Unleash your culinary creativity with onigiri, Japan's beloved handheld meal with endless possibilities

The beauty of onigiri lies in its simplicity and customizability
In frame: Onigiri
In frame: OnigiriAP

Calling all sandwich lovers! Craving something similar but with a twist? Look no further than onigiri, Japan's answer to the classic handheld meal. Imagine a ball of rice filled with savory goodness, like a tiny treasure chest of flavor. Just like how Americans grew up with peanut butter and jelly between two slices of bread, onigiri is a staple food for most Japanese people.

We're sharing a basic onigiri recipe from Yuri Kageyama. The traditional filling is umeboshi, a salty pickled plum, but the beauty of onigiri lies in its endless possibilities. Fish, meat, vegetables, even cheese – anything that complements rice and fits comfortably inside is fair game! Don't be afraid to get creative!

In frame: Onigiri
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Now, for the fun part – shaping your onigiri! The classic triangular form is always a crowd-pleaser, but feel free to unleash your inner artist and mold it into any shape you like. Once you've crafted your masterpiece, it's time to dress it up with a nori (dried seaweed) wrap. One large strip or several bite-sized pieces, the choice is yours!

The beauty of onigiri lies in its simplicity and customizability. Some folks like a sprinkle of sesame seeds for added flavor, while others prefer oboro kombu, shaved kelp, for a touch of the sea. Of course, there's always the option to enjoy it plain and savor the pure taste of rice and filling. Whichever way you choose, get ready to embark on a delicious Japanese adventure!

Easy Onigiri

Start to finish: 5-7 minutes

Servings: 5 rice balls



¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup water

1 ½ cup Japanese rice, cooked to fluffiness

Three umeboshi salted Japanese plums (available at Asian food stores; for smaller umeboshi, use one for each rice ball)

Two sheets of dried nori seaweed


  • Add the salt to the bowl of water. Wet your hands with the salted water, pick up a handful of cooked rice, still hot but cooled enough so your fingers don’t burn.

  • Put umeboshi on top. Pick up another scoop of rice with your other hand, place it on top of the rice and umeboshi.

  • Cup your hands together, squishing gently.

  • Turn a few times in your hands so the rice becomes a slightly triangular ball. Wrap with nori.

  • Add any desired garnishes, such as sesame seeds or kombu.

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