How to make ★Onigiri★8 Basic Rice Balls~基本のおにぎりの作り方~(EP77)

Posted on Posted in Japanese traditional recipes, Obento lunch Box

Today, I want to share with you, how to make Onigiri.

Onigiri means rice ball in Japanese.

This is the very basic of Japanese cuisine as you already know.


At the beginning of October, it’s the season for rice harvest.  We appreciate the newly cropped rice because it tastes special.

New rice has a special meaning to us, because the rice represents the “life” itself.


I will introduce you to 8 basic and popular onigiris, which you can find anywhere in Japan.


Let’s get started it!




4 cups of rice

4 cups of water

1 Umeboshi ※If you don’t have one, just skip it.


First, wash and clean the rice.  Detailed instruction is here → Japanese traditional breakfast

Pour water to cover, swirl your hand several times, pour out the cloudy water to another bowl.

Swish your hand in the bowl like rubbing each grain together.   Pour generous amount of water, then pour out the cloudy water.  Repeat the process , then take out onto the sieve.

※Water your plants with the cloudy water.  It’s nutritious and your plants grow well!

Cook in a rice cooker with a piece of Umeboshi.  As I said on the Bento video, Umeboshi has an anti bacterial effect, so if you cook with your rice,it would be safe to eat for several hours even in hot summer.


Now let’s prepare the fillings.


1.Salted salmon.

We can find salted salmon in any grocery store in Japan.  I don’t think this is an accessible ingredient almost all of the country.  Here is how I make salted salmon.

①Slice salmon fillet into 2cm slices, sprinkle 1 to 1.2% of salt of salmon weight on both sides.

②Let it sit overnight in the fridge.  The salmon would be sweat a little, that’s the sign of the salt penetrate into the flesh.

Line a piece of parchment paper in a frying pan, turn the heat to medium, place your salted salmon in a single layer.

Put the lid on and cook for 5 mins.  Flip, cook another 2 to 3 mintes or until it’s done.

Take out onto a tray, take off skin and bones.  Crumble the flesh into chunky flakes.

Transfer to a container.  You can keep the salmon flakes up to 5 days in the fridge.  Set aside until used.


2.Tuna mayonnaise.

A can of tuna (in soup)

2 tablespoon mayonnaise

A pinch of salt

Take out a can of tuna into a small bowl.  I am using tuna in soup, not in oil.  If you are using oil, reduce the amount of mayonnaise.

Add 2 tablespoon of mayonnaise and just a little bit of salt.  By using folk, smash the tuna into super fine, until it becomes almost like fiberous.  Set aside.


3.  Kombu kelp Tsukudani.

I am using store-bought kombu kelp today.

But you can make Kombu kelp Tsukudani from scratch, using your leftover of dashi-making.

Cut into thin strips and simmer in soy sauce and sugar source until soften.


4.Umeboshi : pickled Japanese plum

My homemade Umeboshi contains 15 % salt, with a hint of sweetness.

Use your favorite brand.


5. “Okaka”.   Bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce.

Take out a tablespoon of bonito flakes onto a tray, moisten with soy sauce.

Bonito flakes should be in smaller pieces.  Rub the bonito flakes from outside of the bag.


6. Ume- Tamago

1 Umeboshi ※Cooked with rice

1 large egg /a pinch of salt/ 1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon salted Kombu kelp

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed

2 cups cooked rice

My absolute favorite, Ume-Tamago.  This is a kind of my creation.  The balance between salt and Umami, and a hint of tanginess makes wonderful flavor.

Beat one egg and add a pinch of salt.  Heat the frying pan on low, grease the surface with sesame oil, pour the egg mixture and make scramble egg.  By using 4 chopsticks to make fine scramble.  Set aside.


The filling is all set, let’s assemble!

Before making Onigiri,・・・

・Wash your hands thoroughly. 

Don’t forget to rub your finger to wash nails.  and be sure to use soap with no fragrance.

・Tear Nori seaweed into desired size. 

Take one sheet, fold in half, tear the sheet into two.  Put a sheet over another, then fold in half, then tear in two.  There you have 4 strips of Nori seaweed.

・Set a small bowl of vinegary water and salt beside you

Vinegary water prevents from sticking rice to your palm.  A small amount of vinegar works an anti bacterial effect.  It doesn’t smell at all for the amount.

Salt will season outside of Onigiri.  Don’t put too much!

※Vinegary water :100ml water +1 teaspoon vinegar (preferably rice vinegar)


1. “Shio Onigiri”.

Scoop the rice to your rice bowl to cool down a bit.   The amount of the rice is totally up to you.  Mine is about 100g.

Moisten your hand with vinegary water, tap your index finger and middle finger on salt to season lightly outside of the rice.  The amount of salt is about a quarter to 1/3 teaspoon.

Spread the salt all over your palm.  Take the rice on your hand, then shape into triangle.

Keep it mind that you don’t want to squeeze too hard.  The rice should be fluffy inside.

Hold the rice with your hand, lightly squeezing the grain together.  Form your hand in V shape, rotate the onigiri on your hand.



Scoop half a bowl of the rice into a bowl, put Umeboshi on the rice, scoop more rice to cover the umeboshi filling. Moisten your palm with vinegary water, take some salt, then shape into triangle.

Wrap it around with nori seaweed.  Put a tiny piece of Umeboshi to see what’s inside.


Repeat the process for each filling.

3. Tuna mayonnaise

4. Okaka



5. Salted salmon

I choose Shiso leaves to wrap it around for the refreshing smell goes well with fish.


6.Kombu kelp Tsukudani

I choose to wrap it up with thinly shaved Kombu kelp.  We use shaved Kombu for onigiri or Udon noodle soup for it’s umami.

If you can’t find it, use nori seaweed.


7.Grilled onigiri

a bowl of cooked rice

About a teaspoon ”Okaka” : a teaspoon of bonito flakes and soy sauce to moisten.

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon mirin

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Mix the ”Okaka” to a bowl of rice to lightly season.

In this case, you have to squeeze the onigiri to stick together.

Heat your tamagoyaki pan on medium-high.  Grease the surface with sesame oil.  Pan fry until brown on each side, with sesame oil.   The reason why I use tamagoyaki pan is, I can cook each side with the egde.  Of course you can use normal pan.

When the each side browned and well cooked, brush soy sauce and mirin mixture.  Brush both side until smells good.  Be careful not to burn.


8. Ume-tamago.

Mix all the ingredients.  Take out a pieces of plastic, then hold into onigiri.  It’s likely to fall apart so squeeze as much as you need, but not too much!


There you have 8 different kind of onigiri.  All of it is very popular in Japan.  Onigiri can be your breakfast or lunch or even good for your healthy snack.  Give it a try and let me know how you like it!


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