Onigiri, a humble yet beloved Japanese snack, has been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries. These delicious rice balls, often wrapped in nori, are not only a quick and convenient meal but also a symbol of Japanese culture. In this recipe, Chef Eva Mrak of Spoondrift Kitchen / @spoondriftkitchen uses our Organic Alaria Flakes in addition to nori wraps for a truly ocean-inspired snack.
“I love the Alaria Flakes for this recipe because it has a mild taste that blends right into whatever you mix it with. It is incredibly nutrient-packed, plus these triangle-shaped snacks are so fun and mobile to eat, they make for a great after-school snack for kids!”
Onigiri, pronounced "oh-nee-gee-ree," can be traced back to Japan's earliest recorded history, dating as far back as the 9th century. Originally known as "tonjiki," these rice balls were created as a way to preserve rice for longer periods. Rice, being a primary staple in Japan, needed to be stored in a way that was both practical and portable.
The first onigiri were simple creations, made by pressing cooked rice into triangular or cylindrical shapes. These rice balls were then seasoned with salt, which acted as a natural preservative. They were easy to carry and provided sustenance for travelers, soldiers, and field laborers. The practicality and portability of onigiri made them an essential part of Japanese culinary culture.
Beyond its role as a convenient and nourishing snack, onigiri holds a special place in Japanese society and culture. It is often associated with maternal love and care as mothers would lovingly prepare onigiri for their children's lunches or as a snack for family outings.
For Chef Eva, onigiri's appeal extends beyond its history and cultural significance; it also boasts an impressive array of flavors and fillings.
“Onigiri was one of my favorite 7-11 snacks I’d get while traveling around Japan. They were $1, filled with a choice of salmon, tuna, or veggie, and both satisfying and quickly filling. They are incredibly easy to make with just a few ingredients!”
While the classic onigiri consists of plain rice seasoned with salt, there are countless regional and modern variations such as salmon onigiri, furikake onigiri, yaki onigiri, and tuna onigiri like this recipe Chef Eva has for you.
easy onigiri rice snacks with tuna & nautical farms organic alaria flakes by chef eva
Prep Time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 medium triangles
- 1 cup sushi rice (I prefer Nishiki brand)
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 can tuna (I buy pole-caught brands for best sustainability practices).
- Cooked salmon also works well instead of tuna
- 3-4 tbs Nautical Farms Organic Alaria Flakes (and more to taste)
- 1-3 tbs mayo
- Optional taste add-ins: sriracha, sesame oil, tamari
- Dried nori sheets
Rinse the rice well in a sieve or colander until water runs clear, then place in a pot with 1.5 cups of water. If you have a rice cooker, cook your rice per usual. For stove top, I generally bring the water-rice mix to a boil, then immediately set to low heat with the lid on for about 10 min. Taste for doneness - rice should be plump and sticky, with no remaining water in the pot. Make sure not to burn the bottom by having the heat too high or cooking for too long! I use a heavy-bottomed pot to be safe. Once the rice is cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside with the lid on to stay hydrated.
make your mixture
Mix tuna, mayo, and alaria flakes in a bowl. Add your seasonings (sriracha for heat, sesame oil, and tamari for salt). Adjust seasonings to your taste.
assemble your onigiri:
Note: they make onigiri molds to streamline this process, which are great for making a batch quickly! But for starting out, just practice making them by hand.
Lightly oil your hands so the rice doesn’t stick to them as you make the molds. Place a large spoonful of rice into one palm and make a small crater in the middle. Add your tuna mix into the crater, making sure it all stays in the middle. Now add another spoonful of rice on top of the tuna so that the entire mix is encased in rice.
Cupping your press both hands around the rice, such that the rice begins to stick together and form into a triangle or sphere shape. Tip: Press too hard and you’ll crack the shape, but not enough pressure and the rice won’t stick or form. Keep rotating it as you make them into triangles or circles. If the rice begins to stick, add a little bit more oil to your palms. Once you have made the desired shape, place a nori sheet wrapper around it and set it aside.
Either eat them immediately or wrap each one in saran wrap and store in the fridge for a later snack.