Onigiri is from the Japanese word “Nigiri”, which means grip. It is made from Japanese white rice formed into cylinder shapes and wraped in nori (seaweed in Japanese). What is the filling then? Traditionally, it is filled with Sake (salted salmon), Ume or umeboshi (pickled plum), Konbu (kelp), Tarako (cod roe), and etc. Sometimes, Japanese people also love the non-filled one, which means just a ball of rice with salt and nori. So, let’s know more about onigiri and the kind of onigiri that you can easily find at any convenience stores in Japan!
Photo: Julia Frost on Flickr
In the 11th century, it is known that people eat rice balls. Unfortunately, at that time, it is called as tonjiki, and usually eaten for picnic with their friends or family. From Kamakura period to early Edo period, onigiri was used as quick meal in Japan. I also think that it is really easy to make onigiri. You can make it by yourself! At the Samurai period, it is known that onigiri was wrapped in bamboo leaves. The first onigiri was a simply ball of rice flavored with salt. You can still find it at any convenience stores in Japan.
FOR THE RICE
Photo: Shoko Muraguchi on Flickr
The normal onigiri is usually used cooked white rice. Sometimes, Japanese people also use the cooked mixed rice or fried rice to make some kind of onigiri too. I prefer the normal one, cooked white rice. Japanese rice is really delicious!
FOR THE FILLINGS
As I said before, they usually use something salty or sour for the fillings of onigiri. These are the most common fillings for onigiri!
No filling, salt only
Tuna with mayonnaise
Shrimp with mayonnaise
Chicken with mayonnaise
Ikura or salted salmon roe in Japanese
Roasted and crumbled Mackerel
Tarako or cod roe in Japanese
Ika or squid in Japanese
Umeboshi or pickled plum in Japanese
Roasted green onion, etc.
ONIGIRI FROM CONVENIENCE STORES
Photo: Nullumayulife on Flickr
There are so many types of onigiri that you can find at any convenience stores in Japan. My favorite types are the chicken mayonnaise, salted salmon and tarako (cod roe in Japanese)! Some of my friends also love the onigiri, which is made from fried rice. For the best and the most recommended onigiri from convenience stores is the “Sake Harami”! So delicious! You can see the photo of it below! “Sake” means salmon, and “Harami” means meat cut in Japanese. You can find it at Lawson in Japan. Try it, ok?
You can also make onigiri by yourself! Actually, I am living in Japan now, and sometimes when I go to picnic with my homestay’s mom, she usually makes some onigiri for us. First of all, it is cheaper than convenience store’s onigiri. It is also fun to make your own onigiri! Maybe, it is a tradition in Japan that they usually make onigiri before they go picnic with their family or friends. Such a lovely tradition, isn’t it?