I showed how to cook white rice in the previous post, and now I have rice in front of me, so I could make rice balls for my husband’s lunch!

A rice ball is called ONIGIRI in Japanese and it is very typical lunch or picnic foods like sandwiches in here.

I enjoy preparing any lunch for my husband, but I specially like making ONIGIRI because I feel like I put all my heart and spirit to this tiny ball when I am rolling rice in my both hands.

ONIGIRi is very easy and simple to make, but like cooking rice, there are some points to make good ONIGIRI.

Today I will show you how to make them.


You could make just simple ONIGIRI with no stuff in it, but usually people put something in it.

Basically you could put anything you like, but the popular stuffing for ONIGIRI are bonito flakes, tuna, baked salmon, baked cod roe, or even Tempura and Karaage (Japanese style fried chicken) and SPAM!

Today I will put UMEBOSHI (pickled plum) which is also one of the popular stuffing for ONIGIRI.

I think most of the families in Japan have UMEBOSHI in the fridge all the time.



UMEBOSHI is thought to have the effect of killing bacteria, so during the humid summer in Japan it often shows up in lunch box.

When we make ONIGIRI, we used to use bare hands, but these days we use plastic wrap for not spreading bacteria from hands.


I don’t like using plastic wrap because I can’t feel I am making it. So,,,,,


I use rice vinegar instead of just tap water.

YES, we need to wet our hands before making ONIGIRI.

For that water, we could put just a few drops of vinegar.

That wouldn’t change the flavor of ONIGIRI.


Also we need to set salt in front.

There are special salt only for ONIGIRI in Japan, but you could any kinds of salt.


Now you have cooked rice, some stuffs for ONIGIRI, vinegar water and salt.


I mix UMEBOSHI and BONITO flakes together.


When UMEBOSHI is too sour, I put a little bit MIRIN, honey or sugar, but this huge UMEBOSHI is not that sour, so I only add bonito flakes.


Just a little bit of salt, ,,,


put that salt on the wet hand,,,,


YES, just a little bit.

Then rub your palms together to spread the salt evenly.


Put the half of prepared rice on the palm, then make a small indentation in the middle of rice.

(Rice has to be a little warm.  Once rice gets cold, it is not easy to manipulate)


Put UMEBOSHI mixture or other stuff in the middle of the rice, and


cover with  remained rice, then,,,


Now we need RHYTHM!

I am a right-handed person, so a base hand would be a left hand.

I use my right hand for shaping ONIGIRI to be triangle.


Once you make triangle shape with both hands, then you have to roll ONIGIRI to make another top angle to be sharpen. Don’t grab rice hard!  Otherwise rice gets sticky.

We have to remain air between the grains of rice.


Roll ONIGIRI in hands like dancing!


I usually don’t look to my hands.

I look straight and just thinking about my husband (who is beside me this time for photograph)


Quickly roll ONIGIRI.  Once it gets a triangle, it is done!


TA DA – !


Now if you have NORI (seaweed), it is better.

Nori is familiar for you these days thanks to Sushi culture here, but some of you may have not used it before.

You could find Nori in the Asian section of any grocery stores today.

This black seaweed sheet has a front and a back.

The smooth surface side is a front and the rough surface is a back.

When we wrap something with Nori, we have to use the rough side to come inside and always the smooth side is outside to see.


So, on the rough side, I put ONIGIRI in the middle of Nori.


Then just fold it.


Nori’s flavor enhances when it attaches with ONIGIRI.

Ohhh,,, Now I want to eat this , not giving this to my husband.


After it gets cold, we could wrap with plastic or aluminium foil.


There sells various wrapping bags in Japan.


We could make those kinds of Onigiri like Seven Eleven’s at home!


When I go back to Japan and stay at my parent’s home, the last request to my mom during the stay is always to make ONIGIRI for me to have them in a train to the airport.

Also one or two more extra Onigiri for me to enjoy in the plane and for my husband to be able to enjoy in the US!

Making Onigiri is very simple step as you see, but every Onigiri tastes different depending on a person who makes.

The pressure the person gives to rice, the quantity of salt,,,,

My husband loves my Onigiri, but for me the best Onigiri is my mom’s.

I could never reach to my mom……

4 thoughts on “ONIGIRI

  1. Sachiko,
    This blog is wonderful!
    I, too, love cooking! I am excited to learn to cook Japanese foods. When I was stationed in Japan I did much eating of the foods, but never learned how to cook the ones I enjoyed.
    You’ve done a great job so far!
    I look forward to seeing more! 😊


  2. Pingback: THE SLIMY GOODNESS! ( YAMAIMO) | Japanese Kitchen in the USA

  3. Pingback: The Easiest Eggplant Dish Ever! | Japanese Kitchen in the USA

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