Japan is famous for its plethora of dishes that are cooked with rice. Onigiri, or rice balls, is probably the second most famous of them all (second to sushi) it is no surprise then that Onigiri is one of the most popular dishes all over Japan also. It is becoming very famous all around the world now too and for good reason, the taste. You get that taste from multitude of flavours so here today we are going to show you some of the most popular ingredients that you may find when you try rice balls for the first time.
What is Onigiri?
Onigiri in its simplest form is a rice ball. That’s it. The most famous and traditional kind of rice ball is just simply seasoned with salt and rolled into a ball. It is simple but it is indeed delicious. It has said to have come from a varied history with some historical writings dating back as far as the seventeenth century. Often in the west it is misplaced in food categories as a form of sushi when it really isn’t. It is often just plain or salted white rice where as sushi rice is very different.
As we all know, the Japanese are the go to quisene for seafood, and Onigiri or “rice balls” are no exception to that rule. One of the most popular fillings is Salmon. There are a lot of salmon dishes in Japan but perhaps this is one of the most consumed. Salmon is often cut to sashimi grade and then served raw but in the case of other quality fish they can be cooked. This is a type of salmon that is cooked on a high temperature and pleaced in a rice ball wraped in seaweed and sometimes even topped with black sesame seeds. This is a delicious thing for all the lovers of seafood out there. The rice itself in this case is often in the triangular shape and just simply seasoned with salt or in certain cases with Japanese Soy Sauce.
Kelp is a form of seaweed and for those of you who know, seaweed is a massive source of flavour in a lot of Japanese cooking and Onigiri is no exception to this rule. A lot of people think that seaweed tastes like fish in the west and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kelp in particular is a kind of umami flavour that tastes a little like the sea. When it comes to rice balls kelp is used often as a wrap at the bottom of triangular shaped ones or as dried little shreds on seasoned ones. Either way this is an amazing thing that works very very well with simply seasoned rice. Often on rice balls that are wrapped with kelp there could be other ingredients inside and with seasoned balls there could be sesame seeds also.
Cod roe is similar to caviar in that it is young fish eggs. Cod roe is a very popular type of filling or flavour for onigiri. The main way this is served is with a completely wrapped triangular shaped rice ball with the Cod roe hidden inside. Roe in all forms is a richer way of eating seafood so there isn’t always a drastic amount but you do taste it very much and for all lovers of seafood you can not go wrong at all. This, if you don’t include salmon, is one of the most popular filings that are fish based and for a very good reason, it holds it’s own flavour wise. You will rarely find this in snack onigiri because roe won’t work that well unless fresh but when you visit a rice ball restaurant you will be able to get this dish and enjoy its rich lovelyness.
Rest assured vegetarian or vegan friends, you are not left out when it comes to rice ball eating pleasure. Rice balls come in a variety of forms and the Japanese utilise their vegetables to the max so finding a vegetable rice ball should be as easy as finding one made from fish. Of course the most common ingredient for vegetable based onigiri is simply seaweed. Nori or kelp are just two of them. But there are others including thinly cut carrots or mushrooms. And one of the most popular is probably one of Japan’s most famous exports, miso paste. Miso paste is simply soy beans mushed up. You get a lovely umami flavour from the bean paste and it is delicious. There can also often be a mixture of vegetables.
A combination that is famous the whole world over. Tuna mayonnaise. This is a filling of onigiri that will definitely be popular amongst westerners visiting Japan. Tuna mayo is one that ticks all the boxes. You get the lovely fish flavour from the tuna and the savoury tang of the mayo and mix that with some perfectly cooked rice and you have yourself a brilliantly flavoured dish. Japan is really the best place in the world for tuna so I urge you the next time you visit this place to try some tuna mayonnaise rice balls, you will not be let down. You may even find some wrapped in seaweed or topped with sessame seeds or maybe even with some fresh crunchy vegetables thrown in.
