Sushi and Onigiri (Mostly Onigiri)

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So I’m not a big sushi fan.

There’s nothing wrong with sushi and millions of people like it, but it doesn’t do it for me for reasons that have nothing to do with Japanese cuisine (a lot of which I do like).

I don’t really like fish. Sorry. I know that’s a sweeping, general statement, but it’s more or less true. I like it better than squash, if that helps, but given two choices of protein for a meal, I want to choose the other one.

And sushi uses raw fish.

I’m good, thanks.

You can keep the seaweed, too. Tastes like fish.

But take that sushi rice and squish it into a ball with some tasty surprise in the middle and you have one of my favourite foods: onigiri.

Pretty awesome onigiri. Mine don’t look this good.

We discovered onigiri at Anime North last year. It was being billed as ‘Japanese Street Food’ on the sign of the restaurant in the con hotel and they were selling them 2 for $5 without having to go in and sit down. A little expensive, I’ve since discovered, but we were hungry and it was convenient.

We were also hooked. The girls liked the salmon ones best, but I found them better with chicken or beef inside.

The filling is really just for flavour. Most of what you’re getting is rice, but that’s good as long as you’re not eating a dozen of them at a sitting. Although I may have had as many as four that first time.

Yes, I was completely addicted.

ANd, knowing we’d never find them where we live, I decided to figure out how to make them myself. Turns out it’s not that hard.

  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Cool the rice a little.
  3. Squish the rice into the desired shape.
  4. Stick some stuff in the middle and squish some rice over top.
  5. Consume

Yes, it’s that easy.

Step 3 can be messy, if you let it. My oldest daughter (the Japanese food and culture addict) prefers the handmade balls. A little messy, but made with love. I like to keep my hands mostly rice free, and use a measuring cup, some plastic wrap, and a glass to squish them with.

Mine also don’t look this good. But they’re close.

Neater, and pre-wrapped for my lunch.

But they really are easy.

Oh, the filling might be a little work, but that’s up to you. Most of the time we do a miso paste, green onion, rice wine thing that’s absolutely delicious. The girls are quite fond of salmon inside, and we’ve done beef once or twice as well.

{picture of my onigiri}

They do tend to dry out very quickly, though. My experience is they degrade quickly into dryness after 24 hours and even near the end of that time they start to need a drink to go with. But, wrapped, if you make them in the evening, they should be fine for lunch the next day. Better still to make them in the morning if you want them for lunch. Waiting for the rice to cook is the longest part of the process.

Oldest daughter's hand made onigiri.
Oldest daughter’s hand made onigiri.
DSCN4636
My pre-wrapped onigiri. Not bad!

I think we make them about once a week lately. They’ve become a sort of comfort food and they’re popular with everyone in the family except for the teenage carnivore. Insufficient protein.

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Lance
Lance Schonberg is an eclectic genre fiction author with more than two dozen stories published or on the way. 2019 is the year he dives into independent publishing, starting with "Thorvald's Wyrd", "Skip To My Luu", and "Turn the World Around". And he needs a more exciting short bio.

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