How to Make Japanese Rice Balls

Rice balls are a popular dish in Japan and are known as onigiri in the Japanese language. It is shaped in a round form which is the reason behind the name. Onigiri is an essential component of Japanese food and can be made using a variety of ingredients as filling like salmon, beef, turkey etc. Rice balls are satisfying for the appetite and rich to serve as both lunch and dinner. The balls are shaped using the palm of the hand and the process can get quite messy.

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min
Total time: 50 min
Yield: 8 balls

Uncooked short-grain white rice: 4 cups
Water: 4 ½ cups
Water: 1 cup
Salt: ¼ teaspoon
Bonito shavings (dry fish flakes): ¼ cup
Nori (dry seaweed), cut into 1/2-inch strips: 2 sheets
Sesame seeds: 2 tablespoons


  • 1

    Wash the rice well, until the water colour is clear and the rice are well cleaned. Pour the 4 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan. Now add the rice to the water. Turn on the heat to high settings and bring the water to boil. Stir occasionally so that the rice does not get stuck. After boiling point, reduce the heat and cover the rice. Let the rice simmer so that the water is totally absorbed in the rice. The simmer time is around 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice get cool and tender in the steam.

  • 2

    Take a small bowl. Add to it 1 cup water with the salt. Mix the salt well. Wash your hands and dry them well and dampen them with this salt solution. Divide the rice you prepared above into eight portions, one for each onigiri ball.

  • 3

    Divide each potion into two. Create a small dent in the rice and fill this with a teaspoon of bonito flakes. You can also add any other filling of your choice like beef, pork and salmon at this stage. There are many different things that you can add for filling which will add your own personal twist to this recipe. Cover this dent with the other part of rice and make a rice ball with the help of your palms by rolling it in your hands. Sprinkle over sesame seeds over the ball. Do the same for the rest of the balls. You can also wrap the balls in a strip of nori if you do not want the sesame topping.

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