My Favorite Sandwich – Onigiri

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I can’t tell you how excited I am to be sharing my favorite sandwich recipe with you today. I came across these “on the go snacks” called onigiri in Japan last year when we climbed Mt Fuji. Our guide and translator, Luke, bought a few of these triangle shaped rice filled sandwiches at the 7 Eleven before our climb (yes they have 7 Eleven in Japan!). He stuffed about 5 of them into his bag to eat at various times during the hike. I was so curious to know what these little triangles of nori contained, so I had him translate the 10 different versions on the shelf. While some of them were certainly appetizing and delicious, like umeboshi (pickled plum), some were not and down right scary! Chopped up hot dogs? I guess it was 7 Eleven after all…

Sushi Sandwiches

I’ve taken the mystery out of these little creations. If filled with the right contents, they are so nutritious (yeah for sea vegetables and brown rice!) and are perfect to take to work or pack in your children’s lunch box. I think kids would love these, especially if they already love sushi.

Onigiri has become a staple in my house and I have a feeling they might become a staple in yours too. I really hope these go mainstream here in the US. It’s about time we had a quick sandwich that wasn’t filled with processed meat. What if Subway started carrying these? Could you even imagine?

To make these little beauties it doesn’t take much skill, but does require a triangle mold. I used a kit available online here …it comes with a triangle mold, detailed instructions and special nori wrappers that are made so the rice doesn’t touch the nori until you unwrap it. It’s brilliant how the wrappers keep the nori from getting soggy and also keeps them fresh.

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When you run out of wrappers (because you’ll want to make these every week like me!) you can get more nori refills online here.

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The type of rice you use is so important – you must choose a short grain japanese rice that will hold together nicely. I like Tru Roots Haiga Rice because it has the texture and taste of japanese white rice but is actually whole grain…it cooks in 15 mins! Amazing, right?

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I can’t wait to hear back from everyone who tries the recipe!

3.5 from 4 reviews
Food Babe’s Sushi Triangles (Onigiri)
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Haiga or Japanese short grain brown rice uncooked
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp japanese cooking wine or mirin
  • 1 tbsp coconut palm sugar or evaporated cane juice
  • 2 tbsp black toasted sesame seeds
  • Onigiri wrappers (+ mold for forming triangles)
  • Filling Option 1:
  • ½ cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 carrots diced small
  • ½ red pepper diced small
  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 large pickle diced small
  • Filling Option 2:
  • 1 sweet potato cooked and diced with skin removed
  • 3 scallions diced
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • Filling Option 3:
  • 1 cucumber diced
  • 1 avocado diced
  • hot sauce to taste or garlic mayo
  • Filling Option 4:
  • 1 cup cole slaw
  • Filling Option 5:
  • 1 cup kimchi
  • Filling Option 6:
  • ⅓ cup fig jam
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • 1 cup diced arugula
Instructions
  1. Rinse rice with filtered water, and cook to package instructions – note: Haiga rice only takes 15 mins to cook
  2. While rice is cooking, combine vinegar, mirin, sugar
  3. Stir vinegar mixture in cooked rice
  4. Add sesame seeds and fluff
  5. Once rice has cooled, place ¼ cup rice in mold on top of seaweed wrap, press, add fillings of your choice, and then another ¼ cup rice and press again tightly making a compact triangle
  6. Wrap according to Onigri wrap directions, following the numbers and seal with two stickers
Notes
***Please buy all organic ingredients if possible*** Lasts up to 3 days in fridge

 

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Thank you Luke for taking us up the mountain and for inspiring me to make onigiri back home….I can’t wait to do the “udon noddle” yoga pose with you on top of Mt. Fuji again one day :)

Sayonara!

Food Babe

P.S. If you know friends or family who could use a delicious and nutritious pre-packaged lunch to take to school or work, please share this post with them.

Yoga Udon Noddle Pose with Luke

P.S. If you’ve got other good combination ideas – please share with me and others!

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142 Responses to “My Favorite Sandwich – Onigiri”

  1. Joan rideout

    I would love to make these, but the link to amazon for the kit will not ship to my address. I am in Canada. Is there any other supplier that you are aware of that will ship to Canada?

    Reply
  2. Ted Sebern

    Food Babe,

    There was an older monk in a shrine near Mount Fuji. He told me quietly one afternoon, and I will repeat.
    “A wise man must climb Fujiyama once. Only a fool does it twice.

    Reply
    • Michael L. Moneymaker (to Ted Sebern)

      That is why I ended up climbing Fujiyama three times (late 1950s and early 1960s).

      Reply
  3. Mark

    Thank U for the Kraft and Subway articles. I shared this article with all my buddies as a great lunch or portable food idea. Keep up the wonderful, interesting and rewarding journalism.

