How To Make Onigiri Japanese Rice Balls

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Today we will show you how to make onigiri Japanese rice balls. Onigiri are Japanese rice balls, shaped into triangular or round shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed ). They are much loved in Japan, where people eat them simple, or with different fillings, like fish, chicken, pickled fruit and vegetables.

Convenience stores and supermarkets all across Japan are packed with these little rice balls. They are also very common in homemade bentos ( lunchboxes ), which Japanese people carefully prepare for their family or themselves. They are so popular that you can even find onigiri shaped toys and plushies in stores.

You can put almost anything inside an onigiri, but today we’ll stick to one of the most popular types in Japan: tuna and mayonnaise filled onigiri.


How to make onigiri Japanese rice balls – ingredients:

  • 250 g uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 canned tuna
  • A few sheets nori seaweed

How to make onigiri Japanese rice balls?

Wash the rice. Put it in a large bowl and wash it by mixing it with your hands. When the water becomes cloudy, pour the water away and wash it again. Do this 3-4 times, until the water doesn’t become as cloudy anymore.


1. The most important part: making Japanese rice. If you have a rice cooker, it’s simple. Put the rice inside, cover it just a bit with water and turn the cooker on. You don’t need to add salt to the rice as the tuna’s saltiness will be enough.

The amount of water depends on how you like your rice. For soft rice, add 250 ml of water. For dry, harder rice, add around 200 ml of water. You can also refer to the instructions of your rice cooker.

After the rice is done, leave it to steam about 10 minutes, without opening the lid.


If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the rice inside a saucepan and put the same amount of water as directed in the previous step, depending on your preferences. Turn the heat to high until the water boils. Once you hear it boiling, turn down the heat to minimum and let the rice simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t peek inside at all! If you open the lid, the rice won’t turn out well.

2. After the rice is done, put it in a bowl and leave it on the table for a few minutes, until it cools down a bit. In the meanwhile, wet your hands so the rice won’t stick to them when you shape the rice balls.


3. Take about two tablespoons of rice in your hands and make a little dent in the middle. Add a teaspoon of mayonnaise.

4. Add one teaspoon of tuna

5. Add two more tablespoons of rice over the tuna and mayonnaise and shape everything into a triangle.


6. Add a strip of nori seaweed, like in the image below.


7. Put the rice balls on a plate (and if you like, add some tuna, mayonnaise, and sesame seeds). Your onigiri Japanese rice balls are done!

Enjoy this delicious Japanese food!

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