Best Onigiri Flavors You Should Definitely Give a Try
Onigiri is known to be one of the most popular comfort foods in Japan: Japanese rice balls with stuffing. Onigiri rice balls are made with Japanese short-grain rice that is rinsed, soaked, and steamed and then formed into triangular, round, or cylindrical shapes. It is like a healthy version of a sandwich that usually comes with different shapes - usually a triangle or sphere. Nowadays, people have become more inventive with Onigri and mold it into their desired shapes and sizes.
Stuffed with a variety of popular onigiri fillings and different flavors, Onigiri makes an ideal quick snack. They don't have the artificial sweets, fats, or other nasty preservatives that other quick meals might contain, and they're easy to make and affordable to eat. For the most comforting Onigiri, you’ll need only two ingredients. Yes, you read that right! All you need is cooked rice and nori seaweed. As for the Onigiri filling, it is recommended that you fill your Onigiri, whatever your heart desires. It can be salted salmon, pickled plum, canned tuna with Japanese mayo, salted spicy cod roe, or whatever is available in your kitchen. There are various ways to wrap the nori around the rice balls. It is best to cut a sheet of nori into thin strips and start wrapping the nori around the cylindrical or triangular rice ball shape. Note that some prefer to wrap the rice balls while they're still warm so the nori will easily stick to the rice, but most people prefer to keep the nori as crispy as possible.
What is Furikake?
Furikake, which means "to sprinkle over", is a nutty, crispy, Japanese blend commonly uses in seasoning rice. It is an aromatic and sweet rice seasoning made with sesame seeds, green seaweed flakes, katsuobushi, and nori and is typically used as a sprinkle on onigiri, soup, salad, udon noodles, and more! Furikake makes every dish taste better that's why it is called "the salt and pepper" of a Japanese kitchen. Furikake Iodine is helpful in maintaining a body’s metabolism. It also has vitamins A and B.
What are the different types of Onigiri flavors?
Here's a short list of the most popular Onigiri flavors:
Yaki Onigiri is Japanese grilled rice balls coated with sweet & savory soy sauce and a crunchy, smoky crust on the outside. It is one of the most popular types of Onigiri; that's why you can literally see them everywhere - convenient and department stores, pop-up shops on the street, carts, Izakayas, and other restaurants. These grilled rice balls are a convenient way to use up leftover rice. A common way of making Yaki Onigiri is grilling it over wood charcoal, giving it its distinct smoky-grilled flavor. Several fillings can be added, like salmon, pickled plum or tuna, but it's most commonly sold with just plain rice.
Furikake is just optional but will definitely add more flavor to your Yaki Onigiri. There are several varieties of Furikake available with some eggs, bonito flakes, spices, and other onigiri fillings which are equally delicious.
Most people say that the salted salmon onigiri recipe is the simplest, easiest, and most delicious way to make an onigiri! Only a few ingredients are needed so you can make sure that you’re using the highest quality and natural ingredients. is just one of many fillings choices you can use to make Onigiri. All you have to do is boil the salmon until browned. After boiling the salmon, you can start shaping your Onigiri according to your preference. Lastly, after the Onigiri is shaped, roll it in some sesame seeds and wrap a sheet of nori on the bottom part of the Onigiri.
Tuna Mayo Onigiri is a fluffy Japanese rice ball filled with savory tuna and mayonnaise filling - is now the modern staple of Japanese bento lunches. This type of Onigiri rice ball is stuffed with canned tuna seasoned with Japanese-style mayonnaise and a bit of soy sauce. Japanese mayonnaise has a distinct sour flavor the usual mayonnaise, similar to a salad dressing, and easily goes with steamed rice well. It has grown to become the most popular flavor of Onigiri in Japan, remarkably surpassing more classic flavors like pickled plum, tempura, and cod roe. Tuna mayo onigiri mostly relies on pantry supplies, making it a go-to for lunch or dinner. You can also try spicy tuna onigiri if you're into spicy ones. Some lemon zest is a surprisingly bright addition.
Sekihan Onigiri, also known as "Red Bean Rice," is a traditional rice dish typically served on happy occasions in Japan. The red color of the rice represents happiness and prosperity. It is glutinous rice cooked with azuki beans (to achieve its pinkish-red color) till chewy and soft, topped with a sprinkle of salt and black sesame seeds. The recipe includes following simple and easy steps. First, rinse and soak the rice, then cook over high heat until the right pressure is reached, and start to lower the heat. Steam the rice for another 10 minutes and stir gently. Note that Sekihan Onigiri can be served with or without nori seaweed.
