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Moist, fluffy and tasty Onigiri: Japanese soul food

Autumn is the time for new rice crop become available in the market, so people in Japan look forward to this season. These new grains of rice are called Shinmai (新米:しんまい). Today's blog includes the recipe and ideas for wide variety of the most simplest Japanese dish called Onigiri (rice ball). Please share with us your new invention of the flavour with us as well!

Fascination for Rice Shinmai has higher water content, and when it is cooked each grain is shinier and has more fragrant. The brand names such as Koshihikari, Hitomebore, Akitakomachi and Sasanishiki are popular ones. They differ in texture, sweetness, moistness, stickiness, fragrant etc. These rice are available at the Japanese grocery stores in Brisbane. You can alternatively use sushi rice or medium grain rice. Japanese rice is little bit sticker, so it is easy to form into the shape.

Onigiri/ Omusubi/ Nigirimeshi Rice balls come in different shapes with variety of fillings. You can basically place any filling of your choice that does not contain too much water. It is common item for casual lunch. People take this to picnic, school excursion, kids birthday party, BBQ and sometimes for afternoon snack. It is the kind of food you can quickly make and grab with what is available to you.

Is Onigiri a Type of Sushi?

When I ask non-Japanese people if they have eaten Onigiri which is a rice ball, they often ask me if it is a type of sushi. Sushi means vineagared rice. Onigiri rice does not contain vinegar. It uses sprinkle of salt to preserve freshness.

5 Easy Steps to Make Onigiri

1. Prepare Freshly Cooked Rice * Make sure to use Japanese rice or sushi rice, and if not medium grain rice. Grains need to be moist and have enough stickiness to keep the shape

2. Wet and Salt Your Hands *Wash your hands for 1 minutes under running water without any soap. Keep the hands slightly wet, but remove the most of water by hand and sprinkle some salt. This helps to season the rice ball and at the same time preserve it for a few hours. 3. Place Rice on Your Palm * Gently place a scoop of rice on one of your palm. This is usually done in hand very quickly, because freshly cooked rice can be hot, and you also do not need much pressure to form a shape. If it is the first time for you, it might be good idea to cool down the rice for several seconds in ceramic bowl before placing on your palm. In modern days some people prefer to use plastic wrap on palm.

4. Place your choice of filling in the centre

5. Cover up the filing with little bit of rice and form the shape in palms * You can wrap onigiri with nori seaweed. Slightly toast nori under low heat for a few seconds will bring the aroma of ocean and add crispyness.

Examples of filling Traditional

- salted and cooked salmon flakes - salted sour plum - seasoned bonito flakes (with soy sauce, mirin and sugar) - simmered kombu seaweed

- salmon raw seasoned with salt or soy sauce and ginger powder - salted cod roe

Modern - Tuna mayonnaise - yakiniku - templa prawn - sausage - Karaage chicken - Kimuchi and mayonnaise - seasoned minced meat

Seasoned Rice - mixed with simmered mushroom and chicken - mixed with picked vegetable - mixed with green pees - mixed with corn and cubed cheese

Plain with no filling You can also make smaller onigiri with no filling and season around it. - salt - furikake (seasoning powder for onigiri) - salt and nori seaweed - miso and spring onion grilled

Be creative! Can you please let us know your invention?

***** Come to have Japanese conversation with like minded people! Let your friends know as well. Absolute Beginner Japanese Course Starting this month!

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