If you’re not familiar with the traditional Japanese dish onigiri, you’re missing out on one of the handiest portable foods there is. Onigiri date back at least to the 11th century, if not older, and were a food used by many Japanese, especially in the military, since they stored and traveled well. Onigiri are traditionally rice balls filled with some salty food to act as a preservative, such as pickled plum or bonito, but since modern technology has given us refrigerators and such, the need to restrict fillings to preserved items is somewhat less mandatory.

Onigiri - The First

This recipe is, as far as I know, original. That’s not to say that putting bacon in things is an original idea, but this application isn’t something I found at a restaurant and tried to imitate. It’s fairly straightforward to make and is wicked tasty.

Filling:

  • 2 strips of finely chopped, crispy thick-cut bacon & the rendered fat
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of panko Japanese bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon or to taste Sriracha chili sauce (adjust depending on how spicy you like spicy)

Onigiri:

  • 1 full pot of cooked, cooled short grain white rice, ideally sushi rice
  • 1 package of nori seaweed sheets

Instructions:

  • Cut the nori in half diagonally with a pair of scissors.
  • Take all the filling stuff, put it in a bowl, and stir very well.
  • Form rice “patties” with your hands that are about a half inch thick and about 2 1/2 inches across.
  • Take a small spoonful of the filling, put it on one patty, put a second on top, and mould into a ball or triangle shape, depending on how traditional you like your onigiri
  • Fold the triangular piece of nori around the rice ball when you’re ready to eat. (don’t put it on in advance or it gets soggy and nasty)
  • Enjoy!

The filling is something that should be a little sparse but spread across the tongue as you chew; that’s why I make this with two rice patties instead of the traditional method of putting an indentation in the rice ball and filling it. Using two flat patties lets the filling spread out a little more and be more present in every bite.


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