Onigiri (おにぎり) or Omusubi or just Musubi if you are from Hawaii are rice balls formed with steamed rice. There are different types of fillings and toppings with some wrapped in Nori or dried seaweed. In this recipe we use broiled salmon skin, shiso, Takuan (pickled daikon), furikake, green onion and stuff it with Umeboshi (梅干) or pickled plum. Perfect for kids lunch, adult lunch or an afternoon snack. Japanese comfort food at its' finest.
Salmon Skin Onigiri
In the diverse cuisines that make up the Hawaii food culture, traditional Onigiri still exists. However, it has evolved into the Musubi with a recognizable rectangular shape. The basic components of Onigiri “rice balls” are steamed rice, filling, a seaweed element and the favored accoutrement, Umeboshi (梅干), or pickled plum. These “Ume” come in different shapes and sizes from perfectly round to the size of a large shriveled Kyoho grape. They are the quintessential condiment when it comes to Japanese cuisine. Umeboshi can also come in paste form and is used as a flavoring for Furikake (振り掛け) rice seasoning and the dish Ochazuke.
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What inspired me was figuring out creative ways to utilize salmon skin. Salmon skin once it has been scaled and cooked is completely edible. This works with our CrossEat philosophy of minimizing waste. It carries the same health benefits as salmon if not more. Many of the omega-3 fatty acids are located in the skin which is filled with this healthy oil. If you have not followed my seven days of salmon, I have been preparing dishes with Ora King Salmon purchased online Crowd Cow. Ora King Salmon come from the pristine waters of New Zealand raised in environmentally cohesive, sustainable aquaculture farms. It is a high quality sashimi grade salmon that can be used for almost any application. Used by many of the top chefs and sushi bars in the world, the buttery flavor, marbled firm texture and mild taste is just incredible.
When do you eat Onigiri?
I have to admit that I had a lot of fun with this recipe. It is the food that many Japanese kids in Japan and the U.S. eat growing up. I used to pack smaller versions of these in bento boxes for school lunches. My son used to love making the other kids jealous with his custom made meals. It is a perfect snack during the day, late at night or a companion alongside many different foods. I started to think about the Onigiri combinations until my mouth was watering. You can make these and bring them to the next family get together. Onigiri go perfectly with Koda Farms Mochiko flour fried chicken, shoyu hot dogs, teriyaki chicken, poke, butterfish and many other dishes that we enjoy. The only recommended kitchen gadgets are a rice cooker and a mold.
Onigiri Mold or two. They come in different sizes depending on how big you want to make them.
Cooking the Salmon Skin
Preheat oven or toaster oven to broil. Lay the salmon skin flat with the skin side up on foil. Lightly season with salt and place on a middle rack in the oven.
Broil for 10 – 15 minutes. I had some extra scraps of salmon meat that I cooked with the skin.
Let it cool for five minutes. Chop finely and set aside till ready to make your Onigiri.
I recommend using high quality Japanese rice like Hitomebore or Ubara. Measure out 2 cups dried rice and steam in a rice cooker following the normal instructions. Now, onigiri usually does not contain vinegar like sushi rice. However, I love the tang and acidity of sushi rice so this is how I prepare my onigiri or musubi.
Once the rice is done cooking, place the hot rice in a mixing bowl or container. Sushi bars sometimes use plastic or bamboo mixing containers for sushi rice.
Pour the seasoned rice vinegar over a rice paddle to evenly disperse.
Gently cut the rice to break up any clumps and fold together with the vinegar. Turn the rice over a few times and repeat the process of breaking up any clumps.
Spread the rice out flat and let it cool for 8 minutes. While the rice is still warm, cover with a damp cloth.
Now Onigiri Molds come in different sizes from small kid sized to extra large. Depending on what size mold that you have will dictate how many rice balls you can make. I actually have three different sizes. I prefer the nice solid plastic molds, but the cheaper ones work almost as well.
Start by mixing all of the ingredients with the rice till well combined.
Very lightly wet the mold with water. This is to prevent the rice from sticking.
Scoop enough rice to fill the mold halfway. Lightly press in the center and put one Ume plum in the indentation.
Scoop enough rice to fill the mold and press together. Pop the onigiri out using the tiny lever on the bottom of the mold. You can eat as is or wrap it in nori.
Take the half strips of nori and cut them in half. Use these to hold the onigiri as you are eating them. Rice tends to be sticky so the nori acts as an edible napkin.