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Feb 23, 2017

Easy Yaki Onigiri Recipe { 焼きおにぎり }

焼きおにぎり

Yaki onigiri are something I always order at Japanese pubs! Grilled coated in soy sauce, served hot with a dab of melting butter, yaki onigiri are crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and a pleasure to eat. So overpriced in pubs, but nothing compares to the smoky flavours the onigiri picks up from meat or fish previously cooked on the same grill. Mmm…


Recently I received glorious news from a teacher at work – you can freeze yaki onigiri! Say whaaaat??? Not that I ever have leftovers on the rare occasion I make yaki onigiri, but today the craving struck me and I headed straight home after work to make a double batch!

In case you are wondering, onigiri are those little triangle shaped rice balls, a super popular lunch and convenience food in Japan. ‘Yaki’ means ‘grilled’. So yaki onigiri translates as ‘grilled rice balls’. In my opinion, all the best foods in Japan have the word ‘yaki’ in them; yakitori, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, teriyaki, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, yakiniku…

Yaki onigiri are super simple, once your rice is cooked, you can whip up some yaki onigiri in ten minutes! Below I’ve shared a recipe for making basic yaki onigiri, and instructions for freezing and reheating your yaki onigiri. Go on, give it a go.
YAKI ONIGIRI

Easy Yaki Onigiri




INGREDIENTS

* Cooked sushi rice or short grain rice
* Soy sauce
Optional:
* Oil or butter for grilling
* Butter for serving
* Salt for plain onigiri


METHOD

  1. Cook your rice as per instructions.
  2. Shape into onigiri triangles. It is optional whether you salt your hands or not as you will be putting soy sauce on your onigiri later.
  3. Heat the grill to medium temperature, lightly grease with butter or oil if you like, and place your onigiri on top. Let them grill for several minutes on one side. Don’t move them. If you’re worried about the heat grill them on low for longer.
  4. Turn your onigiri over and grill the other side for several minutes. Again, let them rest, don’t check constantly and move them.
  5. Baste one side of your onigiri with soy sauce. Don’t drown them!
  6. Grill the onigiri again, basted side down. Repeat steps 5 and 7 with the other side of the onigiri. If you prefer a strong soy flavour to your onigiri, continue to baste and grill each side until it is as you like it.
  7. Serve your yaki onigiri hot off the grill with a dab of butter.


TIPS

Grilling your onigiri after you cook meat or fish in a pan adds an absolutely amazing flavour! If you think of it, next time you cook meat freeze some drippings and use it to grease the grill when you make your onigiri. You can use other sauces instead of soy sauce. Soy sauce is most common, but yaki onigiri would be delicious made with any smokey, salty sauces. I’ve heard that yaki onigiri came about as a way to enliven day old rice balls that had gone slightly stale and crunchy. Don’t hesitate to grill any onigiri, regardless of the filling, and turn them into yaki onigiri. No need to put a dab of butter on onigiri that you plan to freeze. You can add it when you reheat them to eat.

How to freeze yaki onigiri:

After cooking your yaki onigiri and while they are still warm, wrap each individual onigiri tightly in cling wrap.
Place the wrapped onigiri in a zip lock bag or seal-able container. Freeze.

How to reheat yaki onigiri:
Reheating your onigiri is easy. Simply microwave until warmed through. Most microwaves have a warming setting. Do leave each onigiri in the plastic wrap while you reheat them otherwise they will dry out.

Whatever you do, don’t leave your onigiri to thaw! Whether you plan to eat your onigiri immediately or later the same day, you need to reheat them in the microwave from frozen. Microwaving them preserves the texture of your onigiri. If you let them defrost, the outside will be crunchy, and not because you grilled them, and the inside will be mush. You can thaw your onigiri in the microwave, pop them in your lunch box and eat them later in the day for lunch at work.

 

I’ve always been impressed by the busy teachers who stay at work until 9pm yet still have cute and delicious looking onigiri in their lunch each day. Lies all lies! Apparently the secret is making a whole batch of onigiri on the weekend and freezing them to microwave each morning and pack in bentos for lunch. They look so moist and lovely, I’d never have guessed. The secret is out and now we can all enjoy yaki onigiri whenever the craving strikes! Cheers also to making lunch more convenient, and fooling everyone into thinking we’ve totally got our lives organised.

Happy grilling!

{ Ashes }

P.S. Make yaki onigiri for your food cautious friends when they visit you in Japan. I've yet to have anyone decline or not finish their homemade yaki onigiri!



Ashes

Ashes

Travel, university exchange, JET Programme, eikaiwa, and a baby in Japan! In my five years here, I feel as though I've collected a few experiences worth sharing.


3 Comments

  • Saitama

    on Feb 23

    Oh wow! Even "can't cook, won't cook" me, can manage this. Thanks for posting

  • Ashes

    on Feb 24

    @Saitama You definitely can! I highly recommend stopping by DAISO and buying an onigiri press if you don't have one already. Saves scalding your hands on hot rice and battling wonky shaped onigiri.

  • Amandee

    on Apr 25

    I never thought about how easy this actually is! Also, your food photography is on point.