Onigiri (How To Make Rice Ball) おにぎり

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Onigiri | Rice Balls Recipe | JustOneCookbook.com

Onigiri, also known as rice ball, is a Japanese comfort food made from rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and usually wrapped in nori (seaweed).  If a person is new to Japanese cuisine, sometimes onigiri is misunderstood as a type of sushi but it is not.  One of the key difference between onigiri and sushi is that onigiris are made with plain steamed rice, while sushi are made of steamed rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar (see details in How To Make Rice and How To Make Sushi Rice).

Onigiri | Rice Balls | JustOneCookbook.com

Onigiri are very popular in Japan and all different appetizing flavors of onigiri can be found in Japanese convenience stores.  At the time onigiri were first invented, refrigerators didn’t exist yet.  So the Japanese came up with a method to keep the rice fresh longer by filling it with salty or sour ingredient as natural preservatives.  The most common fillings include:

  • umeboshi (Japanese salty pickled plum)
  • shiojake | shiozake (salted salmon)
  • katsuobushi or okaka (bonito flakes moisten with soy sauce)
  • shio kombu (salty kombu seaweed)
  • tarako (salty cod roe).

Nowadays onigiri fillings are more creative with Shrimp Tempura, Chicken Karaage,  tuna with mayonnaise, and many other non traditional flavors.  Some onigiri also use mixed rice like Takikomi Gohan.

Japanese Rice | JustOneCookbook.com

People prefer various onigiri fillings based on their favorites; however, the most important ingredient in onigiri is Japanese rice.  There is a long history of rice being cultivated in Japan for over 2000 years.  It is by far the most fundamental food in Japanese cuisine that the word for it “gohan” also means the “meal” itself.  My husband who is Chinese was surprised to learn that for the Japanese, the rice is the main part of the home cooked meal with meat or fish dish to compliment it.  In the Chinese culture, it’s quite the opposite with rice playing the complimentary role to the other dishes.

Japanese rice is a thin and fat short-grain rice, and also known as japonica, uruchimai, or sushi rice (not vinegared sushi rice used for sushi).  When cooked properly, the rice grains cling together without being mushy.

 Japanese Rice | JustOneCookbook.com

A few months ago, one of my readers had emailed me and we started to exchange emails.  She happened to work for Far West Rice and she generously offered to send me their Japanese rice as a gift because she wanted me to taste their rice.

I received several rice products and one of them was Komachi, their finest California Supreme Short Grain Rice.  Far West Rice provides their customers the freshest rice by milling only when they receive an order.  She had milled and packed the rice for me just before shipping.

 Japanese Rice | JustOneCookbook.com

When I cooked Komachi and saw their rice in a rice bowl for the first time, I was shocked how beautiful their rice is.  It has the same shine that we see from rice grown in Japan.  I’ve been eating California grown Japanese rice for the past 15+ years but I rarely see rice that has this beautiful luster.  It also has very nice mild fragrance and the sticky texture on the tongue is just right.  When you chew it, you can taste the just the right sense of sweetness in the rice and the whole experience brought me right back to Japan.  The Japanese often describe quality rice as “you wouldn’t need other food if you had good rice” and this rice was it!

This humble food, rice, is the essence of the Japanese cuisine.  Preparing with high quality ingredients and bringing real flavor and integrity of the ingredient to the food, and that’s the heart of Japanese cooking.  Therefore, I highly recommend you to use Japanese premium/supreme short grain rice for cooking Japanese food.

 Japanese Rice | JustOneCookbook.com

We are now planning a family trip to visit their mill in Nelson, California, about three hours north of San Francisco (and we visited!  Here’s the post about Rice Milling Tour.).  I’m looking forward to the tour of their facility and to learn more about their rice.  I’ll come back to report about my experience there in the future.  If you are interested in their rice, please contact here.

Lastly, I want to share some useful (?) manners about eating rice in Japan.

  • You must hold your rice bowl with your hand while eating from it.
  • It is considered as a polite manner to finish every single grain of rice in a bowl as a way of appreciating rice farmers.
  • Never leave your chopsticks standing up vertically in your rice – it’s used for funerals (resembles burning incense).

Now let’s make onigiri with delicious rice!

