Onigiri with Cute Faces

Onigiri With Faces_August2014

Hey, it’s just me (Rachael) today, as Natalie is off studying. I have been craving really good home cooked food these past few days since we were away much of the last week. I know I mentioned that we were going on some college visits in the last post, but I did not expect the whole week to be so busy! We left on Tuesday and drove seven hours to Pittsburgh where we visited Carnegie Mellon (which was super awesome, by the way). The day after we drove to Cleveland for Natalie to visit Case Western, and after that we went to Oberlin, which is just Southwest of Cleveland. Right after the open house at Oberlin was finished we got into the car and drove all the way back to Niskayuna, New York. We got home around one… in the morning.

And of course, the next day we left the house again to drive to Amherst to see our family. Thankfully it was a much shorter ride than Oberlin to Niskayuna had been, but we were pretty exhausted. Now we’re all home and rested up, having finally slept in our own beds for a few nights.

I filled this one with leftover pork in our fridge and the rest had pickled vegetables.

I filled this one with leftover pork in our fridge and the rest had pickled vegetables.

So now that I’m not too sleep deprived, I have something adorable to share with you today (don’t worry, it’s yummy, too!): onigiri. In case you’re not familiar with them, onigiri are rice balls, often filled with… pretty much anything. Some more traditional fillings are umeboshi (pickled plums) and shiozake (salted salmon), but feel free to chop up some cold cuts or throw in some cooked vegetables. As long as your filling isn’t too watery (as too much liquid makes the rice fall apart) and fits within the rice, you’re good to go.

Today I’ll be filling mine with some mysterious pickled vegetables from Japan. My cousins were in Japan this past year and they brought us back some cool stuff. Among other things, they brought some pickled vegetables back. Of course, it’s all written in Japanese so we are at a complete loss as to what they actually are. I’ve been meaning to try them for ages and today is the day that I can finally taste whatever the hell is in these bags!

Pickled Japan Veggies for Onigiri_August2014

Servings: 4-6 onigiri

Note: For the rice, try to find a variety of sushi rice, such as koshihikari or calrose. If you can’t find sushi rice (it will probably be labeled as such) you can use most short and medium grain rices, but don’t use long grain as it won’t stick together.


  • 1 cup of sushi rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • Filling (I used pickled vegetables, but you can use any leftovers you have!)
  • A bowl of saltwater (dissolve 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl of water)
  • 1 package of nori (you only need a few sheets)

Place the rice in a bowl or pot and cover with cold water. Stir the rice until the water becomes very cloudy. Pour into a colander and rinse off the rice. Put it back into the bowl/pot and repeat. The water should gradually become less cloudy. Do this six or seven times or until the water is much clearer.

Put the rice in the pot with one cup of water. Place over high heat until the water starts to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for fifteen minutes. After fifteen minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice rest for ten minutes covered (keep the rice covered!).

Place the rice in a bowl and let it rest until it is cool enough to handle. Mix salt and water in a bowl until the salt is dissolved. Wet your hands with the salt water and take 1/3 to 1/2 cup of rice, spreading it onto your palm to create an oval. Place a spoonful of your filling into the middle of the rice and fold the sides together until the filling is hidden in the middle.

If you don’t want to use your hands to do this, then place the rice in a square of plastic wrap and spread it into an oval. Then place the filling in the middle of the rice and use the plastic wrap to fold the rice over itself, molding the ball into whatever shape you want (triangle, ball, cylinder, etc.).

Cut the nori into pieces of desired thickness to cover the outside or to make faces on the onigiri (for the eyes and mouth I used scissors, for the larger pieces I used a knife). Stick the pieces of nori on and you’re done! Now you can eat the face off of your cute little rice balls—YAY!

Dead Onigiri_August2014


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