A favorite at Izakaya restaurants, Yaki Onigiri are Japanese grilled rice balls covered in savory soy sauce. With a crispy crust on the outside and soft sticky rice on the inside, these rice balls are simply irresistible and easy to make at home!
Gather all the ingredients. Cook the rice with a rice cooker, a pot over the stove, an instant pot, or a donabe. 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.
To Make Rice Balls
First, wet both of your hands with water so the 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 the 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 hands has to press onigiri to keep a nice form.
Gently squeeze the center of the 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.
To Grill Rice Ball
Lightly oil a cast-iron skillet and put it on medium heat.
Grill onigiri until all sides are crispy and lightly browned. Rice will release itself when it forms a nice crust. Don’t flip it quickly. Just work on one side at a time and avoid turning over frequently, which may end up breaking into pieces.
Once all nicely toasted and lightly brown, lower heat to medium-low heat. Brush all sides with soy sauce (or unagi sauce). Rotate to make sure all sides become crispy. Be careful not to burn onigiri after you brush it with the sauce.
Rice gets hard when you refrigerate. You can individually wrap the Yaki Onigiri in plastic wrap and cover them with a thick kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The towel will prevent the rice from getting too cold and keep the food stay cool but not cold. When you're ready to eat, bring it back to room temperature and reheat in a microwave or frying pan.