Japan has a vast food culture, especially when it comes to using rice in their cuisine. A well-known example would be the おにぎり (onigiri), or "rice ball." They're very easy to make, require little time, and the variations you can enjoy are endless! Depending on the flavors you like, you can change the flavor onigiri you're making. A perfect example of your regular rice ball would be plain white rice in a triangular shape wrapped with a small sheet of 海苔 (nori), or "seaweed" on the bottom:
Onigiri is so popular that you've probably seen it before, either in real life or in manga-anime form.
(To any Studio Ghibli fans out there, I bet you can guess where this is from.)
Onigiri goes by other names besides "rice ball." It is also known as おむすび (omusubi) and 握り飯 (nigirimeshi). The origin of onigiri can be traced back to the Heian period of Japan, though the "wrapped with nori" version was most likely created during the Edo period. From there on, the styles and variation of onigiri have expanded. When convenience stores were constructed in Japan during the 1970s, onigiri made their way to the shelves and were instantly popular. Onigiri is made in compact sizes, which allows its consumers to enjoy it as a snack on the go or as a full meal. A traditional onigiri has some kind of sour or salty ingredient in order to help preserve the white rice naturally. It usually uses 梅干し (umeboshi) which is pickled plum, 鮭 (shake) which is salted salmon flakes, and 昆布 (konbu) which is edible kelp.
So how do you make an onigiri? Well, after you prepare the rice by washing and cooking it beforehand, all you have to do is mold it in your hands. Here's how to make a triangular shaped, standard onigiri:
Pretty simple right? That's how you make a basic onigiri. Of course, if it's too much trouble to make onigiri this way, or you'd like to find a way to add filling and nori to it without the hassle, there's an item that does that for you on the Japanese market:
This is perfect for busy people who'd like to have onigiri but don't have the time to make them. We have this onigiri maker here on J-Subculture, so grab it while it's still in stock!
Nowadays however, the variety of onigiri is countless. Using different colored rice (through food coloring) and many cool gadgets, you can personalize and transform your onigiri! For example, there are circular onigiri which are better fitted to the name "rice ball," and there are onigiri sandwiches you can make, which are far more easier than the traditional triangular one. The best thing about them is that they're delicious even if you change their shapes!
Circular onigiri don't take as many steps as its triangular counterpart, but if you're still looking for an easier way to make them, there are these items called "onigiri shakers" you can use to make circular onigiri. Just put rice into the shaker, close it, and shake! You'll have perfect circular onigiri in no time! We even have them here at J-Subculture, so go ahead and order yours asap!
Some people like to get a little creative with the nori of the onigiri. There are many nori cutters in Japan that you can use to cut nori into different kinds of shapes. Depending on the nori cut-outs, you can manipulate the shape of the rice you're using to make an original onigiri masterpiece! We have many nori cutters here at J-Subculture, such as these adorable nori cutters you can use to make penguin onigiri!:
If you struggle with molding rice and would like neater shapes, there are sets of both rice ball makers and nori cutters you can use to make the ultimate character onigiri, like a panda-shaped onigiri:
Making the perfect onigiri has never been so fun and simple! We at J-Subculture would like to spread Japanese culture across the globe, and you can contribute by making your own onigiri. You can start here with our various onigiri goods. It's all about getting creative with your food, and although we're often told not to play with our food, I think people will let us slide when we wow them with these awesome onigiri:
We have over fifty onigiri goods here at J-Subculture. There are not just onigiri shakers and makers, but there are also unique cases you can carry your onigiri in. Scroll down to see some of the goods avaliable, or look up "rice ball" in our shopping search engine. Enjoy your shopping!
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