Onigiri | Rice Balls | JustOneCookbook.com

Wrap a strip of fresh nori (seaweed) around it…and enjoy!

Onigiri | Rice Balls | JustOneCookbook.com

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Onigiri (Rice Balls)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 onigiri
  • Cooked Japanese rice [We do not use vinegared sushi rice!] (2 rice cooker measuring cups (360ml) of uncooked rice)
  • Water
  • Salt
  • A few sheets of nori (seaweed)
Fillings (Anything you like to put)
  • Salted salmon
  • Umeboshi (Japanese salty pickled plum)
  • Katsuobushi (bonito flakes)
  • Soy sauce
Things you need
  • Wet towel to wipe your hands
  1. While rice is being cooked (see How To Make Rice), prepare the fillings. Bake salted salmon at 400F degree in a toaster oven for 25 minutes and break the cooked salmon into flakes.
  2. Pit umeboshi and cut it in half (optional).
  3. Moisten katsuobushi with soy sauce.
  4. Let the cooked rice cool a little bit until you can hold rice without burning your hands. However, do not let the rice completely cool down.
  5. First wet both of your hands with water in order to keep the rice from sticking to your hands.
  6. Then put some salt in your hands and rub to spread all around.
  7. Scoop out a handful of warm rice (about ½ cup) into one hand.
  8. Using the other hand, make an indentation in the rice.
  9. Place one kind of filling (about 1 tsp.) inside.
  10. Press the filling into the rice.
  11. Then use your hands to mold and press the rice around the filling to gently form the rice into a triangle.
  12. Form the bottom with your left hand and the top corner with your right hand. I use three fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger) to cover the area to make a nice triangle shape. Pressing the triangle into the palm of your left hand, squeeze each corner of the triangle with your right hand. Your hands should be just firm enough so the onigiri doesn't fall apart. You don't want to squeeze the rice too tight.
  13. Also, while you squeeze onigiri firmly with both hands, your left hand has to press onigiri in order to keep a nice form. The left photo shows before squeezing and right photo shows after.
  14. Place a little bit of each filling on top of onigiri so we know which kind it is.
1 rice cooker measuring cup (180ml) of uncooked rice will make 2 to 3 onigiri.

You can use a plastic onigiri mold for more uniform shape.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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  1. Alyssa

    I love that you added the proper manners for eating rice. And these look wonderful. The salted salmon filling sounds especially delicious!

  2. I love onigiri! When I went to Taiwan, there were so many different flavors of fillings at the local “7-11″ type stores. My favorites were the spam and the rousong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rousong)! I think the packaging is so ingenious since the plastic keeps the seaweed away from the rice until you are ready to eat so it doesn’t get soggy.

    Onigiri also reminds me of the anime/manga Aishiteru ze Baby. ^_^

    So, how long did it take for you to form the grains of rice for the character “rice”? hehe

    • Yeah I agree on packaging! It’s very creative and I definitely like my nori to be crispy and not soggy. :) I never tried spam and rousong – probably it’s only sold in Taiwan. I should check it out next time I’m in Taiwan!

      For the “rice” character, haha it was very quick like 15 seconds? 😉

  3. Your manners of eating rice is the same as the chinese:) love the step by step way of assembling this onigiri; although I am not very partial to rice I find this very tempting!

  4. This is such a wonderful post! I loved reading the manners section since I enjoy reading about other cultures. And as always, love the step by step photos! I may try this one day! 😀

  5. Nami, what an outstanding post! I cannot get enough of your photos, your explanations and your recipe! I am sure that you will enjoy your trip to the rice mill, great idea. Thanks for this wonderful post!

  6. Dear Nami,

    A Japanese friend made onigiri for me once and it looked exactly like how you made it in a thick triangle. It was delicious with all the different ingredients and like you, she said the quality of the rice is the most important, no compromise at all! Excellent formation of the Chinese / Japanese character for rice too :)

  7. That rice is just beautiful! I love onigiri, I like them round best (don’t know why) but sometimes I make them like triangles too, never put the garnish on top though, they look good, I should try :-).


  8. Looks simply beautiful rice balls,I love this rice balls very much,sometime I just mix them with rice seasoning/ebi fumi furikake,,it’s simple and Yummy :)

  9. I have only had onigiri a few times, and one of the times was with shiojake. I have to say it was not my favorite. But your recipe makes me want to try it again. Now I will have to try your recipe, hopefully it will spark a whole new love for me. Great post!

