Onigiri is a traditional Japanese picnic lunch/ "sandwich" made with white rice--plain or lightly seasoned with salt. It is basically a rice ball with a filling like umeboshi (pickled japanese plum), seasoned salmon or bonito flakes (smoked tuna shavings). It is shaped into a triangle or oval and may be wrapped in a strip of nori (seaweed). Onigiri is plain or salted rice while the more popular sushi (also called vinegar rice) is seasoned with salt, sugar and vinegar to prevent it from spoiling.
Onigiri is so convenient to make. It is my son's favorite home lunch. He does not want to carry along a lunch box to school so he begs me to make him onigiri. I usually prepare the filling ahead to time and store it in the fridge. For this month's GYO and Royal Foodie Joust , I made this special pea salmon coconut milk onigiri with bird's eye chili and green onions from my indoor garden.
1 c coconut rice
1 c frozen peas
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 salmon fillet (about 2"x 4")
1/2 cup coconut milk
1-2 bird's eye chili, finely chopped
1 stalk green onions, chopped
pinch of nutmeg
salt and sugar to taste
black pepper (optional)
To make pea-coconut rice, cook rice in a rice cooker but replace part of the water with coconut milk. I just use 1 cup jasmine rice with 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup coconut milk and add a pinch of salt. When the rice is done, set it aside to cool. Meanwhile, thaw the frozen peas and remove the seed coat from each pea---yep, each one of them! It's a bit of work but the result is worth it. Then, finely chop the peas and mix it in with the coconut rice in a1:1 ratio.
For the filling, place the salmon fillet in a small pot with 1/2 cup coconut milk, sugar, salt, bird's eye chili, green onions and a pinch of nutmeg. Turn the heat to medium lowand gently cook the fish and let most of the liquid evaporate but don't let it dry out completely. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and sugar to taste.
Assembly: Spread some of the pea-coconut rice mix on a plastic wrap. Place about half a tablespoon of filling in the center and gather the rice around it so that it's completely enclosed and resembles a ball of rice. Press the sides of the rice ball and flatten the top and bottom to form a nice, tight triangular shape. It's really not that difficult and once you make the basic rice ball, you can ask your kids to shape it into a square or rectangle or oval. Have fun!