Mini Onigiri

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The last time I posted anything food-related that didn’t feature cookbooks was October of 2014 (this delicious cashew milk that promptly made me break out in hives after overdosing on it for two days — I can eat the nuts by the bucketful without any issues, so that incident was a mystery).

I give you mini onigiri — which translates to rice ball, though the literal meaning is more along the lines of “squeezed” or “clasped”. They are also known as omusubi. I felt that my diminutive snack deserved a post of its own, just because it’s so darn adorable. Standing a smidgen higher than an inch, these tiny seaweed-adorned rice morsels were a runaway hit at K’s birthday party. It’s been two days since the festivities, yet I can’t stop making them. On a slightly more practical level, they would be a fabulous school lunchbox addition. Have the kiddos in your life resumed school yet? We have three more weeks to go till K starts fourth grade, and my mind is full of fall clothes and cute lunches.

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You’d think that these would be incredibly labor intensive, but they’re super fun and fast to make. The secret weapon is this handy dandy mold:

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I can’t remember where I got it since I’ve had it forever, but I did find online the other cube-shaped mold that I don’t use as much because I prefer the classic rounded triangular shape. This one seems to come close, though I’m not sure if it’s as awesome as mine. As I was searching for onigiri molds, I encountered a dazzling array of options — this penguin set sort of blows me away.

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First, I cooked some rice; for the ones in the photos, I blended in a mixture of sesame seeds and nori flakes after the rice was done, but I normally just add a little salt. Then I snipped several strips of nori or seaweed (roughly 3/4″ x 2″). Next, I scooped a few tablespoons of rice into the mold and packed the rice in. Push the mold out of the clear casing, slap on a strip of nori and voila! Yum, yum, yum. So far, I haven’t come across a soul who hasn’t delighted in these bite-sized onigiri — highly recommended!

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11 thoughts on “Mini Onigiri

  1. Thanks for this. My older daughter will be starting grade 4 in 3 weeks too, and for the first time she will have to bring a lunch! I need ideas. I don’t think I could buy a mold ,but I can make some less aesthtically pleasing balls by hand. What would you serve with it though? It would be so odd to open your lunch box and have onigiri and a turkey sandwich wouldn’t it?

    Congratulations on the successful party!

    1. Thanks, Max! They’re actually quite easy to make by hand too – that’s the only way my mom does it. She likes to use plastic wrap when shaping the rice balls so her hands won’t get sticky :-).

      As for what to include with the onigiri — anything goes! I’ve included fruit/veggie salad, cut up cheese stick, pretty much whatever I have on hand ;-). You should have seen some of the combos my mom included in my lunch when I was growing up. Pasta + onigiri + potato chips comes to mind…

  2. Because our family is from Hawaii, we also love SPAM musubi. There’s a cute shop in SF called Onigilly that makes several varieties that are delicious.

    I don’t know if your site allows pictures in the comments, but I made some little plush onigiri that I thought were cute 🙂

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  3. my Katie would love these! She takes seaweed and cooked rice to school for lunches occasionally, and these would definitely up the “cute” factor!

    1. I bet Katie would totally love the minis, Lucinda. Miniaturizing food is always a hit, but it’s especially appreciated by teen girls, I find :-).

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