  10. What a wonderful post, Nami, I learned so much from you today. I have eaten and enjoyed onigiri and I did know about what to do with the chopsticks but I didn’t know about the shine on the rice and that rice was the main dish.

  11. is it safe to say that jasmine or glutinous rice would not do? cus i have those rice handy in the pantry and i might despair if i have to get another kind of rice (tho i would despair to not make this…i’m in all around despair mood right now…)

    as for the filling, is it salmon + umeboshi + bonito flakes, or is it one rice ball has salmon, another has umeboshi etc?

    • I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. Each onigiri gets one kind of filling. :) To show which kind of onigiri, I put a little bit of fillings on top of onigiri so we can tell without eating onigiri. :)

    • Thank you for bringing this to my attention Vicki! I think the term “sushi rice” is VERY confusing. For Japanese “sushi rice” only means vinegared rice which we ONLY use for making sushi. Sometimes Japanese short grain rice is also called “sushi rice” on the package and it might give an assumption that we all need to make vinegared sushi rice for Japanese food, but it’s not. I need to emphasize here that we DO NOT use vinegared rice for onigiri or any of Japanese food and we eat plain steamed rice. Only time we use vinegared rice is when we make sushi (with raw fish – to keep fish fresh).

  12. Nami… I know I have said this before… but your photos and styling is superb!! That picture of you holding the rice in your hands… really gorgeous! I think this is such a fun dish and my daughter loves nori… so she would love the flavor of it with the rice. :)

  13. Nami, thank you for such an exhaustive introduction to rice! Japanese rice eating (and eating in general) differ from the European ones, so thank you for reminding these too. (Although pointing at someone with a chopstick is apparently as rude as pointing with a fork 😉 ).
    Your onigiri are like works of art. I prepare onigiri quite often but always with plastic moulds because I have never had the patience to learn with hands and they ended up so clumsy and ugly… I am impressed by your tutorial! Have you spent one month preparing this post? 😉
    I remember the first time I have switched from cheap American rice (Japanese-style but made in the US) to a more expensive higher quality rice made in Italy (it’s Koshihikari variety) by a Japanese company. I felt just like you: it had a sweetish beautiful aroma, grains’ shape is beautiful and they shine more. I am addicted now.
    By the way, what is salted salmon? Is it smoked salmon? I don’t think I have ever seen anything apart from smoked or fresh salmon here.

    • Thank you Sissi! Salted salmon is basically salmon which is salted prior to cooking. When we say “salmon” in Japan, most of the time it’s considered as “salted salmon”. You sprinkle salt and leave it for 2-3 days. I should do a recipe for it one day. We call it shiojake or shiozake, compared to namajake (regular kind). If you eat salmon dish in Japanese restaurant, it’s most likely shiojake (unless it’s Teriyaki salmon). :)

  14. I can see why this is such a comfort food. It looks so good. I would love to curl up with some Onigiri at the end of the day. :) I’m looking forward to your account of the rice factory tour. That’s going to be such a treat for you all! How cool to actually see where things are made and processed. I love your photos Nami – they are always so stunning, and I very much appreciate your trips about rice etiquette. I’m going to remember those. :)

  15. I left a comment earlier and got the dreaded couldn’t make a database connection and lost it. sorry if you thought I forgot you :)

    I loved this post. I’ve enjoyed onigiri and I did know about the chopstick rule but what I learned today was about rice. The shine and that it’s the main dish. I should have assumed but I didn’t.

  16. Thanks for the specific rice-squeezing tips! I’ve made onigiri about ten times now, but I’m still not completely satisfied with the shape (I think I use too much rice) and with how well it holds together (the corners sometimes crumble a bit). Your onigiri looks perfect!

      • I learned something ELSE today. Thank you. :) Was the character made up of any other characters or is does it just symbolize ‘rice’?

        I bought a can of Spam recently as I’d like to make Spam Musubi or Spam onigiri … though I’m still not happy with the way that I’m shaping the musubi without a form.

  17. Oh Nami, this is so delicious! I’ve had these rice balls before – but in a restaurant. I’m sure when they’re homemade like yours, it is even more amazing. Thanks for the tips on how to eat rice in Japan. Very helpful :-) Enjoy your trip to the rice mill, will look forward to your stories!

