Saturday, January 11, 2014

Oh! Onigiri: Riceballs of Sticky Goodness

Sushi is good times and all, but I'm just as happy with a nice, satisfyingly triangular onigiri.
That's onigiri, not to be confused with nigiri. And certainly not to be confused with oni.



Onigiri can have so much variety.
And comes in such a beautiful, hand-held better-than-a-sandwich level of convenience. And they're pretty cheap, too. And really filling. I love looking at the rows of conbini onigiri.
This one was in Osaka. In Tokyo Station, there's a whole store of onigiri!! Anyway, needless to say I have to try it out.
Here's a handy little illustration of the homemade process, just like grandma and her cat make:
Okay! We start with making rice. I used sushi rice, because, well, I don't know, what do I know? Seems like a good idea. You may have seen the Japanese method before, where you rinse the rice till the water is clear. One website says rinse 2 or 3 times, which was complete bullcrap. Maybe more like 2 or 3 minutes, and it still looks a slightly cloudy. Whatever. Good enough.

Then you dump in water with the rice in a pot, and 25 minutes later, it's done. Yay! Sticky rice! I'm not adding rice vinegar, because this is not sushi. But it's a million degrees steamy hot, and this activity uses your hands to shape the rice balls. Okay, so let's check on the filling part.
Last Japan trip, my favorite was the pickled mustard greens・高菜(takana).

 I found some pickled mustard greens at my favorite local Asian foodstuff store. Fresh Market had sashimi tuna steaks on sale for $5. Why not? And then there's pickled plum, because it's not Japanese until Pickled Plum comes to the party.

I clearly should have done as the grandma picture indicated and had a bowl of water and used wet hands to shape the balls. I had sticky grains of rice clinging to me like crazy and that was with using plastic wrap overtop. Also...triangles are harder than you think.

I was making progress, though. I think you have to make "L" shapes with your hands.

So, lessons learned: Use a bowl of water, no plastic wrap. Sashimi is nice and all, but what you need for onigiri is shredded style- easier to bite. Also, save the nori wrap till you're ready to eat, so it'll be nice and crisp. And this stuff takes a lot of rice. 1 cup dry rice yielded 4 onigiri of moderate size.

Next time: I'm going to try the baked/yaki onigiri. Oooooh.

 Here's some more onigiri from my trip:

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