Shio Kombu Onigiri (Japanese Seasoned Kelp Rice Ball)

READY IN: 4hrs 50mins
SERVES: 2
UNITS: US

INGREDIENTS

Nutrition
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DIRECTIONS

  • Before you start cooking, you will need to prepare the rice ahead of time. Wash the brown rice 1-2 times then soak in water for 3 hours. I've used brown rice to make this rice ball but you can also use Japanese white rice. If using white rice, you only need to soak it in water for 30 minutes before using.
  • Prepare the dried kelp or kombu by soaking it in water 15-20 minutes before using.
  • Prepare the rice seasonings by combining a tablespoon each of awamori, mirin and soy sauce plus a cup of water. If you can not find awamori which is an Okinawan rice wine, you can use sake.
  • Use a strainer to drain the rice for about about 5 minutes. Put it in a heavy-bottomed pot then pour the liquid mixture.
  • Turn on the heat using medium then put the pot with its lid on top.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low then simmer until most of the water evaporates.
  • Turn off the heat then keep the pot covered for another 10 minutes. Never open the pot while cooking the rice. Keep it covered especially after you've turned off the heat. Frequently opening the pot will prolong the cooking process and the rice may not cook completely.
  • Remove the lid then mix the rice. Let it cool until you can hold the rice at the palm of your hands. While waiting for the rice to cool, you can cook the shio-kombu filling.
  • Start by preparing the kombu seasoning by mixing 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of mirin, a tablespoon of sake and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix the ingredients well until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Heat a pan using medium. Use a strainer to drain the soaked kombu then put it in the pan. Add the seasoning mixture then bring the liquid to a boil while stirring occasionally.
  • Once it boils, reduce the heat to low then cook until the liquid evaporates.
  • Once most of the liquid is gone, add a tablespoon each of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Stir well and cook until the liquid is reduced to half then remove from the heat source. Let it cool before you start to make the rice ball.
  • Start by wetting your hands with water. It would be helpful if you prepare a bowl of water and a clean towel near you when making onigiri. The water will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands while the towel can be used to wipe your hands.
  • Spoon out about a handful of seasoned rice and put it at the top of the palm of your hands.
  • Put about a teaspoon of the shio kombu in the middle then press the rice so the filling will be covered with rice in the middle. You can form a ball-like shape onigiri with the shio kombu filling in the middle.
  • Use one palm of your hand to support the base of the onigiri. The other hand will help to shape the onigiri into a somewaht-traingular shape. Press firmly but not too much. Just enough so that the onigiri will hold its shape and will not break. Do not press firmly as the rice might become hard when the rice ball cools down completely.
  • Cut out a rectangle from the nori sheet big enough so that it will reach the middle part of each side of the rice ball holding the base. Press the nori sheet onto the rice ball then wait for it to stick with the rice then you can serve.
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