  18. Kitty

    Please let us know all about the trip to the mill. I’m sure it will be a fascinating visit. I see they’ll be having an online store soon.

  19. Thanks for the lesson on rice etiquette! Badly needed in my case. And thanks for the instruction in how important rice is to Japanese cuisine. I knew it was important, but didn’t realize how central it was to the meal. Super recipe, great instructions – you make it all look so easy. Thanks.

  20. It is always so educative to read your posts Nami. I learn so much about Japanese kitchen. These onigiri look truly delicious! I also loved the instructions on how to eat rice in Japan. If I ever go there I will now some things.

  21. Candice

    I always learn something new when I read your posts. I love onigiri. Can I just invite myself over for some homemad onigiri? haha =)

    The Chinese has similar customs on eating rice.

  22. donna mikasa

    What a great post, Nami! In Tokyo, our hotel was near a Family Mart convenience store, and we would grab the different onigiri they had for a quick snack. I think premium rice makes all the difference!

  23. CC

    I love onigiri, though my ones don’t look nearly as beautiful as your’s…so I’m going to use the cheat’s way and use a mold =P haha. Love the photos of the rice! I always want to learn how to differentiate between quality Japanese rice – I once bought a pack that was so mushy, even when I didn’t add too much water ><!

  24. Never imagine that the position of the chopsticks means something, good to know…!!!
    In Peru we used to eat everything with rice, even we are eating potatoes as a side, we have to add rice, its’ amazing. I always think that could be because we had Chinese people migrated to our country years ago, but if they learned from Japanese that really means we learned from you.

  25. It’s helpful to know the cultural differences. I knew it wasn’t polite to stand your chopsticks vertically but I didn’t know why. I also didn’t know it was polite to eat every grain of rice in your bowl because in our culture it’s actually polite to leave a little something because if you eat it all the host thinks she hasn’t fed you enough. Cultural differences are so interesting xx

  26. Eha

    Oh, Nami, you take me back ‘worlds’! I look back in absolute horror at the first few times I was taken to fantastically beautiful ‘geisha evenings’ in Tokyo. Rice always arrived last, and it seemed polite to accept and eat, even if one was totally satiated! Little did I know this was meant as a ‘fill-up’ if the hosts had not provided enough!!!! Which, naturally, was never the case!!!! I truly do not know whether I was ever offered onigiri – sheesh [don’t read!] I kept on being offered a hostess for the night, and truly did not know how not to offend!! And, whenever our wonderful Japanese businesss hosts would bow at a station or at a car, I felt I had to bow deeper, which meant they felt they had to, etc et al . . . Nami. one lived and learnt and felt awfully stupid and impolite at times . . . now back to onigiri . . .

  27. Nami, such a fascinating post. Now when I see the packs now appearing at our supermarket in Paris for “Sushi Rice”, I’ll know a bit more. Thanks for clearing up the differences (incl Chinese/Japanese) and for showing us onigiri.

  28. Nami, these rice balls look gorgeous! I really enjoyed your step-by-step tutorial. I was curious about the filling – the amount you use and how you go about incorporating it – and learnt a lot as I always do from you! Your photos are just so stunning and your presentation really brings you into the experience and definitely makes me want to partake :). (I think I would still dip these lovelies in vinegar! :)).

  29. Siimple rice and look how beautiful the creation you came up with it, Nami. You are amazing, my friend and that is why I always look up to you creativity. Thank you for the reminder about the good Japanese table and eating manners which I really believe in especially the last one. :) Have a great weekend to you and your family because weekend is almost here.

    ~ ray ~

  30. I’ve never tried onigiri before, but it does looks very appetizing! I like how you mentioned the customs related to rice..very informative. I made the mistake once of keeping the chopsticks vertical…never again!

  31. Very informative post on a wonderful rice. Very cool you will visit the mill. I love reading about the old ways or preserving food before the invention of the fridge. I read a book on the history of salt which discussed preservation at length and included a lot of Japanese and Asian history.

  32. Nami, this is fate! Guess what? I just made onigiri and may post it on my blog in the near future!!! How odd is that? That we made the same dish? But of course, you are the expert in Japanese food :) I made mine with spicy tuna (haha, western style, I know, I know!). My kids love onigiri because they are perfect “litterless” lunch that we can pack for school.

