food

5-ingredient stay-home recipe: Grilled Onigiri (Yaki Onigiri)

Last Updated: May 24, 2021

Written by Nicole Lam

One of the best things I love about Japan is their convenience stores. Talk about a treasure trove of goodies and treats. Well, if you’ve read my Tamago Sando recipe, you already know how much I love my Japanese convenience store finds. This time, we are going to make another favourite, onigiri—and grilled ones at that. You get a chewy and crispy top layer followed by a soft, fluffy interior—it’s utter bliss and so easy to make.

Plated Grilled Onigiri

So, here is how to make yaki onigiri and the best part, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

Ingredients

Flat lay of Grilled Onigiri ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked Japanese rice or short grain rice
  • 3 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp mentaiko (optional)
  • 1 tbsp konbu (seasoned Japanese seaweed) (optional)
  • 1 sheet of seaweed
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil or as needed

Tools

  • Heavy-bottom frying pan
  • Rice cooker
  • Pastry brush

Recipe preparation

Cooking time: 30 minutes (cooking the rice) +  10 minutes (assembly) + 10 to 15 minutes cooking
Feeds 2

  • Cook your rice as per usual and once the rice is cooked, set it aside to cool.
  • Once the rice is cool enough to handle, prepare a bowl of water and wet both your hands so that the rice doesn’t stick.
  • The portion of rice should make about six to eight rice balls, depending on how big you want them to be. Scoop about a palm-sized portion of the rice and gently shape it with your hands.
  • Cup the rice with one hand to form a rough ball and press the edges with your middle and index finger to form a triangle shape.
  • If you would like to fill the onigiri, when you scoop a portion of rice onto your hand, spread the rice and make a small indentation.
  • Then, mould the rice to cover the filling completely.
  • Repeat the process with the rest of your rice and fillings. Set your onigiris aside.
  • Pour the oil onto your frying pan or grill and set it to medium heat.
  • Grill your onigiris until they are crispy and golden brown on one side. This might take about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Then, lower the heat and brush the toasted sides with soya sauce.
  • Once you have brushed all sides of your onigiri soya sauce, remove from the heat and enjoy.

Recipe in pictures

Rice steaming in pot

Step 1: Cook your rice as per usual, and once the rice is cooked, set it aside to cool. Make sure to fluff with a fork before you set it to cool.

Step 2: Once the rice is cool enough to handle, prepare a bowl of water and wet both your hands so that the rice doesn’t stick.

Wooden spoon scooping rice

Step 3: The portion of rice should make about six to eight rice balls, depending on how big you want them to be. Scoop about a palm-sized portion of the rice and gently shape it with your hands.

Hand shaping onigiri

Step 4: Cup the rice with one hand to form a triangle shape. If you would like to fill the onigiri, when you scoop a portion of rice onto your hand, spread the rice and make a small indentation.

Hand holding onigiri with mentaiko

Here, I use mentaiko as my filling, but you can use salmon flakes or seasoned konbu. At this point, you can have your onigiri just like with a piece of seaweed wrapped around it.

Hand holding onigiri

Step 5: Then, mould the rice to cover the filling completely. Repeat the process with the rest of your rice and fillings. Set your onigiris aside.

Onigiri roasting on pan

Step 6: Pour the oil onto your frying pan or grill and set it to medium heat. Grill your onigiris until they are crispy and golden brown on one side. This might take about 5 to 7 minutes.

Onigri toasting on pan

Step 7: Then, lower the heat and brush the toasted sides with soya sauce. Once you have brushed all sides of your onigiri with soya sauce, remove from the heat and enjoy.

Plated Grilled Onigiri

Well, there you have it. The savoury crunch is irresistible and would be even better if you did this over a charcoal grill for a touch of that smoky aftertaste. It’s a simple recipe to make and so immensely flavourful. This moreish little snack is sure to impress and perhaps be the salve to soothe as we continue to dream of Japan.

Expected damage: S$3 – S$6 per portion

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