Yesterday, I went to a party where the theme was black & white – black and/or white attire, black and/or white foods, you get the idea. This is actually a little harder foodwise to accomplish, because there aren’t many foods that are naturally pure white or naturally black (even black beans end up kind of browny-purply if you try to puree them into a dip).
Conveniently enough though, rice is nice and white, and nori is a lovely shiny black. AND, I love rice and nori, so the decision pretty much made itself.
I didn’t veer too far away from the classic methods, because I have found that rice is pretty finicky as to how it’s prepared, and honestly, why mess with a good thing? So what I’m putting here is pretty much what you’ll find anywhere if you do a search for “onigiri”
Sushi Rice (Don’t even think of doing this if you don’t have sushi rice. Trust me.)
A lot of water.
Nori (about 2 sheets, cut into strips)
1 large ripe avocado, diced and tossed with salt and a bit of lime juice
Measure out 2 cups of rice into a good-sized bowl. Rinse thoroughly with cool water several times until the water runs mostly clear.
Drain and let sit for about 10 minutes. (Traditionalists want you to let it sit for up to 30 minutes to absorb all the water that will still stick to the grains, but I’ve found that the rinsing is far more important than the sitting)
Pour your wet rice into a goodsized stockpot. Add 2 1/2 cups of cool water. (by the way, the standard ratio for sushi rice is 1 part rice, 1 1/4 parts water.)
Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until it looks dry and done. DON’T. STIR. THE. RICE. SERIOUSLY.
After 20 minutes, remove from heat. Keep cover on and let sit for about 10 more minutes to finish absorbing all the liquid and good-ness.
Meanwhile you can be dicing your avocado and cutting up your nori. I just use regular scissors for the nori, and i just make little strips, 2 inches long by 3/4 to 1 inch wide.
After your 10 minute rest period, dump the rice into a large mixing bowl. At this point it’s just rice, but you can turn it into real sushi rice by folding in some rice wine vinegar (and optionally, a pinch or two of granulated sugar).
Set yourself up a hand-rinsing bowl with some salted water. This is pretty much the only flavoring your rice is going to get, so feel free to get generous with your salt.
This is where it gets a bit hairy: The rice is best to work with when it’s nice and fresh, but it’s also REALLY HOT. Your options are to work quickly and try not to burn yourself (that’s what I did) or use a “musubi” or “onigiri” mold, or to line a small bowl or teacup with plastic and fake it. There’s instructions online for the “faking it” method, but I just went with playing hot-potato and working really quickly.
So. Okay. Get your hands wet in your salty water and shake as much off as you possibly can. You want moist hands so the rice won’t stick to you, but if your hands are actually *wet* your rice will won’t stick to itself. Get yourself a scoop of rice (somewhere around 1/2 to 3/4 cup, I think) and compress it into a ball in the palm of your hands. Poke a hole in the center of the ball with your thumb, and fill it with your diced avocado. Close up the hole with your hands and squeeze the ball so it’s a uniform shape (round, square, triangle, it’s all good). Wrap a piece of nori around one side. It won’t wrap all around, don’t worry. It’s more for aesthetics than holding anything together.
Lather, rinse, repeat until all your rice is used up. I got 16 onigiri out of my batch. If not serving immediately, cover TIGHTLY and DO. NOT. REFRIGERATE.
You can actually fill your onigiri with whatever you like – next time I’m going to fill mine with finely diced SPAM. (Mmmm, spam musubi. Takes me right back to Hawai’i!) You could also do like… BBQ Pork, tuna salad, salmon, whatever. Just make sure that whatever you use isn’t too wet, otherwise your onigiri will fall apart.