    BTW, thanks for the great comment you left on my cured hamachi post! You reinforced my belief in eating raw fish as a safe practice. I haven’t had any concerns about eating sushi or sashimi when I was pregnant, so hopefully, that will drive the point to those who have doubts!

  33. なみさん



  34. Your rice balls are just beautiful!! You have such a talent with making both delicious and gorgeous dishes! And thanks for sharing a source for freshly milled rice…I’d love to try it~

  35. I need to learn more about Japanese cuisine, I know so little about it. It is so intriguing and so interesting. I don’t know half of the ingredients, but I know you and your wonderful blog!!! Next thing you know I will go to Japan. We almost went one year but my husband did not get visa with his russian passport -(((

  36. Nami, This is a very informative post on japanese short grain rice and cooking them into a lovely dish. I loved reading the proper manner of eating Onigiri.

    I think this is a perfect gluten free meal for me to try when I go to a Japanese restaurant which is one block away. I will take my sauce with me.

  37. It’s amazing to know how many different types of rice there are and that no two types of rice are the same. I haven’t cooked with Japanese rice much, but I did by some brown sweet rice recently that was so tasty and a great texture. Thank you for all of this information on Japanese rice and the review of the Komachi. Have fun on your rice plant tour! I hope you plan to take pictures and share with us!

  38. I just had some Onigiri the other day, but didn’t know what they were called! It was a sadness deep inside that I would probably never find out. Good thing I have you here for me Nami!

  39. このおにぎりと一つ前のバーベキューのチキンすごく合うよね?きれいなお米。オレゴンのお店でも買えるのかしら?私は九州出身なので、やはり明太子か、焼きたらこのおにぎりが好きです。ちょっと質問、これからまた週3日のブログスケジュールに戻るんですか?忙しくなりますね。I’m grateful for your comment always.

  40. Wow, what a great post! I am learning so much from you as probably many feel the same.
    Filling sounds so tasty and I am salmon lover so this is just perfect. I can only thank you for sharing your recipe and your knowledge too.

  41. Nami, I have never tride to make Onigiri at home, although I am a big fan of japanese rice balls in restaurants… These look amazing!! I have told you before, but have to say it again: I am so thankful for your step-by-step instructions, for beginners of Japanese cooking (like me :D) your posts are so precious!! Thank you so much for sharing!

  42. It amazes me how creative you can get with rice! Onigiri is going to make it to our dinner table … I’ve never had it, but I know we will enjoy it! Thanks for sharing your amazing dishes, Nami!

  43. Hi Nami,

    What a great post! I love that I always learn something, or many things, from readying your blog. I don’t know much about rice, but what I do know is that the quality of rice is very important. Here I have access to a Japanese store with really good rice, and the difference is very noticeable. Your Onigiri looks perfect!

    I have to tell you that my husband learned from his Japanese friends about rice manners. He taught me to bring the bowl up and not to leave a crumb;)

  44. I have to be honest, Nami, beyond a basic understanding and appreciation of a few basic types of rice, I had never thought that much about there being such a vast difference in quality. But of course it makes sense. I love all the tidbits of info in this post.

  45. I love these little rice balls – thanks for the great review of the rice! I never knew that’s how the Japanese view their rice, while my family thinks having a side of rice is essential, it’s just that, a side dish (although I would often eat it with just a dash of soy sauce or fish sauce).

    • Right! Onigiri is so easy to adapt to your liking. It’s nice that you recreate somehing new with leftover! Thank you for writing your feed back! I really appreciate it! :)

  46. Bob Watts

    Wow! I love this post! I’m more Japanese than I realize! I’m 54, born in NJ on a military base to a military Dad born in NC and an atom bomb orphan Japanese Mom who left when I was in third grade (1964ish). I lived in Japan from 1960 to 1970, and have been in Virginia where it’s hard to get authentic Japanese groceries since 1972. I now have 5 kids who can tell you about triangular onigiri wrapped in seaweed that they love and only their Dad can make. I don’t make enough income as a career Firefighter to put salmon or tarako in them, and umeboshi is too salty for them but their favorite is Katsuo with shoyu anyway. Also I have told my kids about those rice eating rules/manners accurately all their lives! I must have learned all of this early in life because I have shared this info with my kids thinking I was possibly making some of it up! (Like the chopsticks sticking in your rice bowl vertically… I KNEW THAT! Now I can share this post and have back up! Thanks for your “blog” I am so enjoying it and the nastolgic sense it gives me.