    Reply
  4. Joseph Jackson

    Genki daska, Food Babe!
    Are you LIVING in Japan? And are you a strict vegetarian?
    I thank you for all the info about, and condemnation of, toxic chemical additives in food, but I just canNOT be Vegetarian! I tried once, and got what my doctor called “Nutrient starved.” He said I just HAVE to eat a more “nutrient dense diet,” and that the ONLY WAY to get there is to eat some MEAT. He recommended fish, fowl and lean GAME meats, instead of beef. He also said it is GENETIC, and because I have type O-negative BLOOD!

    Reply
    • Lauren (to Joseph Jackson)

      I understand that I can be difficult to cut out meat, I myself was a meat eater for 16 years but have decided not to eat meat anymore, although I do really like it!

      If you asked me to cut out every type of meat a few years back, I wouldn’t of done it even if you paid me I was a real meat eater!
      Yes, I do get times were I just slip and have the odd bit of meat but this getting is less and less.

      TAKE IT SLOWLY.

      Don’t cut it all out in one day. You’ll be craving like mad otherwise! Decide on one meat you want to leave out. When you feel ready, leave out another meat. Make sure your having loads of vegetable fruit and berries with every meal. I hope I’m not lecturing you, just sharing my experience.

      I didn’t cut everything out at once. Pork and seafood was the first to go and then very gradually I just stopped eating the rest. This has been over a year and a half though. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a very good appetite and live perfectly well on fresh juice (I highly recommend starting juicing, weather you continue to eat meat or not), vegan and vegetarian meals, nuts, fruit and veg etc.

      Since when did the type of blood determine what you should eat?! What were you eating to starve yourself so much?
      The link below may also help to answer your qestion:http://www.earthsave.org/health/bloodtyp.htm It is a little long, but well worth the read!

      Reply
      • Ryan (to Lauren)

        Unfortunately, blood type does have it’s role to play in how our body absorbs nutrients, and to the degree of requiring us to choose our foods more wisely as such. There are several books published on the matter.

      • Maggie (to Lauren)

        Nutritional deficits can, and often do, take a decade or more of eating a vegetarian diet to show up. If you choose this lifestyle, please educate yourself, especially about amino acids and minerals, and eat a very wide variety of foods to ensure you are getting all necessary nutrients

    • Erin (to Joseph Jackson)

      I’m going to support your doc in this. I know how to eat vegan, and could if I wanted to, but frankly, do better with a bit of meat. We all have our theories about food. Mine is simply to eat the stuff that makes you feel good. How do you know the difference between a craving and something your body really needs? Careful listening.

      You can do this one of two ways-
      1. Carefully noting how you feel after eating something. DO you feel refreshed and nourished an hour after eating, or do you feel heavy, sluggish, or like you “crashed”? Keep a food diary and pay attention. Also, cut out nonsense beverages, as they can confuse things. Just drink water for awhile.
      2. You can do a fast to reset your body and then gradually introduce foods again. My experience is that you will gravitate towards what your body needs, and a lot of the cravings for unhealthy stuff falls away. It will be absolutely necessary for you to be taking spirulina with your juices, or your body will NOT be happy. I am typically a high protein consumption type, and not well if I don’t, and I went through the juice fast just fine on this.

      One last thing- If you were malnourished as a vegetarian I’m going to suggest that you were not getting a wide enough variety of plants. Many plants are nutrient dense, and you have need to eat a good helping of them. Good if you have a large appetite. A strictly vegan diet is not for me, and may not be for you, but you won’t really know if you are doing a poor job in plannign your meals. Hire a holistic nutritionist to help you if you really want to give it an honest go. Then, if it doesn’t work for you, you know that it doesn’t work

      I don’t demonize any one type of diet. There are too many peoples enjoying long lives on extremely varied diets, and the idea that vegetarians don’t get heart disease has been debunked. Heck, even the Dalai Lama eats meat. My ancestors ate meat, the folks in Mongolia continue to live off it almost exclusively in the winter, switching to a nearly entirely vegan diet in the summer.

      Do what’s right for you, source your food wisely, and make peace with what you eat to nourish your body.

      Good luck!

      Reply
      • Erin (to Erin)

        Forgot to mention one thing- Whatever you do, stay away from processed foods. They negate any environmental benefit of a vegan diet, are costly to produce, and have a fraction of the nutrition of properly cooked, raw or made-at-home meals.

  5. Faith

    Onigiri aren’t sandwiches, they’re rice balls, but it’s always great to see someone discover how easy they are to make! These look great! :)

    Reply
  6. Ted Sebern

    Some of the best snacks are rice balls, especially those with nori, vegetables and beans, (I’m not a mochi freak). I guess it’s because I don’t care for sugar or salt.

