Sunday, June 21, 2015

How to Make Onigiri-Japanese Rice Balls

Onigiri - The Perfect Picnic Food

The summers in Tokyo are short and lasts just a couple of months and comes right after the long and dreary rainy season has departed. So it's no surprise that everyone starts to get a little excited, anxious to once again, go outdoors to enjoy the clear blue skies.
A picnic at the park is one of those pleasures that remind us that sometimes, the best things in life are the simplest things. It's really one of my favorite things to do especially during beautiful weather like today.
Often times, I'd put in maximum effort and perhaps go a bit overboard, by baking an entire pie to take along. But for an impromptu picnic like today, nothing beats the humble Onigiri, the traditional Japanese rice ball.

Onigiri Fact

Writings dating back from the 17th century reveal that many samurai stored rice balls wrapped in bamboo sheath as a quick lunch during war.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How To Make the Perfect Onigiri

The Onigiri is the original Japanese fast food. In other words, it's considered to be the ultimate portable take out food as well as the comfort food of many Japanese.
To make these handy balls of rice, simplicity is what it's all about. However this also demands that each ingredient be the highest quality to ensure the best taste.
Since rice is the main event, this is one instance where using good Japanese rice (medium-grain Calrose is a good alternative) is of utmost importance. Long-grain rice is usually too dry and doesn't have the stickiness, necessary in making Onigiri. You can also opt to watch the video tutorial to make it easier for you. Believe me, watching the video will make your life easier. 


4 cups cooked rice
2 sheets nori cut into 6 strips
6 tablespoons filling of choice
Cook the rice according to manufacturer's instructions. 

Make sure you have all ingredients ready. Here you see the rice, 
nori sheets, ume paste, salt and a small bowl of water.

Wet both hands slightly but not too much. You don't want your hands dripping. 
This is to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.

Dab a little bit of salt to both hands.

Make sure there is salt on both hands. A little goes a long way here so don't overdo it.

Scoop 1/6 of the rice mixture onto your hands.

Gently make a slight indentation with your thumb creating a well.

Add no more than 1 tablespoon of filling into the well. If you add too much, the rice ball 
will easily break apart.Cover the filling by pushing the surrounding rice into the center

With one hand flat and the moving hand in a V-shape, roll the rice ball around, pressing 
firmly with your hands so that the rice kernels stick to each other. This creates a 
sturdy Onigiri. Try to get it to resemble a triangular shape.

Place the rice ball onto the center of a nori strip.

Bring both sides of the nori strips up to meet the rice, where it should naturally stick.

 Zojirushi NS-TSC10 5-1/2-Cup (Uncooked) Micom Rice Cooker and Warmer, 1.0-Liter

If you are a fan of Japanese food, or if you simply like rice, a rice cooker is a must. I always recommend a bigger size that makes at least 5 cups as it's easier to feed a family this way.
This model includes automatic keep warm, an easy to clean interior as well as the ability to steam vegetables and bake cakes! 

Experiment and Have Fun

For these rice balls, I stuck with tradition and used Ume ( pickled plums ) paste. Feel free to experiment with fillings of your choice. Whatever you use, keep the amount to just a teaspoon or else the rice balls will collapse. Here are some suggestions.
Packing them up for picnicking is easy too. Just wrap them individually in plastic wrap, or place them neatly into lunch boxes. The great thing about Onigiri is that it goes well with everything!
  • Minced Japanese pickles
  • Tuna salad
  • Crab and avocado
  • Egg Omelette
  • Tempura
  • Chicken teriyaki

Tasty, nutrition and low in fat, the onigiri is Japan's comfort food. They can be molded into balls, triangles and other shapes. They are so tasty and convenient, you can take them out to picnics for everyone's enjoyment.
This collection of 50 recipes will guide you to making the perfect rice ball for picnics, lunch or a light afternoon snack.
Check out this cookbook full of great onigiri ideas. 

Hope you enjoyed this post on my favorite convenience food. Don't forget to check out the video tutorial on my YouTube channel and subscribe while you're there. It's free and you'll be notified of the latest videos. Thanks and hope you're all having an amazing day!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Sandwich

When I first arrived in Japan many many years ago, so many things were new to me. Sure I've lived in Japan until I was 5, but I hardly remember. And even though I've visited Tokyo often in the past, I had never actually stayed for long, and most people will tell you that your experience will be completely different when you decide to live there.

