Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

  • Serves

    makes 16

  • Cook

    1 hour 15 minutes


There are two different styles of onigiri: those that are stuffed and those that have seasonings mixed in. For the filled variety, umeboshi (pickled plums), cubes of salt-cured salmon, or tarako (cod roe) are often encased in the warm rice, and then eaten as is or wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). For others, seasonings like toasted black sesame seeds, yukari (red shiso powder), or sakebushi (dried salmon flakes) are simply mixed with the rice and then shaped into the typical triangle, ball, or cylinder shapes. Most importantly, when shaping the rice for onigiri, take care not to compact the rice too firmly. Press until the grains just hold together.


For Seasoned Onigiri:

For Filled Onigiri

  • Warm Japanese Boiled Rice
  • 16 tsp. cod or salmon roe, whole umeboshi, or cubes of salt-cured salmon
  • 16 (4-by-1-inch) sheets nori


Step 1

Scoop 1⁄4 cup warm rice into the palm of your hand and make an indentation in the rice. Place whole umeboshi, cube of salt-cured salmon, or cod or salmon roe in the indentation and then, using your hands, gently shape the rice around the filling into a triangle, ball, or cylinder.

Step 2

Using tongs, quickly wave nori over an open flame until fragrant, 5 seconds, and then wrap the onigiri in the toasted nori. Repeat with remaining rice and filling.

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