(or, I Fail as a Japanese Housewife)
This is so simple, it’s almost a non-recipe. Onigiri are a Japanese snack food, essentially rice balls filled with a salty/savory filling. (Wikipedia Entry.) I’ve been interested in this for a while, and finally decided to take the plunge and try this out.
There are no real amounts in this recipe. Go out and buy a bag of sushi rice at your local Asian market or megamart. I had gotten a package of smoked salmon as a treat for Jason, so I had that for filling. I also made a batch of decided not-Japanese-influenced tuna salad to go in there as well.
Make the sushi rice according to the directions, and let it cool thoroughly (*). Have a bowl of heavily salted water ready – sushi rice is akin to Elmer’s glue, but saltwater is the magical solvent that keeps it from sticking too much to your hands. Put a heaping spoonful or two in the palm of your wetted hand, then add a little bit of filling, then cover with another spoonful. Form into a ball around the filling. If you’re creative, form into a triangle or other shapes – this is my failing. I was only able to produce rice balls, of varying size and compactness. You can even get molds to produce onigiri in adorable little Hello Kitty shapes or the like.
An alternative approach, a bit cleaner on the hands, is to use a square piece of plastic wrap instead. Place the rice in the center of the square, top, cover, and bring the corners together and form into a ball.
Top these rice delicacies with toasted sesame seeds or poppy seeds (adds a nice little crunch), cover and throw in the refrigerator. They’ll keep as long as you think the filling will keep. Sushi rice is so sticky, these hold really well. In Japan, you may find them wrapped in a piece of nori (seaweed) to make eating a little neater – I had no such luck, but it wasn’t too bad.
I want to try this with other traditional rice combinations – first on my list is to use spiced ground beef and onion, or other spicy flavors.
Tuna salad – Two carrots, two ribs of celery, two cans of chunk light tuna packed in water (or the tuna of your choice), a good whack of mayonnaise (about half a cup), a spoonful or two of mayonnaise, juice of a lemon, salt, lots of fresh ground pepper, chopped caraway seeds (optional), and whatever else strikes your fancy (I like bell peppers or scallions as well, but they are occasional ingredients). Chop everything up finely – it’s a great way to practice your knife skills – and mix in a bowl. It’s better after resting overnight in the refrigerator, but it’s good right away.
(*) – No, really, let it cool. There’s enough sticky starch on this rice, if it’s not well cooled, you’ll spread hot napalm on your hands that will not come off before causing blisters. Ow.
Oh, and if you’re reading this, then the new blog publishing interface in Microsoft Word 2007 Beta 2 is working! I got tipped to this at the Houston WordPress meetup today.