2017 No.20

召し上がれ、日本Tasty Japan: Time to Eat!


Japanese Soul Food

Photos by Aflo, amanaimages Inc., and Seven-Eleven Japan Co., Ltd.

Onigiri, or a rice ball, is a Japanese food made with freshly cooked rice and filled with tasty ingredients that is formed into shape by hand. Japanese people have loved onigiri since long ago and this food remains popular today.

Onigiri are typically shaped by hand into triangles before the filling is added and they are wrapped in nori.

Onigiri is simple to prepare and can be made ahead of time. Since the rice balls are easy to carry around and can be eaten by hand, they can be consumed anytime, anywhere. This makes them the perfect companion for trips and especially convenient for packed lunches since long ago. Onigiri is typically formed into a triangular shape and the rice is filled with such ingredients as umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum), grilled salmon, kombu (kelp), or katsuo-bushi (dried bonito) and wrapped in nori (seaweed). Nowadays, there are many variations to traditional onigiri. Different types of meat can be used as filling, and besides white rice, fried rice, rice with red beans, or rice seasoned and cooked with different ingredients can be used. The surface can also be coated with miso or soy sauce and then grilled. Food sections in department stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, and other food outlets sell a wide range of onigiri. As a fast food that can be eaten anywhere one chooses, onigiri has become Japanese soul food. The next time you take a train trip, be sure to take a few onigiri to enjoy.

A host of different onigiri in a convenience store

Onigiri fillings include umeboshi.

At home, rice just cooked is lovingly shaped by hands that have been dipped in salt water.