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Onigiri (Rice Balls)

Makes 10 rice balls
Course: lunch
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: rice
Author: Aya Nishimura


  • 160 g (5 1/2 oz) salmon fillet, skinned and pin-boned
  • 5 g (1/8 oz) shiso (perilla) leaves or 10 g (1/4 oz) chives, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon sake
  • 300 g (10 1/2 oz) Japanese rice
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 10 nori sheets


  • Sprinkle a large pinch of sea salt on each side of the salmon. Drizzle the sake over the salmon and spread it over each side. Sprinkle salt over each side and massage it into the salmon. Leave the salmon for 5 hours or ideally overnight.
  • Cook the rice.
  • Preheat the grill to medium–high. Pat the salmon dry (it will have released some liquid) and grill for 5 minutes on each side. Flake the cooked salmon.
  • When the rice is ready, add the flaked salmon, toasted sesame seeds and chopped shiso or chives to the pan. Mix with a moistened rice paddle so that the rice doesn’t stick to it.
  • Sprinkle a small pinch of salt into your hand. Place about 80 g (23/4 oz) of the rice in your left hand and use your right hand to shape the rice into a pyramid. Wrap each onigiri in a nori sheet as you eat it. They’re good eaten warm or cold.


If you find the shaping process too messy, you can use plastic wrap to help. Add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt to the rice and mix well. Spread the plastic wrap on your work surface and put 80 g (2 3/4 oz) rice in the centre. You can either shape it into a pyramid or tightly twist the top to form a round onigiri.