    • Bob Watts

      BTW, we also like plain onigiri made with goma-shio sprinkled on my hands to make it! Each of my 5 kids eat 2 to 3 at a time so I have to have a whole pot of leftover rice. Good thing we buy rice by the 25lb bag and make a pot every day. (My wife tries to sneak in pasta or potatoes occasionally, but I have corrupted my children to prefer rice! LOL.

      • Hi Bob! Your comments made me so happy this morning. Thank you for writing, and it was so nice to hear about your story. It’s interesting that you remember all important facts about manners and how you make onigiri as they were naturally part of your culture! And really happy to hear you and your children enjoy eating rice too! Goma shio is goooood! Now thinking about it at lunch time makes my stomach growl. Thank you for your compliments and I’m so happy you enjoy my blog! :)

  47. Bashayer

    Personally, I dont like fish, nor seaweed. So, the only thing that works with me is the japanese salty pickled plum.

    Are these other fillings used for onigiri?

    • Hi Bashayer! You might be surprised that there are MANY creative ingredients that can be inside onigiri. If you want to eat some food with rice, you can pretty much put that inside. I put very basic onigiri ingredients in this post because these are traditional kinds that most people know. However, there are a lot of variations nowadays. So be creative and enjoy! And you don’t need to use nori at all. I don’t always wrap with nori. :)

  48. Estee

    Hi Nami, my love to pack this for my son’s summer camp. i was wanna know, it can eaten cold? i saw you made the bento box. i always pack them with hot meal on the thermos. but this rice still taste fresh in a cool condition?

  49. Pete

    Hi Nami,
    Is there any particular brand you’d recommend for umeboshi? They have a huge variety at my local Asian supermarket and I’m a little lost when it comes to pickled plums.

    Unfortunately my wife doesn’t like oily or strong tasting fish so I don’t think she would be into the bonito or salmon. Is there any other filling you would recommend? Would red bean paste work or is that better with Mochi?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Pete! I now live in the US and I also don’t get to buy good umeboshi anymore. However, I buy big umeboshi with shiso leaves (darker color leaves) in it. If you can find 紀州南高梅 (Kishu Nanko Ume), it’s considered good quality of umeboshi. :)

      Red bean paste is very strange in onigiri. Besides traditional filling, popular onigiri filling includes as karaage, shrimp tempura, kombu, or you can make onigiri with mixed rice (takikomi gohan), etc. Hope that helps! :)

      • Pete

        I’ll keep an eye out for the Kishu Nanko Ume–I had some umeboshi the last time I visited Japan and now nothing I find around here tastes quite right.

        By the way, my wife loved the karaage and also the shrimp tempura fillings. :)

        Thanks so much Nami!

        • You’re welcome! It’s very hard to find good quality products oversea… mostly “average” brand stuff…but I always tell myself it’s better than nothing. 😀

  50. These look awesome, I’ve been wanting to make rice balls for awhile. They seem like a great snack after a late night shift. I was wondering though how far ahead can you make them in advance and should they be refrigerated?

    • Hi JFL! Yes, they are – and great breakfast on the go too. :)

      As long as it’s kept in “cool” place, it can stay at room temp for 1-2 hrs (that’s why we make rice balls with a bit of salt to keep it safe). But if it’s longer than that, keep it in the fridge. When rice is in refrigerator, it gets harden. If you have microwave, you can heat it up a bit before you eat. But Onigiri is meant to eat at warm or room temperature, not hot or cold.

      Hope this helps. :)

  51. Amber Walker

    I love reading about rice and cooking with it. It is the most eaten thing in our house,especially as we are vegans.I also like learning about Japanese tradition. OSS

  52. giota

    nice recipe and very easy. can I ask something. if you can’t find Japanise Rice can you use Jasmine or basmati rice? I can’t find it in my city . Also the nori sheet you can eat with the onigiri, it’s not just for decoration? it’s my first time making.

