brings me back to my childhood. My grandma made these for us kids all the time. I'm part Japanese, she was 100%. I miss her.

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  15. I've never heard of rice balls before but they look delicious.

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  16. Oh I definitely need to try this!

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  17. I love to eat rice balls. Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to try.

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  18. This looks so good, I can't wait to try this recipe!

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  19. Rice balls sounds very tasty. my daughter would love this.

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  20. YUM! I've always wondered how to make this. Gotta try soon!

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  21. Those look delicious! My girls are also (as someone else above said) totally obsessed with sushi, so I bet they'd have fun making and eating this other Japanese rice treat! - looks great for a savory after-school snack!

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