Innovative chef shows us how to create a feline friend who’s cute and delicious to boot.

The Japanese food called onigiri usually gets translated as “rice balls,” but that’s actually sort of fudging the details. Sure, some onigiri are spherical, but they can actually be other shapes too. Onigiri comes from the word nigiru, which just means “to press,” and so onigiri can also be shaped like triangles or cylinders, for example.

But calling onigiri just “pressed rice” is too vague, though, and calling them “rice balls or pyramids or barrels or other shapes” is both too vague and too long, so we usually just end up calling them “rice balls” in English. But Japanese YouTube channel Onigiri Gekijo (“Onigiri Theater”) has a reminder that you can make onigiri in any shape you want…even “cat.”

It’s actually not all that complicated to make, and the above video shows the entire process (except for cooking the rice). Once you’ve got your white rice cooked, lay it out on a piece of plastic wrap and knead it into a ball. After you’ve got a more or less circular shape, start adding contours for the cat’s nose and cheeks. Next, put some rice on a second piece of plastic wrap and knead it into the shape of the cat’s ears, which you can stick atop its head.

You’ll next make the starting lines of the cat’s mouth with extra-thin strips of nori seaweed. Onigiri Gekijo uses tweezers to stick them onto the surface of the rice without pushing so hard as to dent the kitty’s snout.

The light pink color on the tip of the cat’s nose is a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise, applied with a toothpick. And while the eyes might at first glance look like they’re made with luxurious anime heroine mascara, they’re actually iwa nori, a kind of liquidy seaweed that’s once again applied with a toothpick, and also used to add extra detail to its mouth and nose.

You could stop here if your goal is just to create a snow-white feline. However, if you’d like a little more color, and flavor, you can keep going and add more iwa nori, katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes), and fine-ground black sesame. Onigiri Gekijo uses both a spoon and a toothpick to get the visuals just right, and in the end, the result is one of the most unique onigiri we’ve ever seen!

Not a cat person? Onigiri Gekijo has a few other instructional videos, showing how to make onigiri seals

…and traditional otafuku masks.

The cat, though, is definitely the most attention-grabbing, though we suppose you could say it’s almost too realistic, so if you’re craving some character chow that’s more cartoony, there’s always our recipe for Pikachu-style hamburgers.

Source: YouTube/おにぎり劇場 via Kotaku
Insert image: Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he thinks triangular onigiri look like little rotary engines.