Are you looking for an easy way to jazz up your weekday lunch?
All over Tokyo, food courts and convenience stores sell triangles of sticky rice filled with all sorts of wonderful goodies. Called onigiri, these snacks fit easily in the palm of your hand, are quite filling, and are very affordable – many cost the equivalent of $1 or less. Our whole family enjoyed sampling onigiri filled with pickles, plums, smoked salmon, and even hard boiled eggs. Our favorite were the plum-filled snacks, which we are creating today.
You can shape the rice into triangles with your hands pretty easily, or you can order an onigiri mold for about $2 online:
Either way, these treats are pretty simple to make, and are a fun way to enjoy a bit of Japanese food culture. Have fun!
Ingredients (Makes 12 onigiri)
1 1/2 cups medium grain sushi-style rice
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup rice vinegar (or substitute white vinegar)
1 tablespoon sugar
12 dried plums (prunes)
1/2 cup umeshu (plum wine)
1 sheet nori (the dried seaweed used for maki sushi rolls such as California rolls)
Step 1) Rinse rice several times in cold water until water drains clear.
Step 2) After rinsing, combine rice, water, and salt in a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low, cover, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Step 3) Gently transfer cooked rice to a large bowl and spread rice up the sides of the bowl (gently!) with a rubber spatula.
Step 4) Combine rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Microwave for a few seconds until lukewarm. Stir until sugar dissolves. Then, drizzle the vinegar mixture all over the rice.
Step 5) Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the rice over a few times to distribute the vinegar as evenly as possible without mashing the rice. Spread the rice up the sides of the bowl again. The rice should look glossy. Cover the bowl with a slightly damp cloth and let sit at room temperature for one hour.
Step 6) While rice is resting, prepare the plums. In a microwave safe bowl, pour umeshu wine over dried plums. Cover loosely and microwave until umeshu is hot. Let sit on counter, covered, until rice is ready.
Step 7) Fill onigiri mold 1/2 full with rice. Place a wine-soaked dried plum (blotted dry with a paper towel) in the center of the mold, and top with rice until the mold is full. Press gently so that the rice sticks together, encasing the plum, and gently release the rice from the mold (using an onigiri mold is very easy!). Repeat this process to make 12 onigiri triangles.
Step 8) Cut strips from the sheet of nori and wrap around each onigiri triangle as desired. I placed a wide rectangle under each triangle and folded it up the front and back, as shown in the photo above. Use as much or as little nori as you wish; the nori simply makes the onigiri triangles easy to hold.
Step 9) If desired, garnish the top of each onigiri with sesame seeds, decorative sea salt, or small shapes cut from nori. Enjoy!