    Bought them at the Azabu Market in Hiro, Tokyo, in the 1960′s and 70′s during a little tour in South east Asia. Kept them in the backpack. Munched them in the belly of an AC 130, enjoyed them.

    Ted Sebern

    Reply
  7. Dotty

    Food Babe, I like reading the info you put out. You are the latest addition in my continuing search for better health and good resources. Regarding giving up all meat – I watched a video of Kris Carr (“Crazy Sexy Cancer,” “Crazy Sexy Kitchen,” “Crazy Sexy Diet”) with her personal doctor who practices “integrative medicine.” He has helped her live ten years with incurable cancer. She’s amazingly vibrant and had to totally change her diet and way of living. (She documents this in her blog and books.) She’s a total vegan, and probably mostly eats raw foods. Her doctor (sorry I don’t recall his name) said that everyone’s needs are different, and he does a battery of testing to determine exactly what someone’s nutritional needs are, how they are fulfilling them. He said he was a vegetarian while in medical school years ago when it wasn’t so popular, but later, found that he wasn’t getting all the nutrients he needed. He added some meat back into his diet and makes sure the kind of meat he eats is raised with conscience, fed organically, etc. In his practice, he continues this way of working – individualized assessment and treatment. If someone is found to be nutritionally deficient and needs some meat in their diet, I support them. We’re all looking for best practices for ourselves and the planet. I’m a work in progress, as we all are.

    Reply
  8. Dotty

    See my post below.

    Reply
  9. Char

    After psyching myself up for about a year, I FINALLY tried making my own onigiri. They don’t look perfect but I can’t wait to try them for lunch today. Thank you for clueing me in on this idea.

    http://reallyeating.areavoices.com/2013/05/06/trying-a-new-lunch-item-japanese-rice-sandwich/

    Reply
  10. Felicia

    I’ve never tried these, but I did order the kit! I wonder if quinoa would work in this too?

    Reply
  11. Amy Wonderling

    Hi, I just found this site and am very interested. My son and I are very picky still while we are learning to eat healthy. We have eaten pretty much nothing but fast food and processed foods. In this recipe is there a way to try the seaweed wrap before you order the kit? Would I go to a restaurant that serves Japanese food? Also are the fillings versatile, were we can change them around to what we like? Say… Pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, maybe onions. Just throw in fresh healthy vegetable you like, with your taste?

    Reply
    • Susannah (to Amy Wonderling)

      You can buy Nori to wrap at most supermarkets now. Stay away from processed pickles .

      Reply
    • rynn (to Amy Wonderling)

      Most stores sell nori (seaweed).
      And for me, onigiri is the best with just plain white rice, and steamed salmon in the middle. Then you wrap it up with the seaweed. I just adore them! I can eat about 6-8, even though I know I shouldnt. They’re just amazing!!(:
      Although I’m not a fan of this vegetable recipes… I’m sure it’s great too! But you should definitely give the salmon onigiri a try!

      Reply
  12. Saesha

    Works great with quinoa! Not as great with califlower “rice” but not horrible. Maybe if you squeezed the califlower with a cheesecloth after steaming it; it would not be so wet? I’m having trouble with the wrapper thingy. It simple falls apart when you take the wrapper off. Tips?

    Reply
  13. Michelle Cattani

    There are Japanese markets by my house that make them fresh everyday. They are very popular and sell out quickly. They are so yummy!

    Reply
  14. Rick C.

    Your sandwich sounds like it would be delicious, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be eating anything that comes from Japan, especially sea vegetables without first testing it with a good rad detector. The Fukushima disaster is getting worse by the day, but you won’t here about in our mainstream media. A large portion of the Pacific ocean is now highly radioactive and anything coming from the pacific is likely to be radioactive now:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/a-fukushima-fishermans-tale-radioactive-water-from-the-daiichi-plant-is-flowing-into-the-ocean-at-a-rate-of-300-tons-a-day-8750780.html

    Reply
    • April (to Rick C.)

      I was JUST about to ask FoodBabe about this. I love nori and seafood but anything that comes from that area, I avoid like the plague. I wish we had another source for nori — Does anyone know?

      Reply
  15. Pablo

    So funny! Brilliant idea! :)

    Reply
  16. Andrea

    Thank you for this! I just made my first batch and they are SO good!

    Reply
  17. Soko

    Dont know why someone like you would encourage people to produce more wastes by using plastic wraps to make onigiri. A traditoinal way to make an onigiri does not require a plastic wrap. Please promote the traditional and non-waste producing way of making onigiris. The method you introduced is a wasteful and modern habit that was introduced in Japan over the last few decades, which does not fit the tradition and real value of Japanese culture. While it is the fact that modern Japanese culture aprreciated this wasteful method of making onigiris, it does not really fit the tradition and the virture of Japanese culture.

