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Onigiri, or rice balls, are one of the easiest ways to dabble in Japanese cooking. It’s almost as easy to make homemade onigiri as it is to buy from a store. The popularity of the simple rice ball is so great, there is even a store that sells one from each of the 47 prefectures.

In the RocketKitchen, our aim is to show you the best way to make fabulous Japanese dishes right in your own home. This time, we’re going to share with you foolproof way to create the best-tasting onigiri you’ve ever made. Hope you’ve got some rice cooking–it’s time to level-up that onigiri!

Trust us when we say this will be the best rice ball you will ever have. In fact, make the best onigiri you’ve ever made to compare it with. Or if you live in Japan, head over to the nearest convenience store. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

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Back? Good. Introducing the sesame oil onigiri! All you need are two things, an onigiri and some sesame oil. Take an onigiri and follow these instructions:

Step 1- On one side of the onigiri, brush on some sesame oil.


That’s right, that’s all you need to do. Yes, we know that sounds like a joke, but it’s unbelievable how a little bit of sesame oil changes your onigiri game and makes it taste exponentially better.

The best part about this “recipe” is how well it goes with every kind of onigiri filling. Your old standbys, like salmon, tarako (fish roe), mentaiko (fish roe with spiced red pepper), okaka (bonito), and tuna mayo will taste great. It even goes well with strong-flavored fillings like ikura (salted salmon roe) and umeboshi (sour plum)! Seriously, get yourself some sesame oil (known in Japan as “goma abura” if you need to ask for it) and give this a try –  you won’t regret it!

Salmon filling!

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Mentaiko filling (fish roe with spiced red pepper)

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Takikomi rice (soy sauce and/or dashi seasoning)

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The secret to the best ever onigiri is making sure you don’t spread too much sesame oil on there. It is possible to have too much of a good thing! Our kitchen found, through trial and error, covering only one side of the onigiri gave it the best flavor. Feel free to try a little experimentation yourself though.

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For those of you who enjoy nori (dried seaweed) on their onigiri, we recommend that you brush the oil on the rice and not the nori, that way you can keep your hands clean. See? We take this food business seriously!

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If you are hand-making the onigiri, meanwhile, try putting a bit of the oil on your hands as you shape the rice ball, that way you can get a nice coating all over it. But again, be careful that you don’t overpower the other flavors.

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This might be the easiest recipe we’ve ever featured in the RocketKitchen, but don’t let the simplicity fool you, it still packs a great flavorful taste, and you’ll be sure to impress all your friends at your next Japanese potluck picnic.

Photos © RocketNews24
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