When you think of rice balls so far you must be thinking of savoury flavours but there are also ones that implement fruit. The main one of those being plum. The plum they put in the center of a rice ball can vary. They sometimes put it in whole (with the pit/stone and all) or chop it up. Either way the candied plum they use is often very sour so be prepared if you think you are getting a sweet desert you may be in with a little bit of a shock. This shouldn’t put you off though because the savoury rice perfectly counteracts the plum and you end up with a mouthful of pure deliciousness.
7.seasoned cod roe(Mentaiko)
Aside from cod roe there is seasoned cod roe that is known as Mentako, much the same except the roe is already seasoned before hand. It is much similar to salted fish in Scandinavia. This is a perfect dish for those of us who love the savoury flavours more than the sweet a do I. You can be certain that the seasoning will be perfect with a rice ball like this.
So, there you have it, the best and most popular ingredients for Onigiri. Rice balls are now very very popular and show no signs of losing that popularity. Next time you are in Japan you should definitely check out some. Or even if you are in the west and know a good Japanese restaurant, please check them out, you will not be dissapointed.
Authentic Kaiseki Japanese Restaurant in Shibuya - Kappou Sa...
For true lovers of the exquisite elegance that is Japanese culture, a traditional kaiseki meal is an experience that should not be passed up. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese course meal, wherein each dish is an art piece made with the finest ingredients. Each dish is to be experienced with all five of your senses—the exquisite taste, the delectable aroma, the elegant appearance, the texture of the ingredients, and even the sounds of the preparation. While many may think that traditional Japanese culture can only be found in Kyoto, there are still traces to be found even in modern day...
Japanese Ice Cream: The Top 5 to Try!
Do you like ice cream? Many people love it, especially in the hot days of summer. It cools us down and cheers us up. In Japan, the total sales of ice creams for 2017 year was more than five hundred billion yen. There are various kinds of ice creams in Japan as well, and this article will introduce five must-try ice creams you should try in summer if you come to Japan. 1. Yukimi-Daifuku This is at the top of the recommendations list because it is one of the most unique ice creams in Japan. `Yukimi` means to enjoy a snow scenery, and...
Some Unusual Japanese Foods That Are Actually Good for You
Japan has the lowest obesity in the world and I believe the secret for that is in the food. A traditional Japanese diet is well balanced; they eat more fish than red meat, also plenty of fermented foods and vegetables. The Japanese diet is low in calories but also extremely nutritious. Even though all of these foods below are often called “weird” by most internationals and expats in Japan, they are super healthy and worth a try. 1. Natto Natto has been known by Japanese as a healthy food for more than 1000 years. Natto is fermented steamed soybeans mixed...
Best Bars for Foreigners in Sendai
Introduction It’s Friday night. You’re walking through the streets of Sendai, Japan. You‘ve just finished up another long day of sightseeing (or working, if you live there… or studying if you’re a student…) You could really use a break to unwind from the day so you call up your friends for a night out. Then they ask the obvious question: “Where should we go?” Before you start to fret trying to remember the names of your boss’s favorite bars and izakayas, and importantly, wondering which have the best service towards foreigners, read this! Here is a quick list of all...
Best Bars for Foreigners in Osaka
After having spent a day touring and sightseeing around various cities in Japan, there is no better way of ending the day than laying on your back as you sip a cold beer or two. If you happen to be a foreigner who is traveling around Osaka, one of the popular cities of Japan, you would surely be visiting a lot of sightseeing attractions. From the famed Osaka castle to the Dotonbori district, the city of Osaka would surely have you tired at the end of the day. For foreigners who want to spend the rest of the evening relaxing...
Izakaya Hopping in Kichijoji Harmonica Alley
Kichijoji has long been a famous tourist destination in Tokyo. Up until recently, Kichijoji has been ranked as the #1 most desirable place to live by Japanese and foreigners alike, and has a reputation for being a lovely and enjoyable place to live as well as visit. In the heart of Kichijoji, located less then minutes away from Kichijoji station’s bustling north exit, is the Harmonica Alley. Harmonica Alley (also known as “Harmonica Yokocho”), was originally a post-war black market; it now boosts over one-hundred bars, shops, and izakayas which are packed into it’s narrow streets. It continues to be...