    Reply
    • Susannah (to Soko)

      Hello Soko, can you share the traditional way of making them, and how you keep them together and transfer them? Thanks

      Reply
    • rynn (to Soko)

      I also am not a fan of this type of nori either, and while the mold I assume would come in handy, I just don’t like the idea of them. Onigiri are love. You are supposed to mold them yourself and I love the way the nori gets soft. That’s how it’s supposed to be..not crunchy.

      Reply
  18. Tanya

    I just ordered one for my daughter’s lunches. She loves Japanese food and will be over the moon about these. I’m going to keep it a secret until she opens her bento at school. Thanks so much for the recipe and link!

    Reply
  19. Debby

    Oh, wow, individually wrapping each one in disposable plastic seems really wasteful! They do look tasty though. I might make a pile for lunches this week!

    Reply
  20. Lyle Nozawa

    I’ve been eating these all my life. Love it!

    Reply
  21. Kristen

    Just wanted to let you know that there is a
    Coca-Cola ad on this page!

    Reply
    • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Kristen)

      Thanks you for letting us know. We will get it off ASAP – those sneaky suckers slip in sometimes.

      Reply
  22. Robyn

    FoodBabe, I love your ideas, but really? All these sandwiches singularly wrapped in plastic? non-recyclable? I understand the convenience and the argument of non sogginess…but there has to be a better way!

    Reply
  23. Tracy

    I ordered the kit and have tried wrapping these a couple different times. They look OK until I try to unwrap them and then they completely fall apart. I have to eat them with a fork. Any tips, anyone?

    Reply
  24. Liz

    Help! I’ve tried 3 times to make these with the mold and kit and the entire thing just falls apart when I try to unwrap it. I drive around for work a lot and was SO looking forward to these as a fast, healthy meal on-the-go option! FoodBabe, would you please make a step-by-step video of how to properly wrap these?? I (and it seems I’m not alone here) cannot seem to get it. Thanks!

    Reply
  25. Darlene

    Hi food Babe tri roots haiga rice is now unavailable. Can you suggest another rice for this pls.

    Reply
  26. Nicole Ryan

    These look great. My only concern is the nori, for two reasons: (1) is nori seasoned with MSG? And (2) is nori safe after the nuclear power plant disaster? I would love to read a post about those details, because I know that nori is a great addition to my vegetarian diet due to its high iron content. Thanks!

    Reply
  27. Onigiri giddy

    Great filling ideas. Looking forward to trying them.

    I’ve never used a mold or a kit to make onigiri. You can shape them with your hands. They don’t have to be completely covered in nori either. If your rice balls are falling apart, maybe it would work better to fold the nori just at the bottom.

    As for the radiation, that’s a good point. I am pretty sure there are domestically produced nori brands. Just like there are California rice brands that are popular in Japanese cooking.

    Reply
  28. Marie

    I lived in Korea for 3 years and these were everywhere! We called them “triangle gimbap”. They were the best little snack/lunch. Now it takes such a huge effort for what I could have run to the store to get 5 minutes for $1. Oh how I miss these!

    Reply
  29. April

    What would you suggest to replace the seaweed wrapper? I’ve tried but just do not like seaweed. I’d love to try making something like these but without seaweed. Thanks!

    Reply
  30. Randy Kiriluk, MD

    Well, I do not see rice in any form as particularly healthful, since it is almost all carbohydrate and quickly converted to sugar beginning even before it hits the stomach. On the other hand, it is one of my favorite indulgences, and pretty much everything in these little buggers is way tasty and healthy. They are certainly better than the processed garbage at your local fast food joint. Do not overdo the rice, which is always a temptation for me. As an aside, I am a physician and IMHO Vani gives some pretty solid nutritional advise, especially with regard to several carcinogenic chemical preservatives packed into our fast foods

    Reply
  31. Theresa Ott

    OMG! I had these when I was visiting my son and his family in Japan ( son in Navy)
    I could not rember the name of this food. They are so very tasty! The kids would love to stop at Lawsons ( any one visiting Okinawa would know of Lawson’s) and pick up a few.

    Reply
  32. Courtney C.

    FoodBabe, I have seen some others ask but are you still eating Nori after the earthquake? I am worried about the radiation. Do you order yours from a company that harvests their Nori from somewhere other than Japan? I really, really want to try this but am really worried about the radiation. Thank you!!

    Reply
  33. Laura Onizuka

    I LOVE onigiri, my favorite food to take on a hike. Thanks for the great new recipes and for the rice suggestion!
    Question, how long do onigiri keep out of the fridge?

    Reply
  34. Kristen

    Oh my goodness, I could seriously cry right now! You are inspiring me to go back to being excited about eating more veggies! I had run out of ideas and lost my inspiration. I love the global flair to your food because I love drawing inspiration from the many cuisines of the world in my own kitchen!

    Reply

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