Sesame-Spinach Onigiri (Rice Balls) Recipe

Sesame-Spinach Onigiri (Rice Balls) Recipe
Staff Writer

Photo Modified: Flickr/hempdenarchy

My family was vegetarian from 1998 to 2004 while my cousin from India was living with us and attending college. Coincidentally, my mom was teaching a cooking class at the time she called “The Occasional Vegetarian.”  I used to go with her every week to prep beforehand, chopping piles of garlic and onions, and pretending to do homework while she taught, but secretly listening in. I wasn't surprised (or upset) to find these in my lunch box the day after the rice ball class.

Click here to see 8 Easy Vegetarian Dishes. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ pound spinach, washed
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked Japanese short-grain rice
  • 1 sheet nori (Japanese seaweed), cut into 2 inch-wide strips

Directions

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then sauté garlic for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add spinach and sauté until just cooked through, another 2-3 minutes. Toss with sesame seeds and set aside to cool.

Line a small bowl or ramekin with plastic wrap and loosely press a 1-inch layer of rice into the bottom. Add 2 tablespoons of spinach to the center, then add another layer of rice on top to cover.

Fold the sides of the plastic wrap in, then twist to make a sealed package. Flatten the rice ball between your hands. Mold it into a triangular shape, apply firm pressure with both hands, then remove plastic wrap.

Lightly press a nori strip around the bottom of the rice ball, sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired, and serve.

Sesame Shopping Tip

Staples of Asian cuisine such as ginger, daikon, rice vinegar, and spicy chile sauces like Sriracha add bright, fresh flavors without lots of fuss.

Sesame Cooking Tip

Sriracha has good heat but also has flavor - its mild sweetness comes from sun-ripened chile peppers as well as sugar and garlic.