spicy smoked salmon onigiri / rice balls

October  4, 2022
1 Ratings
  • Makes 7 ~ 8 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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jeremy Black
    Jeremy Black
  • ktchnninja
  • savorthis
  • Shannon

8 Reviews

Jeremy B. January 27, 2020
I made this last night, and i think we messed up the mold part. We used a 1 cup measuring cup and made HUGE salmon cakes. what mold did you use?
Shannon February 25, 2015
These look delicious. About how long will they last in the fridge? Thanks!
Mandy @. February 26, 2015
Shannon, I will not make the entire rice ball then store in the fridge, because the rice will get hard and dried up. You can make the filling up to two days ahead and keep in the fridge, then put it together the day it's served.
ktchnninja July 5, 2013
These look beautiful! I want to make these this weekend! Am I misreading the ingredients? There is just one kind of salmon? I am confused by step 3, mixing the two types.
Mandy @. July 5, 2013
Ktchnninja, I'm so sorry! I just realized I left out the smoked salmon in the ingredient list!!! I have put that in just now... stupid me.
ktchnninja July 7, 2013
thanks for the clarification, Mandy! sounds like a great combo :)
savorthis June 17, 2013
This is the kind of thing I'd want to make right now-but don't have time for-but probably would anyway while my household fell apart around me. Yum!
Mandy @. June 18, 2013
Savorthis, if you omit the toasting part of it, this is actually quick to make. Switch the salted salmon with good-quality canned salmon and season with more sea salt!