Onigiri Japanese Rice Ball おにぎり [Recipes, All Seasons 1年通]

日本語のレシピは ビーガン情報サイト”Hachidory"で ご覧ください。

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I am experiencing the warmest November since I came back to Japan 13 years ago.   

When it is sunny,  the temperature sometimes goes up as if it is still late summer, but the air is already like the one of winter, that means dry and sharp, not humid, and the sky looks higher up with clearer blue color.  

However, morning and night are already very chilly like winter.

So I am using the stove to make my room warm and yutampo/hot water bag to keep myself warm.   

And lots of heat generating cooking! 

Simmering vegetables and beans in clay pots are necessities for me during cold seasons.

It is well known even among Japanese people that November is the month of celebration of Thanksgiving day for Americans and Canadians.

But many Japanese people are not aware that Japan also has a similar holiday in November.

It is November 23 and is called "勤労感謝の日, Kinrohkanshanohi", which literally means labor thanks day.

There is a history about this "labor thanks day" why it was named this way and why it became a holiday.

I think most of the people have not paid attention to this holiday and do not know what actually "labor thanks" means, and how to celebrate this day.  (Japan has many holidays compared with other countries, and this holiday is not the only one that is not easy to understand why such holiday was created.)

Originally, it was the day to celebrate the harvests of the year, especially harvest of the rice.

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The rice was considered the soul of  Japanese, and people believed the god exists inside of each grain. 

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I am not sure if it is true or not, but I am sure that rice is very powerful, not only giving energy but also raising our vitality and making pure blood, when it is eaten unpolished and in Macrobiotic way.

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Rice is the most important staple in Japan even in this modern society.

Therefore I am encouraging people to express our gratitude for the fact that we are sorrounded by abundant of food, and also to eat newly harvested fresh rice on this date.

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"Onigiri/rice ball" is the best rice dish to appreciate the quality of rice (and also to feel the love of person who made it for you.)

It is the most popular rice dish in Japan.  

Children bring to school for lunch, excursion and events.

Family often bring for picnic and outings.

Unfortunately they are sold in all the convenience stores and too easily available nowdays, young people do not bother to make onigiri by themselves any more.

(When I see the labeling of it, I feel like fainting as it is laden with chemical additives. The ingredients of the onigiri should be only rice, salt, nori sea vegetable and simple filling like salty plum or salty kombu with simple ingredients.)

Today, I am sharing the recipe of onigiri.

But actually it is so easy to make, you can make your original onigiri without following my recipe precicely.

Because onigiri is very personal dish that contains the love and the spirit of the cook,which are squeezed into the rice from his/ her hand, any shapes of onigiri is precious.

So use your bare hands, and do not use the plastic onigiri mould when you make it.

I like to eat the onigiri made by other people since I was young.

I could always see and feel their personalities in them.

Some make big round ones, some make very firm triangle ones, some make fluffy out shaped ones.   

Some make without nori sea vegetable, so the onigiri totally looks white.

Some cover all the surface with nori, so it looks totally black.  

May be you can celebrate "勤労感謝の日/Kinrohkanshanohi"  by cooking lots of rice and throwing onigiri making party.

Onigiri おにぎり

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Ingredients (for 3 balls)

Warm steamed rice from 1 cup (180ml) of rice

*refer to brown rice recipe.  (Sorry, t is written only in Japanese.)

1/2 tsp salt

1 sheet nori

Filling of your choice

(Most traditional one is umeboshi/salty preserved plum)


1.  Prepare water in a small bowl to wet your hands.

2.  Put the 1/3 of warm steamed rice in a rice bowl,  Upside down the bowl on the cutting board or plate.



3. Make a hole with your finger at the center, and place the filling of you choice.

A traditional filling, Umeboshi, preserved salty plum


Left over tofu mushrom vegetable saute filling

4.  Wet your hands, put salt on your palm of non dominant hand.


5. Transfer the rice onto the hand with salt, and cover the filling with sorrounding rice.



6.  Roll the rice in your hands to distribut the salt to all the surface, then the rice becomes round shape without your intention.


7.  Now use your dominant hand to change into triangle shape by using the inner part of the knuckles of the forefinger and the middle finger to form the angle of triangle. 



8.  Place the nori on the cutting board with the long side horizontal to you, and cut into 4 long rectangle sheets.


9.  Place a piece of cut nori with longer side horizontal to you.

10.  Place the onigiri at the center to alighn the bottom edge of nori and the botom edge of onigiri.   

11.  Overlap left side of onigiri with left side nori, and then right side with right side nori as if you are wearing the kimono on onigiri.


12. Fold back the popping out nori to the bottom of onigiri to make it look neat.


When you bite...




*As onigiri is something very personal, there's no success nor failure.   Just enjoy what you have made.

*It will be much easier if you refer to the moving motion.  You can find many Youtube sites under the search of "how to make onigiri” or "how to make triangle shape onigiri".

Variation of Onigiri

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Corn rice onigiri with Shiso leaf wrapping. 
So yummy when the corn is fresh and sweat in the summer.

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Yakionigiri, grillled with soy sauce

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Rice mixed with salty plum and chopped leaves of radish

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Onigiri wrapped with Takana leaf pickle with the grinded sesame topping

Happy onigiri making !

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