Assorted Stuffed Rice Balls




Onigiri are portable Japanese rice balls stuffed with a myriad of fillings like salmon, chicken, or pickled vegetables. Knowing me, however, I’m going outside the box, using flavors inspired by Penzey’s 6 Spices. They’re a great on-the-go lunch or snack and fairly simple to make. The hardest part is the rice. For best results, use a rice cooker. But since I don’t have one, this recipe uses the stovetop method which works just as well. For a bit more oomph, I suggest pan-frying the balls in oil to get a crunchy, golden brown exterior. If you’re short on time, any of the fillings can be used in sandwiches or wraps.



Vanilla — Origins




2 cups sushi rice

2.5 cups water

  • Prepare: Place rice in a pot and cover with water, stirring the rice in a circular motion with your hand. Strain through a sieve and repeat this process until the water is clear, about 3-4 times. Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes unless box instructions say not to. Strain the rice through a sieve and let drain completely for 15 minutes.
  • Cook: Combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook covered for 15 minutes or until the water has been completely absorbed. Remove from heat, fluff with a wooden spoon, place a clean kitchen towel over the pot, top with the lid again, and let stand covered for 10 minutes. While the rice cools slightly, prepare the filling (see options below).
  • Mold: Moisten both hands or line plastic wrap on work surface. Spread about 1/4 or 1/2 cup of the rice out on the palm of your hand or on the plastic wrap. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center, and form the rice mixture into a ball around it. Press firmly to stick the rice together. Form it into a ball.




1 (15-ounce) can black beans 

1 tablespoon minced jalapeño (seeds removed if desired) 

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 small onion, finely chopped 

1/2 teaspoon dried epazote 

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced 

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 


In skillet, heat garlic in 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat for 1 minute. Add onion and jalapeño, cook until soft. Add black beans with liquid, epazote, and cumin. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the corn. In a separate bowl, combine black bean mixture, cilantro, and lime juice. Season with salt to taste.




5 oz frozen cooked shrimp

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 celery stalk, minced

1 small onion, minced 

1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (seeds removed if desired) 

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup or more mayo

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon gumbo filé


Place frozen shrimp in a plastic bag. Place in colander in the sink and run cold water over them for about 10 minutes. When thawed, remove from sink and pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Finely chop the shrimp. Place butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the butter is melted, add the onion, celery, and jalapeño, cook until soft. Add the garlic and gumbo filé and cook for 1 more minute. Finally, add the shrimp and toss for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Once cooled, mix in mayo and ketchup. Season with salt to taste.




1 lb chicken

5 large garlic cloves, minced

1-inch piece ginger, minced 

1.5 tablespoons vindaloo seasoning (or curry powder) 

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1/2 red pepper, finely chopped  

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped 

1/4 cup or more mayo

2 tablespoons ketchup


In a bowl combine garlic, finger, apple cider vinegar, vindaloo seasoning, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub all over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange chicken breasts on a foil-lined baking sheet. If using skin-on chicken breasts, place them skin side up. Bake for 35 minutes until 165F, or until no longer pink in the middle. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes. Remove and discard the skin, if you used skin-on breasts, before shredding the chicken with 2 forks or your hands. In a bowl, mix together the shredded chicken, red pepper, onion, mayo, and ketchup. Season with salt to taste.



Short grain brown rice can be used instead of white sushi rice. Use 1½ cups brown rice, 2¼ cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the rice for 50 minutes, remove from the heat, and steam for 10 more minutes.


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Sources & Inspirations:

Very Well Fit

Just One Cookbook

NY Times Cooking

NY Times Cooking



Food for Thought

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