Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh, Rice

I think, volume-wise, I eat more white rice than any other food.  I love basmati, arborio, glutinous, calasparra, jasmine, vialone nano, and so on and so forth.  I enjoy brown rice as well, but would probably loose my cool if I could no longer have each and every variety of white rice.

If you follow the rice train of thought, it would make sense that I really enjoy Asian food as well.  Europe uses a fair amount of rice, but not like many of the Asian cultures.  I realize that saying "I like Asian food" is kind of a big blanket, but I really don't discriminate.  I have a special place in my heart for every cuisine from Vietnamese to Burmese to Japanese.

Recently, I learned from a colleague how to make onigiri.
Not that it's super complicated, but in spite of my love of rice I hadn't come across them before.  Onigiri are simple hand made rice balls with various fillings inside or with garnishes folded into the rice.

To start, cook off some Japanese style medium grain white or brown rice (a good introductory rice for this would be Niko Niko Calrose).  While the rice is still warm, dip your hands in lightly salted water (or cheat like me and buy a $4 mold from the Japanese market, which you would brush with the saltwater).  Form the rice into balls or triangles, placing a dab of some pungent flavoring in the center.

Some typical fillings are umeboshi, kombu relish, bonito flakes or salted salmon.  Really, you could use anything intensely salty or sour to provide a counterpart to the rice.  And alternatively, you could fold in something like cooked salmon, green onions, or sesame seeds into the rice before shaping.

You can serve these immediately after shaping, or chill them for a bit.  At any rate, partially wrap each onigiri with a piece of nori right before serving.  It provides some extra flavor and a nifty handle.  You can put out some soy sauce, pickled ginger, or wasabi to accompany the onigiri if you must have something, but I like them plain.


  1. It looks awesome!!
    Chef Jasmine, can you tell me where I can find Calasparra Rice in the Tacoma/Gig Harbor area? Looking to conquer Paella.
    Thanks for your help.

  2. Re: Calasparra rice

    I've seen it at Metropolitan Market on Proctor (also keep an eye out for Bomba rice- it's good too). They may have it at Harbor Greens here in town, but I haven't looked specifically. If all else fails, they do carry it on and at The Spanish Table (online and in Seattle). Good luck!