Rice Balls

Onigiri is one of the more delicious things one can pick up at a Japanese store – hand-rolled rice balls with stuff in the middle, wrapped in nori. Making them at home isn’t super complicated, either, but I’ve found an even simpler way to do it.

Ingredients:

  • rice
  • water
  • rice vinegar (sub white vinegar if you don’t have it)
  • sugar
  • salt
  • nori
  • filling

For regular rice, you want two parts water to one part rice. For sushi rice, equal parts of each, and you rinse the rice first. Then, if you’re using a rice cooker, just flip it on. If you’re cooking it on the stove, put it on high with a lid on until it boils, then turn off the burner and let it sit for twenty minutes to half an hour.

When the rice is cooked, dump it out on a large cutting board or in a big bowl. Then, in a small bowl, cup, or shot glass (we had so few dishes in Russia), mix a little bit of vinegar with some salt and sugar. If you’re using white vinegar instead of rice vinegar, use a little sugar. It should still be really liquid, so toss that over the rice and gently mix it with your hands. The rice will be really hot, and handling it at this temperature is less than fun, so leaving it to cool for a while is super legit.

Next, the filling! I was feeding a bunch of people, so I made two different fillings: salmon and teriyaki chicken.

Salmon ingredients:

  • can of salmon
  • capers
  • horseradish sauce (sub wasabi if available)

Open the can of salmon! Drain it, then drop it in a bowl and add the capers (I used half a jar because that’s what I wanted to use up) and enough horseradish sauce to make it kind of sticky – or however much it takes to get it as spicy as you want.

Chicken ingredients:

  • ground chicken
  • probably teriyaki seasoning???
  • a bunch of the slightly-sweeter soy sauce you can get in Europe
  • salt and pepper

Brown the meat and add all the seasoning. It’s yummy.

Assembling the rice balls:

  • Lay down a sheet of nori. Yes, the whole sheet.
  • Scoop a generous portion of rice into the middle.
  • Add stuff to the middle – enough so that there’ll be a strong flavor and you’re likely to get some in every bite, not so much that you can’t close it.
  • Little bit more rice on top!
  • Fold all four corners of the nori to the middle – it should all be firm, but not necessarily overlapping.
  • Squeeze firmly: it’ll want to come apart.

Pretty much any kind of filling will work well: eventually I want to try them with umeboshi.

Miso Soup with Stuff In

We had miso soup packets sitting around that were expiring soon. I think I got them all, but I might have left a breeding population, in which case we’ll have another set of miso soup packets to use up in a couple months. And, obviously, I made soup with them. But T doesn’t like soup that’s mostly broth – neither do I, really, but not to the point of not eating it. So I made a meal soup that turned out surprisingly delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 3 miso soup packets
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1 thing of sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • handful or two of string beans/green beans – the kind not from a can
  • sweet soy glaze or other marinade

I started off a couple days ago slicing the block of tofu into slices and sticking it in a container with marinade – making sure there was marinade between each slice. I went with sweet soy glaze, because it was right there in the store looking convenient. I think it worked really well, though – didn’t overpower the taste of the mushrooms.

Then today I rinsed the mushrooms and sautéed them in butter, low and slow. I cleaned the string beans, too, and cut them into bite-sized bits. Once the mushrooms were done, I put the mushrooms in a bowl with the string beans and started the tofu in the same pan – luckily it was large enough to hold all of the slices, but you might have to do it in batches. I raised the temperature to the low end of medium.

When I flipped the tofu, I also started about 4 cups (probably?) of water to boil. When the water got hot but not yet simmering, I threw in the beans and mushrooms. I wanted just the edge off the crispness of the beans, but not for them to be super cooked.

The tofu started to look about done, so I used a spatula to cut it into little cubes. Extra firm tofu still gives way really easily. I turned down the heat, but left the tofu on. When the soup came to a boil, I added the miso packets, turned the heat down, and dumped in the tofu. Give that like a minute, turn off the heat, and serve.

It’s delicious!

If you’re not strictly vegetarian, add a dash or five of Worcestershire Sauce to round out the flavor a bit (it’s got anchovies in it, so not exactly vegetarian-friendly).