spicy smoked salmon onigiri / rice balls

Author Notes

The ultimate Japanese portable snacks. Such a simple combination of cold Japanese rice, nori / seaweed and a little filling of salty spicy smoked salmon can be unbelievably delicious. The toasted crunch adds a crispy texture and smokiness. —Mandy @ Lady and pups

  • Makes 7 ~ 8 rice balls
  • Rice and seaweed
  • 3 cups Japanese sushi rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons sushi vinegar (optional)
  • 3 4 sheets of nori / seaweed sheets
  • Spicy smoked salmon filling
  • 180 grams of thin salmon steak/fillet
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin / Japanese sweet rice wine
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 75 grams of smoked salmon, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon siracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
In This Recipe
  1. Rinse the rice through a sieve until the water runs clear. Preferably with a rice cooker, add the rice and water and cook according to instructions. Once the rice is cooked, add the sushi vinegar (most rice balls aren't flavored with sushi vinegar so this is optional) and fluff the rice with a wooden spatula until cooled down to room temperature. Set aside
  2. Marinate the raw salmon with mirin and sea salt for at least 2 hours in the fridge. The salmon should be very salty, almost cured. Rinse off the salt and place the salmon on a rack over a baking sheet. Preheat the broiler on high, then bake on the upper-rack in the oven until browned. Flip the salmon over and brown the other side as well, make sure the center is cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool a little bit. Shred the salmon meat and discard the skin and bones. You should have approx 160 gram of meat in total.
  3. Mix shredded salty salmon with diced smoked salmon, mayonnaise, siracha sauce, lime juice and chili flakes. Set aside.
  4. To work with rice, you have to wet your hands and any utensils you are using with water to prevent sticking. Use a 2 1/2" round cookie-mold, fill the bottom with a layer of rice and pack it relatively tight, and a dollop of salmon filling (approx 1 tbsp) in the middle, then top it off with another layer of rice. Again, press it down with a spoon to make sure it's tightly packed. Repeat with the rest of the rice and fillings.
  5. A lot of onigiri/rice balls aren't toasted but I find the crunchy texture and smokiness is worth it if you want to go the extra miles. Lightly oil a flat grilling top and heat it up on medium-high heat. Brown both sides of the rice balls. Each sides will take a few min. Let them cool slightly on a cooling rack. Then wrap each with a wide strip of nori around it. This can be eaten hot or cold.

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