Onigiri Japanese Rice Balls

Onigiri is one of Japan’s favourite snacks and are a fun, kid-friendly way to use up leftover rice. This recipe from Asian Inspirations is easy to make and can be varied to use up whatever you have on hand. They're a filling alternative to sandwiches in the lunchbox. 


Onigiri Rice Balls

Preparation & Cooking time: 35 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: Makes 6 servings


2 cups leftover sushi rice 
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp black/white sesame seeds (toasted)
Japanese mayonnaise (for filling)
1-2 seaweed sheets
Japanese soy sauce (for dipping)

Common fillings for Onigiri 
roast chicken/beef (finely chopped and mix well with Japanese mayonnaise)
canned tuna (mix well with Japanese mayonnaise)
sha-ke (salted cooked salmon) 
umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum)
okaka (bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce)
kombu (simmered kombu seaweed)
tarako (salted cod roe)



1 Cook rice in accordance to instructions.
2 Combine rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pour into rice with sesame seeds and mix well.
3 Cut the seaweed sheet into six strips. You may further cut the seaweed into any shape to decorate the onigiri.  
4 Place 1/3 cup of rice over the centre of the cling wrap. Gather the ends of the cling wrap and squeeze to form a ball. To add filling, press an indent into the rice, add filling and mould the rice into a triangular shape or a ball. 
5 Remove the cling wrap and cover the bottom of the onigiri with a seaweed strip. 
6 Serve with Japanese soy sauce. 


Chef's Tip from The Food Affectionist: To avoid rice sticking to your hands, rub a small amount of mayonnaise to hands before you start forming a rice ball. 


Recipe with thanks to The Food Affectionist and Asian Inspirations!

The Food Affectionist      Asian Inspirations