Onigiri are best eaten on the day they are made, however, leftovers are great pan-fried the next day. Avoid wrapping the rice in the nori too early or it will become soggy. This doesn’t affect the flavour though, and, in fact, triggers memories for many Japanese people of their packed school lunches of these rice balls.
- 540 g (3 cups) short-grain rice
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp white miso paste (see Note)
- ¼ tsp ichimi togarashi (see Note), plus extra, to sprinkle
- ½ tsp Japanese sesame oil (see Note)
- 95 g canned tuna in brine, drained
- 3 tsp Japanese or good-quality mayonnaise
- 1 mentaiko (salted chilli Alaskan pollack roe) (see Note)
- 4 nori sheets
- ground red shiso (yukari) (see Note), to serve (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Wash rice and place in a rice cooker or large saucepan with 800ml water. Cook according to instructions in rice cooker, or cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until cooked; small steam holes should appear on the surface of the rice.
Combine onions, miso, ichimi togarashi, sesame oil, tuna and mayonnaise in a bowl.
When rice is cool enough to handle, divide it into 16 portions with wet hands and shape into balls. Make a deep hole in the centre of each ball with your finger. Fill 8 balls with one-eighth of the tuna mixture each and shape into a rough triangle, enclosing the filling. Cut mentaiko into 8 slices. Repeat filling and shaping remaining rice balls with mentaiko.
Just before serving, cut the nori sheets lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips, large enough to reach halfway up the sides of onigiri. Stand onigiri in the centre of each strip and lift both ends of the strip and press gently to rice to hold nori in place. Sprinkle with extra ichimi togarashi and ground red shiso to serve.
• White miso, from selected supermarkets and Asian food shops, is sweeter than red miso.
• Ichimi togarashi (ground cayenne) is from Asian food shops. Substitute chilli powder.
• Japanese sesame oil, available from Japanese and selected Asian food shops, is lighter in viscosity and flavour than the Chinese variety.
• Mentaiko is sold as a coated sack of roe and is available frozen at Japanese food shops. Defrost before use. Substitute a 5 cm-piece of other salted fish roe such as bottarga.
• Ground red shiso is from Japanese food shops.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 8, pg84.
Photography by Brett Stevens.