Today I’m going to share Yaki Onigiri (焼きおにぎり) recipe. Yaki means “grilled” in Japanese (you probably heard enough from my blog – Teriyaki, Yakisoba, Yakiniku, Yakitori, etc), and onigiri means “rice ball.”
Onigiri (recipe here) is made of white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes. Onigiri is filled with pickled plum called umeboshi, salted salmon, katsuobushi (or okaka), kombu, or tarako in it and is often wrapped in nori (seaweed). But today’s onigiri is grilled, typically on a frying pan or over a barbecue grill. Rather than grilling over charcoal, I used a cast iron pan to create similar crispiness to how it would taste if cooked over BBQ grill.
Although most yaki onigiri is commonly glazed with soy sauce or miso, I actually love using leftover homemade Unagi Sauce for yaki onigiri. The unagi sauce is a sweet caramelized soy sauce and the savory aroma of the sauce blends perfectly with white rice! It’s a wonderful snack for children and adults.
If you live near a Japanese supermarket, you can probably find conveniently packaged pre-made yaki onigiri in the freezer section. But, really, it’s so easy to make from scratch I hope you will give it a try! Especially it’s barbecue season now and this can be an unique addition to your Asian-style barbecue menus. Enjoy!
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- Cooked Japanese rice (Used 2 rice cooker cups (360ml) of uncooked premium short grain rice)*
- Soy sauce (I use homemade Unagi Sauce.)
- Wet towel to wipe your hands
- Let the cooked rice cool a little bit until you can hold rice without burning your hands. Do not let the rice completely cool down.
- Make Onigiri into triangle shapes. First wet both of your hands with water so rice won't stick.
- Then put some salt in your hands and rub to spread all around.
- Scoop about a half cup of rice onto your palm.
- Cover the rice with the other hand and gently form the rice into a triangle.
- Make sure covering hand (my right hand) should be forming a triangle shape. When forming the onigiri shape, your hands should be just firm enough so the onigiri doesn't fall apart. You don't want to squeeze the rice too tight.
- I use three fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger) to cover the area to make a nice triangle shape. Then rotate onigiri to make a perfect triangle.
- While you squeeze onigiri firmly with both hands, one of your hand (my left hand) has to press onigiri to keep a nice form. Left photo is before squeezing and right photo is after.
- Gently squeeze the center of triangle on both sides so there is a slight indentation (for grilling onigiri). Now onigiri is ready! You can tell I’m not a good onigiri maker – no matter how many years I have been practicing.
- Lightly oil a cast iron skillet and put it on medium heat.
- Grill onigiri until all sides are crispy and lightly browned. Don't turn it around. Just work on one side at a time and avoid turning over frequently.
- Lower heat to medium low and brush all sides with soy sauce (unagi sauce). Rotate to make sure all sides become crispy. Be careful not to burn onigiri after you brush it with the sauce.
*1 rice cooker measuring cup (180ml) of uncooked rice will make 2 to 3 onigiri.
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.