rice balls two ways.jpg

Adorable, portable, and with the right fillings, a real treat to pull out when you need a pick-me-up, onigiri are easy to love. And with the plastic wrap method, easy to shape. Sweet or savory, white rice or brown, make sure you take the extra minute to toast the sesame seeds. It takes very little effort, and because they're the only seasoning the rice gets (aside from the filling, of course), their beautifully nutty flavor really shines. 

Note that not all brown rice will work for rice balls, but we used the short grain variety (not labeled as sushi rice) available in the bulk section of Three Rivers co-op with great results. 

And, finally, this week's post is arriving a bit early, but we'll return to our normal schedule next week. 

Stuffed Rice Balls (Onigiri)

Print the recipes 

yields 11 rice balls 

2 cups uncooked sushi rice, white or brown [see note on rice, above]

2 TBSP sesame seeds

For the filling: 

1 batch Dead Simple Chunky Chia Fig Jam, recipe follows


3/4 cup Spiced Pickled Kale, recipe follows

Bring 4 cups (1 quart) of water to boil. Add rice, cover, bring back to a boil, and reduce heat to low. Let cook 25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed all the water.

While the rice cooks, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant in a dry skillet. Set aside and let cool. When the rice is cooked, transfer it to a clean work surface, spreading it out, and allow to cool for a few minutes. 

Line a small bowl with a piece of plastic wrap. Place 1/2 cup rice into the bowl, make a well in the center, and add 1 generous tsp of fig jam or 1 TBSP of pickled greens to it. Pull the sides of the plastic wrap up and twist tightly at the top, keeping the plastic very close to the rice and being careful not to trap air (which will make your plastic likely to tear while you shape). Press and shape with your hands, remove from the plastic and sprinkle both sides with sesame seeds. Continue with remaining rice and filling.

fig jam.jpg

Spreadable figs! 

Dead Simple Chunky Chia Fig Jam

6 large dried Turkish figs

1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

pinch salt

1 tsp chia seeds

Chop the figs into a small 1/4-inch dice. Gently simmer the figs, apple juice, and salt until the figs are very tender, 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, process the chia seeds to a powder in a coffee grinder. (Chia seeds will thicken the jam in their whole form, but will remain crunchy. Here, you really want the fig seeds to be the only seeds under tooth, so it's best to powder the chia.) 

When the figs are soft and have begun to break down, remove them from heat, stir in the chia powder and let thicken for at least 20 minutes before using. Transfer to the fridge for longer storage. 

pickled greens.jpg

We're in love with this stuff. Nice in the rice balls, for sure, but there aren't many foods this won't improve. Our current favorite, totally delicious, wonderfully instant sandwich: pickled kale, Tomato Head hummus, and plain Twin Oaks tofu (we don't even bother to press it for this) on wheat. Grill and devour. The following recipe makes enough for 1 quart jar, which lasts only a week or two in our kitchen. Luckily, this recipe is simple to assemble, so a new batch is never far away.  (While we're waiting for the new kale, we happily munch on the pickled onion, dulse, and jalapeno from the bottom of the previous jar.)

Spiced Pickled Kale

adapted from Canning for a New Generation via The Perfect Pastry 

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 TBSP water

1 1/2 tsp fine sea (or kosher) salt

2 tsp natural cane sugar

2 bunches fresh lacinato kale (about 20 oz total weight), stemmed and cut into scant 1/2-inch ribbons

1 TBSP brown mustard seed

1 tsp whole allspice berries

1 tsp green cardamom pods, lightly crushed

1 large jalapeno (about 1 oz total weight), thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 small onion (2-3 ounces' worth), thinly sliced

1/2 cup (scant 1/2 oz) dulse, chopped

In a small pot, bring the vinegars, water, salt, and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. (Do this even if you're not canning for long-term storage--it mellows the vinegar.)

Meanwhile, in a quart jar, layer the onion, garlic, jalapeno, dulse, cardamom, allspice, and mustard seeds.  Stuff the greens on top (you'll really have to do some cramming, but they'll shrink after you pour the hot vinegar in). When the vinegar is ready, pour it into the jar. Press down the greens as necessary to submerge and put on the lid. Let cool at room temperature overnight, then transfer to the fridge.