Do It Yourself Onigiri (Rice Balls)

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In Japan, in fact, more and more in the US, Bento lunches are popular, not to mention cute! Just do a Google search to see lots of adorable ideas. I am really not interested in making cutie patootie Bento lunches, but I do love a good onigiri (rice ball) for lunch. And sushi! Don’t even get me started! I like sushi so much, I introduced my Honey to it and he has come to like it too. Unfortunately, I am not a sushi master; that takes years of training and skill. On the other hand, I can make a pretty good onigiri or nori wrap with brown rice.

Simple brown rice onigiri
Simple brown rice onigiri

Yesterday, I posted about how happy I was to discover that Costco now carries roasted seaweed, which is the same as nori. So today I am posting about a little lunch I made for Mr. M and I. First I cooked some a lot of short grain brown rice in my trusty pressure cooker. My intention was to make waaay more than I needed for lunch and to freeze the extra.  More about how I freeze rice later. For now, here is how I made lunch yesterday:

Short grain rice when cooked properly is shiny, sticky, silky and had a very slight al dente resistance to the bite. It is not mushy or watery. When a handful is molded into a ball while the rice is warm, it will stick together and hold its shape. It is also perfect for making sushi.

Once the rice is cooked. I spread it out on my bamboo cutting board and cooled it with my hair dryer set on low . The flat spatula is what I use to scoop and spread the rice to cool it. I cool it until it is easy to handle. My aunt used to cool hers with a hand held fan: I find it easier with a hair dryer. Just be sure not to let the dryer get too close or you will have rice everywhere. Don’t ask me how I know!

Cooling-rice
Cooling the rice for onigiri

Frequently, onigiri is filled with dried bonito or other fish. I don’t keep dried fish on hand much but I do have sardines that I also bought at Costco. They are very handy, not to mention tasty!

Costco-Sardines

Sardines-in-a-can

I broke the sardines up and added a small amount of mayonnaise and homemade sriracha style sauce. I laid out some nori and spread a thin layer of rice on about 2/3rds of it. I added some of the sardine mixture and a thin slice of red onion. I rolled the nori up and it will stick to itself where the nori is not covered.

Fill-the-nori

One little packet of the nori will make a lot of rice rolls. The sheets can also be simply used to hold the onigiri. If you want to be really fancy look up on the internet to see what some creative people do with their onigiri in their Bento boxes!

One-of-many

And yes, there  is some of the sardine filling in the onigiri pictured above in the beginning of this post. Yum!!

Oh yes, about the extra rice. I know that brown rice and other whole grains take a while to cook conventionally, so I use my trusty Fagor pressure cooker. And I cook extra every time because I think it is more efficient. I freeze the extra in meal sized portions with my FoodSaver.  I recently discovered that FoodSaver has seal and steam freezer bags! I tried one recently, I froze some corn kernels and cooked them in my microwave for dinner. Fantastic!!

Steamable-bags
Here is my rice prepped and ready for freezing:

Sealing

sealing-rice

There is a pleat in the bottom of these bags and when they are microwaved they puff up and steam the contents. These bags are a little expensive so I watch for a sale then I buy a few.

I hope this post has encouraged you to try your hand at making your own onigiri. Not only are they delicious and easy to make, you can fill them with you personal preference for fillings! When you use brown rice and nori, you will add vitamins and minerals to you diet in a delicious way! With my precooked and frozen rice, I can whip a quick lunch anytime. Try it yourself and make your life a little easier!

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