Just over a year ago I tried onigiri for the first time. The simple Japanese rice ball, wrapped in seaweed and with a variety of filling options is quick and comforting – a little like the Western sandwich. Oh, how I’d loved to have tried this in Japan, or even from an authentic Japanese kitchen, but no, my onigiri was a cheap supermarket version that tasted surprisingly delicious. Knowing there was little chance of trying the authentic version anytime soon, I added “make onigiri” to my list, where it’s stayed, ever since…until now!
We received a copy of Meine Grüne Japanische Küche (vegetarian Japanese dishes) from a lovely friend, so we decided to try the mushroom onigiri recipe from there and a walnut and miso version from Meera Sodha’s East. The vegetarian Japanese book by Stevan Paul is brilliant and thorough, which proved to be our downfall – we didn’t have the ingredients required! Instead, I made a base batch of rice that would do both versions and stuck to the original recipe as much as I could.
I really enjoyed shaping the sticky sushi rice and ended up being a great project together, as we developed our own little factory line. The Meera Sodha ones were plain rice, with the walnut-miso filling placed inside, then shaped like a traditional rice ball with a slice of nori wrapped around. These were by far the easiest to shape and handle and looked really effective. The Stevan Paul versions were a little trickier. Rather than including a filling, the sautéed mushrooms were chopped and mixed in with the rice creating a lot wetter mixture. The overall aesthetic looked better, but oh boy were they a pain to shape!
I served them with some edamame with toasted sesame seeds on top, and they were such a fun and delicious snack food to make! I wouldn’t hesitate to make these again for weekday lunches or to have them on-hand as nibbles for when the mood strikes. They are a quick and portable ready-made meal, all in a convenient little package. The walnut and miso version tasted a lot better to me, but I’m not a mushroom fan, so that was to be expected. Another successful kitchen adventure!