Grilled rice balls, also known as “yaki onigiri,” are a popular Japanese snack or side dish made by grilling or toasting rice balls until they develop a crispy outer layer. Here’s how you can make grilled rice balls at home:
- Cooked Japanese short-grain rice (sushi rice)
- Nori seaweed sheets, cut into thin strips (optional)
- Toppings or fillings of your choice (e.g., umeboshi plum, grilled fish, bonito flakes, etc.)
- Cooking oil or butter for grilling
Prepare the Rice: Start with freshly cooked sushi rice. You can season the rice with a bit of salt to taste.
Shape the Rice Balls: Wet your hands with water to prevent the rice from sticking, and then take a small handful of rice and form it into a compact triangle or ball shape. You can also add a filling like an umeboshi plum or another desired ingredient in the center of the rice ball.
Wrap with Nori (Optional): If using nori seaweed, wrap a strip of nori around the rice ball, leaving some of the rice exposed.
Preheat the Grill or Skillet: Heat a grill or a skillet over medium heat. If using a skillet, add a bit of cooking oil or butter to prevent sticking.
Grill the Rice Balls: Place the rice balls on the grill or skillet. Grill each side for a few minutes until they develop a crispy, golden-brown crust. You can gently press them down with a spatula to ensure even grilling.
Serve: Once the rice balls are grilled to your liking, remove them from the heat.
Toppings and Variations: You can sprinkle additional salt or toppings like bonito flakes (katsuobushi) or furikake (Japanese seasoning) on top of the grilled rice balls for extra flavor.
Enjoy: Grilled rice balls are best enjoyed when they’re still warm and crispy on the outside. They make a wonderful snack or side dish.
- Experiment with different fillings or toppings to create a variety of flavors.
- If you’re grilling rice balls with a filling, make sure the filling is cooked or pre-cooked, as the grilling time might not be sufficient to cook raw ingredients thoroughly.
Grilled rice balls offer a delightful combination of textures, with a crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. They are versatile and customizable, making them a favorite among those who enjoy Japanese cuisine.