These rice balls are made with fluffy Japanese steamed rice, sesame seeds, and chopped pickled plums. Umeboshi is a tangy Japanese pickled ume plum that is usually used as a condiment or for plain rice bowls and bento. Japanese plums are typically used as a natural sweetener in several meals to lessen the amount of sugar used. Onigiri is a triangular-shaped rice ball salted, gently compressed, and wrapped in a nori sheet. The salty flavor from the pickled plums adds a nice punch to simple rice balls and bringing out the overall taste of the food and delivering a subtle tangy of its own. It is really irresistible to fall in love with its savory, tasty, and nutty flavor.
This Pickled Mustard Greens Fried Rice, also known as Takana Chahan—is a popular regional dish from Kyushu. It is made by pickling the mustard's peppery leaves, which helps keep its mildly spicy flavor and appetizing crunch while minimizing its natural bitterness. is usually used and combined with other seasonings in side dishes, pasta, ramen, fried rice, or stir-fries. This tasty pickle with simple fried rice can also be filled with vegetarian onigiri fillings and is packed with comfort and plenty of flavors!
For a satisfying Takana Onigiri, all you need to do is chop the pickled mustard greens into small pieces and stir-fry them with sesame oil, chili, and sesame seeds. You can also add some scrambled eggs for extra protein and a colorful presentation. Note that you will need a decent amount of cooking oil to have a fluffy egg.
What Are Tarako and Mentaiko?
Tarako and mentaiko are both traditional Japanese seafood ingredients made of pollock roe from the Alaskan pollock, thus, tarako and mentaiko are also called cod roe. Tarako and Mentaiko are usually interchangeable terms in most recipes - one is salted and one is spicy. There are a few different types of tarako and mentaiko that are available depending on your personal preference.
Tarako is a specialty from northern Japan and is believed to have been eaten by people of the early Edo period. It is basically a salted pollack roe-based seafood product used as a popular drinking snack and can be a condiment in various recipes. Tarako is usually available raw and identified by its color, a nude, almost neutral beige with light pink undertones.
Tarako is not just an ordinary seasoning, it may also support good development for newborns. Tarako is known to improve brain function too. It contains vitamin A, riboflavin, ascorbic and folic acid, pyridoxine, and thiamine.
4 Ways To Cook With Tarako
There are a few ways to use this affordable "caviar" in Japanese recipes:
Onigiri: Tarako is a common filling or side for onigiri or Japanese rice balls.
Eggs: Tarako can also add flavor to your ordinary scrambled eggs that complete your bento box.
Pasta: Tarako pasta has cod roe mixed with melted butter or olive oil and soy sauce to make pasta sauce. The pasta is typically garnished with thin strips of nori or shiso leaves.
Potatoes: Fold some salted cod roe into mild dishes like mashed potatoes. The usual Japanese potato salad might include cooked carrots, cucumbers, and ham.
Salad: It is a perfect combination of Tarako that has a rich flavor with the taste of cod, the delectable blend of mayonnaise, the freshness of perilla leaves and the aroma that white sesame has. A coleslaw salad with a great balance of mayonnaise and fresh ingredients makes it more satisfying to eat.
Mentaiko is often mistaken for tarako. The real difference is that the Mentaiko's roe is marinated in various spices and chilies to produce a unique flavor, while Tarako has only been marinated in salt. Mentaiko comes in a range of colors from pink to bright red, which is the indicator of the spiciness levels; the redder, the spicier it will taste. It has a salty flavor with soft eggs that don’t pop and a spicy kick. Its marinating process provides its savory, salty, and a bit of spicy flavor, which is a perfect combination with its creamy texture.
Mentaiko is available in most Japanese convenience stores, and it comes up in various forms such as paste, frozen and dried, and even mentaiko sauce. Mentaiko is proven to contain minerals such as Zinc which supports cell regeneration; iron which carries oxygen all over the body; calcium for bones; and also potassium, which maintains our blood pressure normal.
4 Ways To Cook With Mentaiko
Mentaiko can be eaten either raw or cooked. Here are some ways:
Onigiri: Mentaiko is one of the basic flavors of Japanese rice balls.
