Monday, January 25, 2010

it was my very light and simple brunch today, perhaps not super exciting but very pleasant and easy. if i was more energetic, i would have added a tasty miso soup to this, and maybe a blanched spinach with sesame dish and a pickle. see marie's plain onigiri and melon lunch here for inspiration. and a hello sandwich homemade bento sets the standard for delightful lunches! i cannot take as lovely photos as those two lovely ladies, but today my brunch was:

plain onigiri and basil onigiri
dashimaki tamago (rolled omelette)
white nectarine (these are so cheap and so delicious at the moment)

i think i have been super slack on posting any food or recipes on ii-ne-kore, so...i have some ideas for all vegetarian onigiri below there. these little rice balls are great for picnics, lunchboxes, anytime, anywhere, really. the ultimate japanese takeaway food, and very vegetarian friendly. i lived on these in japan, and still can't believe no one makes and sells them takeaway here. the ubiquitous rolled sushi is taking over the world, while the humble onigiri bides its time...

i will show how to make dashimaki tamago soon, too. (mine was a bit slapdash and dodgy-shaped, i don't have a nice square tamagoyaki pan - japanese rolled omelette pan - yet.)

onigiri (rice balls)

::some things you will need::
rice cooker or saucepan
rice paddle or spoon

2 cups japanese short-grain rice
5-6 large leaves basil
table salt

::how to::
1. cook the rice in a rice steamer or using the steam method in a stovetop saucepan. i don't recommend boiling it as it often ends up a bit wet that way i find. you want that nice semi-sticky vibe in your cooked rice.
2. cool the rice to a temperature that is comfortable to handle by placing in a big bowl and turning and spreading out with a rice paddle or spoon, allowing some of the heat to dissipate.
3. shred the basil leaves very finely with a sharp knife.
4. place half of the plain rice in a separate bowl and mix through the shredded basil leaves. set aside. you now have two bowls of cooked rice ready for onigiri making.
5. dip your hands in a bowl of water and shake off excess. lightly sprinkle your palms with 1/8 tsp salt - these are little ones, and you don't want them too salty - and shake off excess then rub hands together.
6. place enough warm plain rice in the palm of your hand to make a ball about 1.5 times size of ping pong ball.
7. using your other hand press and rotate around in your palm until it forms a round ball that sticks together well, and the surface is lightly coated with the salt from your hands.
8. place completed onigiri on a waiting plate and get started on the next one by lightly dipping your hands in water and shaking off excess, then lightly sprinkling your hands with salt and shaking of excess.
9. repeat for two or three more balls (it depends on the size of your onigiri and how much rice you have).
10. repeat this process with the other bowl of warm rice with basil mixed through.

hey presto! a delicious snack onigiri lunch. the salt helps to preserve the cooked rice, so these can be safely placed in a picnic basket or bento box and kept at room temperature (avoid hot places though) until lunchtime.

::7 other mixed onigiri flavours to try - one for each day of the week::
all of these can be substituted for the basil rice described above. double the quantities mentioned if you want to forgo the plain ones and make these flavours from your entire 2 cups of rice

a) marie's mint and peas onigiri (blanch a handful of peas in salted water. shred 5-6 large mint leaves finely with a sharp knife. mix through cooked rice and make as per basil onigiri)

b) smith street butter corn onigiri (lightly saute a handful of corn kernels in 1 tsp butter. mix through cooked rice and make as per basil onigiri. also try mixing through a sprinkle of parsley with this.)

c) green shiso onigiri (green shiso is a japanese herb. it is really super, and used often in japanese cooking. they look like this. you can get these fresh leaves at some speciality japanese stores. you can also grow it - in australia, diggers seeds sells shiso seeds online. it is called perilla in english. shred shiso finely with a sharp knife then mix through cooked rice and make as per basil onigiri.)

d) aonori and egg onigiri (aonori is an almost powdered seaweed available at all japanese speciality stores. it looks like this and is most often used as a sprinkle for okonomiyaki. lightly beat 1 free range and very fresh egg. add 1/2 tsp soy sauce and mix though. heat a small amount of oil in a small frypan and scramble the egg, taking off heat when still slightly moist so you don't overcook it. chop scrambled egg into random small bits. mix 1 tbsp aonori and egg bits through rice and make as per basil onigiri.)

e) daikon leaf furikake onigiri (cut the green leaves from the top of a fresh daikon. daikon looks like this. wash the leaves well and then blanch for a couple of minutes in lightly salted water. drain and refresh under cold water. dry well in paper towel or similar, then chop finely with a sharp knife. heat 1 tsp sesame oil in a frypan and fry leaves for a few minutes. add a small splash of normal soy sauce (eg kikkoman) and continue frying, tossing lightly. remove from heat. in a separate small frypan lightly toast 1 tbsp white sesame seeds. add these to the cooked daikon leaves and mix through. mix the daikon leaf furikake through cooked rice and make as per basil onigiri. it is also really nice with egg bits like the aonori combo above. the daikon leaf furikake is also nice sprinkled straight onto a bowl of cooked rice at dinnertime.)

f) umeboshi onigiri (you can buy japanese pickled plum - actually it is apricot, but is commonly referred to as plum - from all japanese specialty stores and most asian grocers. it looks like this. you can get them whole, or as a paste. either is fine. if you use the whole ones, remove the stone and roughly chop the flesh before assembling the onigiri. take the plain warm rice in your palm and half-form the onigiri. then make a little well and push in 1 tsp umeboshi flesh or paste. push the rice back around the umeboshi core and continue making your onigiri as per plain onigiri.)

g) surigoma onigiri (lightly toast 1 tbsp white sesame seeds in a dry frypan. ligtly grind warm sesame seeds in a mortar and pestle. mix through cooked rice and make as per basil onigiri.)


  1. Delicious Bree! Your photo is just beautiful! What lovely light!
    Oh and you have to get yourself a Japanese egg pan - they are so handy!
    Love Love
    Hello Sando

  2. whatever you say thats a nice photo!

    ive been meaning to get some umeboshi for a while, i think they stock it vacume packed in a health food shop near me. love sesame in onigiri too. yum:)

  3. Thanks a lot for this recipe!! I've seen the movie
    KAMOME SHOKUDĂ” and since then I would like to eat them. Also a very kindy movie!

  4. the rice balls I mean, for sure.

  5. i really like onigiri!!:)

  6. ha ha - yes! i can;t believe i don;t have a tamagoyaki pan here in oz...thanks marie for the inspiration, and yes, for sure, my nearest organis place sells really nice umeboshi as well...hi miri=eille - i really want to see that movie too, after seeing it on hiki's too chocolate cup:)

  7. I love onigiri, and i have an onigiri hair cut - that's what people tell me anyway :)
    I may sound boring but my favourit ones are the real basic ones like ume, shake, and tarako like the lady from the kamome shokudo ;) but I also looooooove "tenmusu" oh yum yum!

  8. just remembered about this book i wanted to get a long time ago :

    doesn't it soud good? it has 100 different onigiri ideas and it's the onigiri version of the 100 miso soup recipe book i posted about in the past.

  9. i love your photo :-)
    maybe i will try an onigiri and send a photo to you. (i never made it before)

  10. hi hiki! yes, i like the basic ones best, too. that's why i tried to list the basic classics that i knew of? but by same token, am looking forward to hearing what others like/come up with!! and yes! love those '100' boks - i remember seeing them when i was in japan last, and having to physically restrain myself from buying up:)
    and hi renilde, ooooh, now that is something to absoloutely look forward to!!

  11. wow- thanks for posting all the variations, i love these and have always wanted to make some :)