Monday has arrived, so I want to share something fun to lighten the mood for this week.

Onigiri fillings

Onigiri.  Oh-nee-gear-eee.  Also known as Japanese rice balls.  Also known as a tasty, fun and interesting dinner.

They’re also great to snack on.  When I was in Taiwan, I would buy packaged onigiri at the nearest 7-Eleven practically every day.  Or multiple times a day.  Don’t blame me, there were 7-Elevens everywhere. 

When I went to Tokyo, I got to experience authentic onigiri.  Pure heaven, even if I can’t handle the more traditional fillings like umeboshi (pickled plums).  So I make mine with canned tuna.  (Which they do in Japan as well, so there.)

Luke’s were filled with a spicy mixture, while mine was mild.  I also sprinkled mine with furikake seasoning, a Japanese condiment, and wrapped them in nori (dried seaweed).  You can get furikake and nori at your local Asian supermarket, and if you can’t procure, the rice balls will still be great without them.

So if you’re feeling adventurous this week and want to try something new, I’d recommend onigiri.  It’s just so much fun to say and eat!

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls)

Makes about 10 rice balls (depending on how big you make them)

4 cups short grain (sushi) rice, cooked and cooled

1 can tuna, drained

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

¼ cup hummus

2 sheets of nori, cut into 2” strips

furikake seasoning for garnish

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package, or in a rice cooker.  Let the rice cool completely before starting assembly.

While the rice cools, make the fillings.  In a small bowl, scrape out half of the tuna, add mayo and hot sauce and mix until evenly combined with a fork.

In another small bowl, mix remaining tuna and hummus (with a different stirring apparatus).

Before you begin working with the rice, make sure your hands are wet.  This will keep the rice from sticking to you.  When the rice is cool, use a large spoon or rice paddle to scoop out about ½ cup of rice.  Cupping it in your palm, flatten the rice out and spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling in the center.  Close your palm and use your other hand to bring the rice ball together.  You can also shape the ball into the traditional triangle shape, but I think spheres are much cuter.

Once the rice ball is firmly packed and no filling can be seen, wrap a strip of nori around the ball and put it on a plate.  Garnish with furikake if desired.

Continue this process for remaining rice and filling, and enjoy!


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