Spaghetti: It is a popular topping on Japanese-style spaghetti which is often served with strips of nori. Just start boiling well-salted water, and then prepare the sauce while waiting for the pasta to cook. For the sauce, just mix all the ingredients into a bowl, and you may start adjusting the amount of liquid, oil, mentaiko, and cheese according to your preference.
Donburi: Flavors like Mentaiko that have a strong taste are good for rice bowls.
Yakitori: Mentaiko is commonly used as a topping for grilled chicken at most Yakitori restaurants.
How To Store Tarako and Mentaiko?
Tarako and Mentaiko can be kept cod roe in the fridge or freezer. If you've decided to keep it in the fridge, you'll need to consume it within 2-3 days. It is recommended to put it in an airtight container for a longer shelf life. If freezing, it can be kept for two to three months, and after defrosting it in the refrigerator, it can be kept for two to three days in the fridge, and it's ready to go.
Tips for Preparing Onigiri
Making Onigiri is just a simple process, but there are a few more ways to make it easier:
Wet your hands. Onigiri is easier to make with damp hands. Get a small bowl of water and place it near your work surface while you shape the rice balls. Use the water to dampen your hands equally so that the rice will not stick to them.
Put salt in your hands. After damping your hands, shower a few pinches of salt in both of your palms. While you are shaping the Onigiri, the salt will coat the rice and help it maintain its freshness longer.
Use a mold. Silicone molds, which are available online or in some grocery stores, allow you to make a variety of shapes with an easy, quick process.
Use plastic wrap. If you are having a hard time figuring out how much pressure to help the rice keep its shape, a sheet of plastic wrap can make it a lot easier. Just put the rice on the plastic and pull it tightly and make your way to its direction to mold.
A rice cooker will save the day. You don’t need the rice cooker to make Onigiri, but having firm, fluffy rice to mold will make the process a lot easier.
Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Onigiri
Have you ever tasted an onigiri? If not, you're definitely missing out! Here are some facts you need to know about Onigiri!
An onigiri (おにぎり) is a rice ball.
Yes, the translation of Onigiri is "rice ball"; the shape of the Onigiri is not always a ball. It varies in different shapes and sizes depending on your preference. Onigiri makes the rice portable and easy to consume, as well as preserving it and having it eventually on your bento.
The first machine-made Onigiri was made in the year 1980
In 1980, machine-made Onigiri was considered low-quality rice ball, as many believed that machines could not make a perfect Onigiri than the hand-made process. Nowadays, machine has improved a lot.
It is widely known around Japan as a side dish or a main meal.
Onigiri is definitely all-around Japan - convenience stores, restaurants, mini marts, and supermarkets. Since it is made up of rice, it is most commonly eaten as a side dish or a main meal.
The rice used in making Onigiri doesn't always have to be white rice.
Traditionally, Japanese onigiri is made with plain rice. The rice for making Japanese rice balls could be fried rice, white rice mixed with different seasonings like rice vinegar, sugar, salt, brown rice, and takikomi gohan.
A convenience store-Onigiri may be a bit challenging to open.
Famous convenience stores or mini-marts will most likely store Onigiri in their light meal corners. Convenience store Onigiri's dried nori does not touch the rice when unopened. Be careful when opening one.
Have a great and satisfying Onigiri experience!
Onigiri is usually eaten like the usual sandwich; just pick it up and enjoy every bite. For those who haven't eaten one yet or eating onigiri for the first time, note that the nori is typically crispy and might make a mess if you're eating it too quickly. It is advisable to wait for a couple of minutes before eating; the nori will stick better to the rice, making it easier and enjoyable to eat.
Onigiri is one of the best-loved Japanese snack food, thanks to its convenience. You can make it at home or buy some at almost any local convenience store. The fact that you can choose the filling according to your personal preference explains its convenience. There are a lot of ways to enjoy your Onigiri. You can make different Onigiri with every delicious onigiri filling you like together with your friends and significant other, bring it to school with your bento box, or simply enjoy it yourself.
Onigiri Experience Set is now available on our website! Get yours today and make your ultimate Onigiri meal!
- Choosing a selection results in a full page refresh.
- Press the space key then arrow keys to make a selection.
Your cart -
Your cart is currently empty.