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I ate my first rice ball (onigiri) in college, when my girlfriend Ayako whipped out two from her backpack and offered me half her lunch.  I loved the simplicity of it.  After one taste, I recreated it from memory, or so I had thought.  I realized I packed mine too dense when I tried another rice ball at Oms/b.

A great rice ball holds together just enough to eat with ease, yet retains the characteristics of soft individual morsels of rice. At the simplest form, rice ball requires only salt, but having a well stocked spice rack, I put my seasoning to use.  With the realization that I was not limited to salt and furikake, I went crazy with my shakers.

I use the same seasoned rice to make some sushi – get some variations in my lunch while using the same ingredients. Sushi post to come.  Rice ball makes a convenient, no fuss lunch.

On Mixing Rice:
There is a technique to working with the rice.  Spread it out.  Don’t mash.  Use folding or cutting technique.

On Molding:
I prefer to use my hands over using a mold to shape the onigiri. Hands can feel even pressure, molds squashes. I enjoy the sensory experience of cooking. In addition, I live in NYC – I have no extra space for gadgets.

Tip:  Use plastic wrap to do the molding or plastic storage bag. I use a bigger piece of plastic wrap for molding, and I wrap the finished rice ball in a smaller piece of wrap (just enough to cover all the surface area). Waste not (or at least a little less).

On Stuffing:
Rice balls can be plain or it can be filled with tuna salad, chopped kimchi mixed with hot pepper, paste, dried Chinese shredded pork, pickled veggies or pickled plums. The options are endless. My default filling is Asian tuna salad.

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