Onigiri, or rice balls, are commonly brought by those who are going to sporting events or when viewing flowers (Hanami time). They are common in bento boxes as they are easy to prepare. Aside from that, they still taste good even when they have already cooled down. Inside the onigiri are pickled plums or fish roe. Common shapes of onigiri are oval and triangle.
Onigiri is not difficult to prepare. What you basically need are the following:
- boiled rice
- roasted sesame seeds
- fillings: pickled plums, smoked salmon, or anything you would like
Make sure that your hands are clean before you prepare them. Get them a bit wet with water before you start preparing them.
- In your hand put a bit of salt and sesame seeds and also around half a cup of rice. Cup it all in your hand.
- Make a hole in the center of that cupped rice and put in your favorite fillings.
- Cover the fillings with rice. Press firmly with hands to ensure that the filling is secure.
- Squeeze it so it will be oval or triangular in shape. It’s up to you which shape you would have.
- Wrap nori around it.
It is quite simple, isn’t it? You could even teach your children how to prepare this food. Whether you are the kind of person who lives home alone or you have a family to take care of, onigiri will easily be staple in your home.
In the Heian period, this was called tonjiki. It was food given to the lower class by the nobility. Later on, people were also making the leftover rice rolled into balls, broiled and they put soysauce as flavoring. It was called yakimusubi. Currently anything goes as fillings in onigiri.
Check out the different bento boxes. They would usually have prettily made onigiri. Regardless of how simple this meal could be, it is flavorful and could be prepared differently. It is not just about the shape of the onigiri. It could also be through the amount and shape of nori you will use to wrap it. What matters is that this food is enjoyed by the person eating it.