What to CookJapanese

Here's the Best Thing Our Office and Operations Manager Made This Weekend

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We get asked all the time: What do you cook at home? Here's some inspiration from Olivia Bloom, our Office and Operations Manager:

One of my favorite things to do in Brooklyn on the weekends is stuff my face at Smorgasburg, a food market with endless rows of stands selling everything from fried anchovies to tuna tartare tacos to Filipino spring rolls. A frequent stop of mine is at a booth that sells onigiri, Japanese rice balls, stuffed with a filling of your choice and wrapped in nori. For dinner on Sunday, I, feeling slightly ambitious, decided to try my hand at making my own onigiri, with mixed success.

Photo by Olivia Bloom

I had my sister make a batch of short-grain brown rice (I'm abysmal at rice-cooking) while I whipped up two different fillings. One was a tuna-mayo filling—two cans of wild-caught tuna, a modest glob of Hellman's, and a splash of sesame oil. For the second, I diced eggplant and shiitake mushrooms, sautéed them in olive oil with an aggressive amount of garlic, and then added 7 Pepper Spice for some heat.

The actual assembly of the onigiri was a comedy of errors, which I attribute to my lack of patience to let the rice cool properly. My technique was: Make semi-circular rice patty in my palm. Drop of a scoop of filling in the center of the patty. Smoosh more rice on top of that, and attempt to form into a ball. Wrap strip of nori around the rice ball. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place on plate. Watch it collapse. Make "womp womp" sound. But despite a very messy appearance, they still tasted like onigiri! To accompany my beautiful disaster, I roasted discs of sweet potato until puffy and golden, then glazed them in a wide, shallow pan with soy sauce and brown sugar.

Before my next attempt, I'll need your advice on how to make rice stickier!

Any rice-cooking advice for Olivia? Share your tips in the comments!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Grains, Seafood, Food52 Life