onigiri two ways

I love Japanese food and onigiri is one of my favourite things to order as well as dumplings and teriyaki noodles. I was excited to make my own when I saw the recipe in the book Tokyo cult recipes. there are several different flavour combos in the book but I decided to make the pork and ginger ones and invent a vegetarian one with leeks, spring onions, mushrooms and peas cook in dashi stock and soy. they where really yummy. if you are not familiar with onigiri the are basically rice balls. I eat them dipped in some soy sauce. they are usually stuffed with something but there is also yaki onigiri which is fried, I want to make those next. onigiri make great little snacks. the book is great a full of other Japanese recipes I want to try. I also made the katsudon which was really good.

pork and ginger onigiri

makes 8 small onigiri

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 200g minced pork belly
  • 2 cm piece of ginger grated or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons raw demerara sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 bowls cooked rice (see below)

for the rice you will need 300g Japanese white rice, with 430 ml water.

place the rice in a large bowl pour in some water and mix with your hands then immediately drain through a strainer. next sharpen the rice this is the Japanese term used for removing the excess starch by washing all the grains. the method in the book says to cup your hands like you are holding a baseball and plunge them into the rice and turn it 20 times then add some water, it will turn cloudy immediately discard the water and do this process again 3-4 times until the water is clear.

drain it in a strainer and let it rest for 20 minutes then place the rice in a heavy based sauce pan with a lid. add the required amount of water and let the rice sit for a bit so it absorbs some of the liquid. to cook cover with the lid and over a high heat bring to the boil and cook for 12 to 13 minutes  (after five minutes reduce the heat to a medium heat and remove the lid). take off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes so it swells up then stir with a spatula.

for the filling

heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and sautee the pork and ginger until it changes colour then add the soy, sugar, mirin, sake and pepper stirring until the liquid has almost evaporated then make onigiri

to do this wet your hands place a pinch of salt in your palm, take some rice with one hand and flatten it out and place the filling in the centre, then shape into a ball with the other hand. add a little more rice on top if needed, form into a triangle. you can add strips of nori by dipping them in water and sticking them on.

for the vegetarian option

  • 3 spring onions
  • 1 leek
  • 6 mushrooms. I used a selection but shiitake would be perfect
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • 50g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. soy
  • 3 tbsp. dashi
  • 1 tpsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp. Seaweed flakes or bonito flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 4 bowls of cooked rice see above

cut the leeks and spring onions really finely and add into a pan and Sautee then add mushrooms which are also finely chopped (you could pulse these in a food processor first if you like). sautee with the ginger then add the soy, mirin and dashi stock and peas and cook until the liquid has almost gone then stir in the bonito flakes and sesame seeds. mix the rice vinegar with the cooked rice and mix in the cooked mixture and form into balls. flatten and stick on some nori.


  • Ruth Miranda

    June 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Onigiri always makes me think of a dream like state – oneirism, perhaps, comes to mind because both words sound similar? Whenever I see onigiri I am always reminded of a certain movie I once saw I cannot for the life of me remember the name, and I’m not even sure it was japanese or Korean. It was something very dream like, about a couple who kept traveling along, and one of the scenes was so dream like, with her long trailing red dress, the woman walking through the snow… it was one of the strangest films I ever saw, but I loved it very much. This was years ago, in a phase where I would only watch Japanes and Chinese movies – Must have watched all the Chen Kaiges and Zhang Yimous of that time! – and they always left such an impression on me. This has nothing to do with food, but actually it has. My curiosity for asian food began right there, watching those films and seeing the food in those films. It made me research a lot, and that’s gotta be good, no?

  • Maria

    June 7, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Both of these recipes look so perfect! Onigiri is the perfect thing to serve when there are people with multiple/different diet restrictions present. Something for everyone:)


Leave a Reply