Onigiri Umezuke (Pickled Plum Riceball)

There’s a certain memory from my childhood that I recall whenever I see or read about Onigiri. I must have been around 9 or so when my step-grandparents were visiting from Japan. Being that we were in Southern California at the time, we had decided to head up to Mt Big Bear to ride snow tires down the slopes. It was decided prior that we would all pack our lunches for the trip, so my grandparents insisted on making Onigiri. I don’t recall ever having had onigiri before that point, but they obliged when I proclaimed that I wanted to learn how to make them. They were simple enough, but with childlike delight, I was still quite proud when I succeeded in making my first triangular (ish) Onigiri.

To keep it simple, Onigiri is basically more or less a personalized rice ball. It can be stuffed or not, and when it is, it usually has something salty or sour inside (which acts as a sort of preservative). Ultimately though, you can fill it with anything you like! Wether it be fish, chicken, pickled veggies.. Anything at all! You can also garnish with furikake or sesame seeds.

Let’s get to it!

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Ingredients: (Makes about 4 rice balls)

~ 2½ cups cooked Japanese short-grained sticky rice
~ pinch of salt (for each rice ball)
~ 1 pickled plum (for each rice ball), halved with the pit removed, (or filling of your choice)

IMG_5042   Along with your prepared rice, set aside a small bowl of water and some salt.

Start by dipping your hands into the water. You want them to be moist, but not dripping wet. (This will aid in keeping he rice from sticking to your hands when attempting to shape them.) Next, lightly sprinkle your hands with the salt. (This will evenly flavor the rice)IMG_5044




Grab a handful of the rice and form it with your hands. You will do this by pressing it softly with your palms into the shape of a triangle. As per the filling, you can put them in before or after the forming. I did it before (see above), but if you choose to fill it after, you can totally cover the entry point with Nori. Which just so happens to be the next step!

Now, the way you wrap your Onigiri is completely up to you. I cut my Nori into little strips and had them meet evenly on either side. Some people choose to put their Nori vertically, or even cover the entire riceball with it! Whatever way you choose to make your Onigiri, have fun with it! I know I did.


Let us know how yours came out!

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