Salmon and Black Sesame Onigri

When my daughter was little one of her favorite games was “patty cake”. I remember sitting her on my lap and we “rolled it, pat it, and marked it with a C” many, many times. That simple little nursery song was all I could think of as I stood over my bowl of onigri mix. I always struggle coming up with creative lunches. Breakfast is always something fast and on the go. Dinner is something creative and a dish to unwind to. But lunch? That is a thing of mystery. As I was browsing cute bento box ideas I stumbled across this recipe for Salmon and Black Sesame Onigri from The Kitchn.

Long has Japanese cuisine been a great go-to for healthy food, and these rice balls are no exception. In my mind I thought, “pan sear a piece of salmon? Not too hard. Mix with fresh jasmine rice– easy. Roll into a ball? Okay, how hard could that be?”.

There I stood with a bowl of delicious smelling mix ready to “wrap and roll” so to speak. ๐Ÿ™‚ My little one was peering at me excitedly as I dipped my hands in water (as instructed) and began rolling. The rice crumbled and stuck to my hands everywhere! Frustrated I washed my hands and tried again, and again it ended in absolute failure. “Why don’t you try an ice cream scoop mom?” my daughter suggested. And so I did.

Now these onigri aren’t the most pretty looking, but hey, a noob’s gotta do, what a noob’s gotta do, right? ๐Ÿ˜€ Have a wonderful day everyone!

Japanese Onigri (rice balls)
Japanese Onigri (rice balls)

Salmon and Black Sesame Onigri Recipe

Courtesy of:ย The Kitchn

Serves 2; makes 4 rice ball

4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon
3 cups cooked short-grain rice, hot
2 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt or less, if needed
1 sheet toasted nori, cut in 4 strips


Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Lay the salmon slices in the pan and cook until opaque and lightly browned, 15 to 30 seconds per side. Flake fish with a fork and mix with the rice and sesame seeds. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed.

Place a bowl of water nearby and use it moisten your hands frequently while forming the onigiri, so the rice doesn’t stick to them. Place one quarter of the rice mixture (about 3/4 cup) in your hands and squeeze together firmly. Rotate and squeeze until it forms a circular cake that holds together securely. Wrap a strip of nori around the middle. Repeat with remaining rice mixture.

Serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap to eat later. Most people recommend not refrigerating onigiri because it ruins the texture of the rice, but I find a 30-second warming in the microwave revives a refrigerated onigiri just fine.


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