Following my husband’s recent solo visit to Tokyo I thought, what fun to match it up with a recipe.
Many aspects of Japanese culture could be summarized as a balance of precision and minimalism. The approach to food is a delicious study of these contrasts. Traditional Japanese cuisine offers dishes that are beautiful and complex yet healthy and practical, exemplifying an effortlessly natural simplicity of diverse ingredients.
Onigiri — pronounced oh-knee-gree — are portable little bundles of rice often eaten as a snack or light lunch on-the-hoof. Nigiri means “to squeeze,” which is how onigiri are formed into the classic triangles, balls or cylinders — either by hand or with the help of shaped molds.
Some onigiri are filled with tasty surprises, like sashimi-grade tuna, salmon roe, avocado, or umeboshi (Japanese sour salted plums). Some have a strip of nori (dried seaweed) at the base to keep your hands free from the sticky rice, and some are wrapped entirely in nori or fresh shiso leaves. Other onigiri are just rice, but with seasonings mixed in prior to shaping or sprinkled on top after, perhaps furikake (a mixture of sesame seeds, nori and other seasonings), sakebushi (dried salmon flakes), or yukari (red shiso powder).