Monday, November 8, 2010

Ume onigiri, Japanese rice balls with pickled plums

My husband has just returned from Japan, he asked me what I wanted and I said umeboshi (Japanese pickles plums), because they are difficult to find here in New Zealand. And because I had a craving for onigiri! Now, onigiri are often called rice balls, but the fact is that in Japan (and overseas) I mostly see triangular onigiri. Somehow I really like the round ones though, they look like the rice balls Kintaro's mum made for him (with a ume inside) in the story book I read to my children when they were small. They somehow feel... traditional? Funny for me to say that, since I am not Japanese :-)

To make the rice balls cook some Japanese (or sushi) rice (rinse it first, if it is suitable for sushi it will still stick even if you rinse it) and then start working it when it is still warm. Wet your hands with water, and rub them with just a little salt, then shape the balls with your palms, sticking a whole ume in the middle while you are working. Ready!

If you like you can add some nori seaweed, it tastes great and it is useful to hold your onigiri (which is eaten with your hands, like an apple). Of course I had to make some little faces for the kids!

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©