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Introducing the Secrets of Onigiri- The Ultimate Japanese Snack

This is a video by "Japanese Food Music" that introduces Japan's tuna mayo Onigiri.

Onigiri is a historical Japanese food that has been around since the Yayoi period (300 BC-250 AD). This item is loved by many people due to its simple preparation and delicious flavor.
This article will talk about the secrets of onigiri’s popularity as a supreme Japanese food, as well as methods for making delicious tuna mayo onigiri as shown in the video.

The Appeal of “Onigiri” as a Popular Japanese Meal

Image of bento
Photo:Onigiri and bento

Japan’s “washoku” (Japanese food) has been designated as an intangible cultural heritage. Within it, onigiri has gained popularity as a standard food product.

Onigiri is also referred to as “nigiri-meshi” and “o-musubi.” As one might be able to tell by its Japanese name (握る- Nigiru, meaning to press into shape), this rice-ball food is made by holding rice and squeezing it into a triangular, cylindrical, or spherical shape.
Onigiri, despite being easily made even by small children, has limitless variations in its recipes as well as a large variety of ingredients, seasonings and ways to squeeze, shape and wrap it. This is why people can eat and enjoy onigiri without ever getting bored.

Onigiri is also a type of “soul food” whose ingredients and cooking methods differ in each region of Japan, so travelers in Japan might find it worthwhile to enjoy onigiri from each area of Japan that they visit. Examples of region-specific onigiri include “Tenmusu,” which is made with tempura shrimp from Aichi Prefecture, and “Pork tamago (egg) omusubi,” a type of onigiri from Okinawa which contains pork meat and fried eggs.

Onigiri are sold at convenience stores, supermarkets, and set meal restaurants, and its easy access is a very pleasing point for onigiri lovers.
In addition, onigiri can be easily eaten for breakfast and/or with bento box meals at lunchtime. Being a standard part of bento boxes and lunch menus, onigiri is something that virtually all Japanese people have eaten, and this is due to being familiar with this cuisine ever since childhood when onigiri was made and wrapped by their own mothers.

Onigiri recipes & variations

Image of Onigiri

Onigiri is a popular Japanese food that can be made solely with the most basic of cooking ingredients such as rice, onigiri fillings, salt and nori dried seaweed wrapping.
The most popular type of onigiri, of course, is tuna and mayonnaise-flavored onigiri with tuna as its main ingredient.
Tuna mayonnaise is well known for its use not only with onigiri but also with sandwiches and cooking bread.
There are also standard onigiri riceballs such as those with bonito flakes and pickled plums, and there are even types of onigiri which involve the use of fresh seafood such as maguro tuna as well as onigiri made with fried foods.

For those of you who are worried about calories, you can still enjoy your onigiri eating experience by choosing simple salted riceballs without onigiri fillings.
Yet another appealing point of onigiri is how different onigiri fillings and methods of squeezing/wrapping can completely change the way we enjoy this food.

Let’s Try Making Tuna Mayo Onigiri!

Image of Onigiri
Photo:Making Onigiri

There are a variety of tricks and techniques that are necessary for preparing good tasting tuna mayo onigiri.

This video presents detailed instructions on methods (recipes) for making onigiri.

As shown at the beginning of this video, the number one feature of onigiri here is its preparation by cooking rice in a Japanese clay pot.
Please note that this is an absolute must for making the most delicious onigiri possible!
First, you put washed rice and water in the clay pot together with soy sauce, Japanese sake (rice wine), Mirin cooking wine and sesame oil. Then, after adding a proper amount of soup stock powder, we heat the pot to cook the rice.
We then let the cooked rice steam for about 10 minutes, during which time we prepare the tuna mayonnaise.

Canned tuna used for this part of the recipe is sold anywhere in Japan at places such as supermarkets and convenience stores. This point is explained starting at 3:49 in the video.
After draining the oil out of the tuna can, mix in small amounts of mayonnaise, soup stock powder, and soy sauce.
From there, tuck the tuna mayonnaise into some rice and squeeze it together gently.
Although not shown in the video, you can also add salt here to further enhance the flavors of the onigiri fillings.

Finally, wrap lightly roasted seaweed wrappings around the tuna mayonnaise riceball, at which point our onigiri is complete!
While the nori seaweed described here is of course an important ingredient for giving the onigiri good taste, but it is also the wisdom of our ancestors for keeping the rice from crumbling in your hands and making it easier to deliver this tasty treat to your mouth!

Please be sure to take a look at this video for a detailed look at this recipe.

Summary of Onigiri, Japan’s Ultimate Food Item

Has this article and video helped you to appreciate the appeal and popularity of Onigiri as a simple yet profound example of Japanese cuisine?

This video comes with a presentation of preparation methods for some very tasty-looking Onigiri, so be careful when watching it on an empty stomach…(lol)

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
Onigiri: The Ultimate Japanese Food, Loved by Many. A Look at the Surprisingly Unknown Appeal of This Snack, and How to Make Delicious Tuna Mayo Onigiri!
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