Once I settled in, I found myself going to the convenience store a lot. A lot lot. Like everyday! No kidding! And one of the things that would catch my attention was the Japanese Fruit Sandwich. The first time I saw that thing, I just couldn't believe my eyes. But they sure looked pretty and while trying to decide whether they were supposed to be lunch or dessert, I decided to grab one for myself.

Back at home, I marveled at how beautiful they looked. As I took my first bite in anticipation, I was immediately hit with the aroma of strawberries. Once I bit into the soft pillowy bread, I knew I was hooked!!!

So one day I decided to try and replicate that sandwich but with a twist. Instead of making it look like a sandwich, I opted for a more cake-like appearance. I decided that although it was a sandwich, they tasted more like dessert.

So this is my take on the Japanese Fruit Sandwich and you won't believe how easy they are to make. It literally takes just a few ingredients and if you're craving a cake with no cake mix around, this is a great alternative. It's light, fluffy and oh so yummy!

Watch the Video Tutorial Here!


3 Thinly-sliced bread (soft and fresh)
3/4 cup whipped cream
8 strawberries
1 tablespoon strawberry jam


Cut off the crusts of the bread. Slice strawberries. Reserve 2 whole strawberries for decoration. Spread jam on one side of a slice of bread to add moisture and flavor. Spread some whipped cream on top. Layer sliced strawberries. Add another layer of whipped cream on it and set aside.  Spread jam on another slice of bread. Place this on top of the first layer jam side down. Add jam to the other side. Add whipped cream and strawberry slices, followed by more cream. Spread jam on the last piece of bread and place it on top jam side down. Spread the remainder of cream on top and slice into two. Place whole strawberries on top to decorate.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Tokyo-Summer in the City-Behind the Scenes

Hello friends. I first want to apologize for the lack of delays. It's been a crazy two months for me here in Tokyo with so many things going on at the same time. But since there's always something going on and I don't think things will get any better anytime soon, I just need to find a way to prioritize and keep things in balance.

My mother just went back home to Hawaii after a two month visit and as always I thoroughly enjoyed her visit. However it does make it harder to work as usual because after all, she is a mother. Working at home, she was either telling me to take rests, sleep longer, wake up early, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, go take the dog for a walk, buy her rice balls or something. So yes I love her and I actually don't mind doing those things for her but I admit, it does make working more difficult.

Also making 6 videos every week did start taking its toll on my health. I got sick three times this year and in between, I felt lethargic, extreme fatigue and sometimes just plain moody. I also accepted a couple of new projects which I have no regret doing. But alas, there's never enough time is there?

I'm starting to sound like I'm trying to justify my lack of updates and that's probably what I'm doing. But I really wanted you guys to know that I'm still here and the updates will be coming more regularly.

Most recently we've been invited to participate in a Series called Summer in the City. As some of you may know, we are a part of the Tastemade Network and they choose a small handful of video creators to participate in their Spotlight Series. We were thrilled when we were asked to participate. Now let me tell you a little bit about what went on behind the scenes.


The story behind the video is how we would spend a day in Tokyo during the summer, highlighting some of our favorite places as well as some awesome food. That's pretty much what you get on this video and although it's not perfect at least in my eyes, it's the best we could do on a budget with no crew. We're pretty happy with it.

Now a day in Tokyo is what you see on camera. In reality though, it took four days of shooting and it was tough trying to fit those days in along with our other videos. Did I mention my mother being here as well? Lots of sweat, planning and editing along with a dose of arguing, tantrums and frustration went into this video. But hopefully it doesn't show.

The only thing we want viewers to see is the excitement and passion we have for Tokyo, the place we call home. Hopefully you'll feel as though you're hanging out with us throughout the video.

I'll let you be the judge. Check out our Summer in Tokyo Video and let us know what you think. Make sure to subscribe to our channel and while you're at it, you might as well subscribe to this blog. For those subscribed already, I have a surprise in store for you guys in the near future.

Thanks for reading and hope you're all having a great June! Cheers!