    • Hi Giota! If you cannot find short grain rice, I guess you have to use something else; however, I have to tell you that other kinds are not sticky and you may have a little hard time to form a ball of rice. And nori is not for decoration (well, it can act like a decoration, in a way) but it’s for texture and flavor. I love the crisp nori around onigiri. :)

  53. Yuriko

    I am not Japanese, but I like the way you cook. I was very curious to see how you cook rice in the Japanese way. I’ll try to do the same now, for Christmas, since I have already bought salmon.
    Arigato gozaimashita!
    Yuriko (my Japanese name)

  54. Karly

    Hi, where can I get the Komachi short grain rice from? Does the Far East company actually sell and ship to personal or commercial only? Thanks!

  55. kazy

    What a wonderful post about the essence and importance of rice in Japan. I need to pass this on to my friends, so they too can appreciate the rice.

  56. Jessica Tucker

    I just made some of these, the plain ones, for my family for lunch. They were horribly misshapen, but they liked them anyway. Next time, I’m going to try making them with fillings.

    • Hi Helen! Thank you so much for your request. I don’t think I’ll call that for “recipe” and probably will not share it as a post. However, it’s very easy to make. You sprinkle furikake (I recommend special furikake for onigiri – it has more salt in it) and mix all together and shape into regular onigiri. If you use regular furikake, you may want to put salt on your hands because it doesn’t have enough salt in the furikake. Hope this helps! :)

  57. Sinead

    Nami, I love onigiri, especially filled with tuna (not traditional, I know). They’re my favourite thing to have for lunch, but I find that the rice goes hard unless I eat them that day, within hours even. As you said they are quite fiddly to make and it’s not really practical for me to make them every morning before work. Can they be frozen and taken out that morning? I saw another post you have about freezing rice portions, but I’m not sure if the same applies to onigiri.
    I just found your website and it’s the best I’ve ever found on Japanese food. I’ll definitely be saving this to my favourites bar.

    • Hi Sinead! If you don’t put in the refrigerator and keep it at room temperature, the rice stays softer for a longer time.

      I looked up on internet to see if we can freeze onigiri. Guess what, you can! I have never done it before so I learned something new today thanks to you. :)

      You should wrap onigiri in plastic wrap, and then put in freezer bag. Onigiri should last about 1 month. You can defrost naturally and eat it or you can heat it up with microwave etc. I see some people prefer to heat up frozen onigiri. I haven’t tried it yet so it’s hard for me to say which works better.

      If you use microwave to heat up, do not wrap nori when you freeze onigiri. It doesn’t work well when you have to re-heat onigiri. You should wrap with nori after re-heating it.

      Also, mayonnaise won’t taste good when you re-heat it. So unfortunately tuna onigiri won’t work for frozen ones…

      Other suggestions for using frozesn onigiri include Yaki Onigiri or Ochazuke (both recipes on my blog).

      Hope this helps!

    • I hit “submit” too fast… I also wanted to say thank you for reading my blog! I’m so happy to hear you enjoy my website. Thank you for your support! xo :)

  58. Gabrielle

    When shaping onigiri, I like to use a plastic ziplock bag and push my rice ball to the corner (holding it diagonally) to make that perfect triangle shape ^_^

  59. Jocelyn

    Thank you for this recipe, which I will make for my children for their packed lunches this year. But also, thank you for illuminating something about myself that I never knew.

    I lived in Japan when I was very little – aged 4 to 7. All my life, when I have eaten rice I have eaten every grain and said that it seems wasteful for so much effort to have been put into growing, reaping, packaging and transporting it to my kitchen, just for me to leave it in the bowl. Now I know why! Someone in Japan must have told me that when I was small! :)

    • Hi Jocelyn! Yes, you must have learned it while you were in Japan! Rice was already part of your life, just like how we feel about rice. 😀 I’m teaching my children the same thing “to eat every grain”… :) I’m sure there are other “Japanese” things in you that you haven’t noticed. 😉 Thank you so much for your comment!

    • Hi Buddhika! I’m sorry nori is not available there. I hope Japanese ingredients will be easier to find in any place in the world one day. I must introduce more Japanese food to the world. :) I just wanted to mention that you don’t need to wrap with nori. Some onigiri has no nori around it too. :)