How to Cook and Plate Brown Rice Onigiri

Do you know the difference between white rice and brown rice? Let us explain that brown rice comes from the same rice plant as white rice. The only visible variation is in its color: rice has a barn covering over them. The fibrous coating causes the rice kernels to appear brown. When you process grains before packaging, the barn coating is removed, leaving behind white rice kernels. However, in brown rice, the barn remains present and gives a nutty flavor to the rice plus additional nutrition.

How To Cook Brown Rice? 

brown raw rice

Preparing rice is the easiest part of cooking. The only ingredient required is water. There are different techniques you can use to prepare soft fluffy brown rice. While preparing brown rice for onigiri, you would want to add a little more water to give it a sticky texture. You can steam or boil brown rice. However, keep in mind to steam rice for perfect flavor!

To boil rice, all you need is water and a pressure cooker. Rinse your rice thoroughly to remove any dust or other unwanted particles. Fill pot water; be generous here, add about 8 cups of water. It will help you prepare soft individual rice kernels. As the water starts simmering, put in your measured and rinsed rice. Let it boil for about 30 minutes. Drain excess water and let the steam settle down. After about 15 minutes, cover the pot with an air-tight lid. Keep the cooker off the heat for 20-25 minutes before lifting the lid. Remove the lid and fold the rice. Brown rice is ready to make onigiri!  

Are you using an automatic rice cooker? Make sure to follow the instructions of the manual that has mentioned the best water to rice ratio. Just make sure to soak your brown rice well before cooking them. It helps to soften the barn and make them tender and nutty.

What is Onigiri? 

brown rice onigiriOnigiri is a classical Japanese cuisine. In Japanese, nigiri means made with love and comfort. This Japanese comfort food is Omusubi or Nigirimeshi. You can think of these as Japanese rice balls in triangular shapes wrapped in rice paper. 

Almost every Japanese cuisine involves steamed rice, but each one has a different flavor and stuffing.  

These steamed rice balls are a side dish in Japan. They are available at supermarkets and marts. You can make them for school lunch or a midday snack. Many restaurants serve them. It is such a crucial part of Japanese culture that you might even see anime characters eating it. 

Fillings for Brown Rice Onigiri

half-eaten onigiri

While preparing onigiri, you will often see the chef rub salt on their fingers to keep the rice fresh for longer hours. You can fill onigiri with any flavor of your liking. Some common fillings include:  

  • Sha-ke;       

Sprinkle salt on salmon and bake it 218 degrees centigrade for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is well cooked (dry and flaky). Cut the salmon into tiny flakes and use it as your perfect filling.   

  • Umeboshi;     

Umeboshi is Japanese pickled plum. Remove the seed out of each plum using a plastic sheet. use the savor citric flesh as filing  

  • Okaka;           

Add dried bonito flakes, known as katsuobushi, to a bowl and mix it with soy sauce. Do not overfill it with soy sauce: it will overwhelm the bonito flavor.  

  • Kombu;   

It is available ready to use in markets         

  • Tuna mayo;   

For this, you can use canned tuna and mix it with Japanese mayonnaise and soy sauce. The three ingredients act as the perfect blend for onigiri filling. 

  • Tarako; pollock roe  

Like other traditional filings, you can also fill your rice balls with leftover food from the previous day, like shrimps or chicken karaage.

How to Cook Brown Rice Onigiri?

Making onigiri might sound complex but once you get hold of it becomes easier. It is your first time making onigiri rice? Check the tips below to get the best results.  

  • Freshly Steamed Rice  

Although you have options of cooking rice by boiling as well, 

It is recommended to steam rice when preparing for onigiri. Making it flavorful and easy to shape. Start shaping your onigiri while the rice is still warm.  

  • Wet Your Hands 

When folding the rice, they will stick onto your hands. To prevent this, wet your hands and keep a bowl of water near your workstation. You can use vinegar and salt as well. It will not only add flavor but also keep the rice fresh for longer hours.  

  • Do Not Squeeze Too Hard  

When preparing onigiri, the rice is soft and warm. If you apply more than the required pressure, the rice will become mushy, and the texture will not be appealing. Make sure to put a little pressure and work with soft hands. You can shape the onigiri in whatever way you like. They can be triangles or cylinders or just simple balls.  

  • Store Extra Rice  

Keeping the extra rice in the refrigerator for next time is a good idea. However, it may get hard while in the fridge. You may use wet towels to prevent this from happening. Just wrap it around your rice container before placing it inside.   

How to Serve Onigiri 

October is the harvesting month for rice. It is the perfect time to make onigiri as the rice is fresh and tastes good. Seaweed is an essential part of onigiri. After you have shaped the rice, cover it with seaweed paper. You can use a square on one side or cover the whole with a rectangle sheet.  

A good addition is to top the onigiri with whichever filling you have used inside it. You may fry your onigiri in sesame oil before wrapping to add a little crisp.

With the salted salmon filling, use Caesar salad leaves instead of seaweed to wrap the rice bowl. The refreshing smell goes perfectly with the fish flavor. To make your meal fancy, you can also add caviar on top or sesame seeds to garnish your onigiri. Onigiri can be dished out in a vertical dish or around one placed in a circle. Having soy sauce on the side can be a good addition.  

The Takeaway

Onigiri is not just a healthy snack but is fun to make. You can even include your children for a fun craft day in the kitchen, and they can help you decorate it. If you are feeling lazy but craving some onigiri, order yourself a bento box. Onigiri is an essential component of bento boxes.