(Ochazuke with Yaki-Onigiri)

grilled umeboshi onigiri in a green tea broth

If you’ve never eaten plum onigiri in ochazuke this might seem like an odd grouping of flavours. And words. Some ingredients here are  mild, some punchy, salty, sweet but the overall result is a warm, soothing dish–in texture too. This recipe requires you to perhaps get one or two ingredients that you might not always have in your kitchen, though substitutions are welcome. But before we get to that let’s say hello to onigiri.

just-molded rice, ready for broth

Onigiri are balls of rice made with freshly cooked, starchy, sushi rice or other glutenous, short-grain rice, and they often hide a little treat in the middle. Tuna, seaweed and, as in the case here, omeboshi (pickled plum) paste, are common fillings, and onigiri are often triangular in shape. Here’s how to make them and here’s why mine are rectangular:

  • Cook your rice.
  • While the rice is hot, use wet or oiled hands to form your shape, or better yet, an onigiri  mold. Create an indent in which to add a tiny amount of filling, then enclose the filling with rice and work the shape while the rice is still hot, otherwise the grains will not stick to each other well or be easily mailable.
  • Hot rice is too hot to handle! Having no onigiri mold, I tortured myself for as long as it took to make two onigiri and they were less of a triangular shape and more shaped like the outline of searing pain. I couldn’t bear to work the shape long enough and when they cooled to just punishingly hot, the grains were no longer cooperating. Thus, I turned to the smallest little yet deep-enough mold I could find to accommodate a 1-cup scoop of rice, and that ended up being a rectangle plastic container. Yours might be a measuring cup, single-serving yogurt container or you may go out and get an onigiri mold. In any case, make sure to oil your mold so you can tap the packet of rice out easily.

If you are running out to get seaweed, just the right tea or that onigiri mold (take me with you) for this recipe, please do get omeboshi paste. I’ve gone on about its sharp, deep, briny flavour which I love, and combined with that subtle, warming tea, salty seaweed and those caramelized shallots and scallions… for me it’s the only way to go with this dish.

Ochazuke with Yaki-Onigiri

This story and the recipe that goes with it can be found in “SOUPS”, ISSUE 014 of Le Sauce Magazine! Get it here: http://www.lesauce.com/app