This week’s recipe was for onigiri, Japanese rice balls. I’d never attempted anything like this before, and I couldn’t really manage to take pictures during the process (except the part where the rice was cooking, but that’s just boring). However, follow that little link and there are step by step photos and instructions. They were really fairly simple – the only time consuming part was all that rice washing and then waiting for the rice to cook. I used the rice instructions found here, following the directions for sushi rice except for the special broth part – I just used water. But I did go all out and actually bought the proper kind of rice, and rinsed like I was supposed to, and bought nori and a rice vinegar that was already sushi flavored. Or whatever.

The rice instructions involve a lot of one minute at this temp, 4 minutes at that temp, cool with a cloth over the pot kind of things, and mine ended up sticking to the bottom a tiny bit, and there were little chunks that were perhaps overcooked. The hazards of an electric stove. I even used the suggestion about drying with a hair dryer to make the rice glossy, or somesuch. At any rate, just a bit of drying and fluffing and tossing with the vinegar and it was plenty cool to handle.

I used my smallest rounded teacup, which holds about 1 cup, so I think my rice balls were a bit larger than suggested. I had cut the rice recipe in half, thinking that it would make mondo quantities of rice, as always seems to happen, but when your final product is 90% rice, the full batch of rice wouldn’t make all that much. I mixed half a can of albacore tuna with some soy sauce marinade to flavor it, and used that to stuff into the middles. I bought a package of little ‘spicy nori strips’ that came in a package reminiscent of fruit leather. Perfect size to, um, stick onto the side of a rice ball.

I ended up with 3 generous sized onigiri. I liked the ‘leave them wrapped in plastic if you’re going on a picnic’ suggestion so much that I’m taking 2 to the lake tomorrow. The other I devoured for lunch with the flavored tuna that wouldn’t fit in. It fell apart a bit halfway through so I bandaged it with a second strip of nori. It would be fun to try more fillings, but only if you were making a ton, because you’d only use up a speck of each type of filling.

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