Having a ball with…a ball of rice
by Alexander Quebec
As a popular snack across Japan and the pacific rim, Onigiri is a simple mixture of rice and filling. They can be made into different combinations with different kinds of rice and have even spawned a new kind of Onigiri on the islands of Hawaii. Wanna learn more? Here are five fast facts on Onigiri
Onigiri ≠ Sushi
Whereas sushi is made with rice seasoned with vinegar, salt and sugar; Onigiri is made only with rice and sometimes salt. Nori seaweed is also considered optional for most Onigiri
They may have been around since the 11th century, possibly even further back
In the Diary of Lady Murasaki, the first mention of a dish similar to riceballs was made. Back then, however, they were called tonjiki. The concept, however, could be traced as far back as the Nara period of Japanese history (710-794 AD)
1980 was the first year machine made onigiri was made
At the time, machine made onigiri was considered inferior to hand made ones, as many believed that machines could not replicate the hand made process. Over time, however, the manufacturing process improved.
White rice isn’t always used
Sekihan, Maze-gohan (mixed rice) or fried rice can be used in addition to the traditional white rice.
SPAM musubi is a form of Onigiri…sort of
Made with fried Spam, Musubi is actually a Japanese verb, meaning to tie or to bind. Popular in the Islands of Hawaii, they are often sold at convenience stores, restaurants and as fundraising items all throughout the islands.
Now that you have some facts, why not give Onigiri a try today? Most Japanese supermarkets carry them, or you could make your own with this recipe here. Did we miss anything important? Let us know in the comments below.