National Rice Ball Day

Never in a hundred years would I have thought we’d all be staying at home, getting bored and trying to figure out how to keep busy. But when you think about it, if you look at it as a chance to learn something new, it could be a super productive period in our lives, and we can look back on these days and say, “That’s when I learned how to make a rice ball!”

April 19th is National Rice Ball Day—did you know there was such a thing? To celebrate, I decided to try making a special rice ball that I had never eaten before. What you see here is an Okinawan rice ball called Pork Musubi; and it was gooood! I got the idea from TabiEats, these YouTubers from Hawaii. The secret to this rice ball is the miso paste dressing, which believe it or not, outshines the Spam®!! (and I guess pork musubi is a good name; it’s very different from Spam® musubi)

All you need to make this exotic Okinawan onigiri is some miso paste, some fried Spam®, a scrambled egg, a sheet of nori (seaweed) and of course, hot steamed rice. Try to fry the egg into a flat square shape if you can. It helps if you can use a rectangle fry pan, like this one that I borrowed from my wife. Ha!

Then make the Okinawan style sweet miso by adding sugar and mirin (sweet rice wine) to the paste.

(miso sauce)
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp mirin
1 tbsp miso

Ingredients all ready to assemble

Lay a thin bed of hot rice on a sheet of nori.

Place the egg and Spam® on one side of the onigiri, and spread the miso paste on the other half like this.

Then simply fold it over and you’re done!

So easy, even I did it and it was so ONO! (Hawaiian for yummy) I was absolutely floored by how the sweet miso was the perfect complement to the Spam®, and the combination gave flavor to the egg and rice at the same time. It was like a Spam® and eggs breakfast wrapped in a rice ball!

I also did some more traditional onigiri: one with katsuobushi (bonito flakes), one with tuna mayo, and one with umeboshi (pickled plum)

You can find all kinds of onigiri fillings online, but these happen to be easy to make and I like them all. Drizzle a bit of shoyu (soy sauce) onto the katsuobushi to season it. Add mayo (Japanese mayo preferred) and a dash of shoyu to the tuna mix. Umeboshi can be found at most Asian supermarkets. Lightly season the rice by getting some salt (this is optional) on your hands that have been moistened with water. The key to molding your onigiri is to keep your hands slightly wet so the rice doesn’t stick.

Place a bit of the filling onto the center of the rice, and start making triangles!

Wrap the nori and it’s done. There are different nori wrapping methods you can follow; personally I don’t think it needs to be a work of art. Onigiri is supposed to be a simple food. I swear, you really can’t go wrong because the taste reward is so much greater than the easy work you have to put in. Here’s my trio!

Happy National Rice Ball Day everyone!


All images by Bert Tanimoto

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About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father (still) of two youngish (but now young adult) kids. Zojirushi enthusiast and professional writer. California resident with roots in Hawaii and Japan. Classic rock, popcorn movies, audio books, spam, sushi and cone filtered coffee. Guilty pleasures include donuts and pop bands like ABBA and Wham! Don't laugh, you should see my vinyl collection--I give hair bands and prog equal credit.

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