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favorite onigiri filling ideas?

buying lunch at school is way too expensive so I have started making onigiri for lunch. Its cheap easy and extremely filling (2 for lunch). Seeing as how I don't like to put my rice in the fridge overnight, I leave my onigiri out all night in its mold so it doesn't dry out as much.

do you have any good filling ideas that don't need constant refridgeration? I'm not that concerned with food safety - for example I'll leave out pizza at room temp over night, but I will not do this with raw meat.

so far I have made miso stuffed and bonito soaked in shoyu. does anyone have a good recipe for spicy tuna?

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  1. I like onigiri filled with salted salmon and with seasoned seaweed (sesame oil seasoning). I buy mine, so I don't have recipes. I think that probably both of these things would be okay left out. The salmon is a bit iffy, but if there's lots of salt maybe it's okay? I leave it out all day, but overnight plus half a day might be a bit much...

    1. tuna with mayonnaise & cayenne or tabasco to taste.

      1. japanese picked cucumber works great too as a vege thing. Very common in japan. Have you tried NATTO -fermented soy beans? It's an acquired taste. I like it mixed w/a little sweet mirin.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Kitchen Queen

          yep I love natto. I was thinking about making a natto, kimchi, bacon filling since I love this combination by itself so much.

        2. Isn't spicy tuna made with mayo? My mom has made onigiri with tuna and mayo and left them out during the day and they're okay, but I don't know about overnight. For long trips, she would mix canned tuna with equal parts shoyu and sugar and use that for a filling. My favorite was always the soft ume.

          And, while it's a totally different shape, I've taken spam musubi (or spam and egg) on hiking trips and it travels (and holds up) very nicely.

          1. I've never made onigiri - is it just plain rice, or sushi rice?

            I've bought onigiri with umeboshi inside - love that - or kampyo. I could see you putting avocado inside....

            8 Replies
            1. re: piccola

              I just wet my hands, shake a little salt on them and form into a triangle. I like to put umeboshi inside but have put cocktail weiners, Spam, tsukudani (wet nori in a bottle) furikake, takuan and chopped up kim chee inside for variety.

              1. re: mochi mochi

                where does the nori fit in? do you just wrap a small sheet around the ball afterwards?

                1. re: piccola

                  Yes, but I make my onigiri triangular, so I just use a rectangle and "serape" it around the sides. You can just fold it in half between the points so it is half way up the front and halfway up the back. Like mentioned before, they make this nori that is covered with cellophane that you make your onigiri in to keep the nori crispy. Fortunately for me I like it soggy. If interested, I can take a picture of it and post.

                  1. re: mochi mochi

                    please. that would be really helpful.

                        1. re: mochi mochi

                          Thanks! Where do you buy that? Is it pretty standard Japanese grocery store stock?

                          1. re: piccola

                            I am in Gardena/Torrance California so yes, every Asian market should carry it.

              2. I love it with umeboshi. I've done it with takuan. Kamaboko with wasabi. But to me ume is king!

                1. Plain steamed rice. Wet your hands, sprinkle a bit of salt on your hands, and form the rice balls with warm rice.

                  1. This may be heresy (or perhaps you could call it "fusion"), but I have made them with Taiwanese pork sung or fish sung mixed in the rice. Otherwise I usually use the furikake packets with seaweed, dried salmon, sesame seeds, etc. that are available at Japanese markets. I remember the ingenious packaging in Japan that keeps the nori dry - the onigiri are wrapped in plastic, with an inner strip of plastic that can be pulled out from between the rice and nori right before eating. I find it's easier to wrap the rice balls in saran wrap and then bring cut sheets of nori separately in a ziploc though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: 2m8ohed

                      fusion is good. I have made mine with korean seaweed (roasted with sesame oil and salt) and kimchi in the middle before.

                      yeah for lunch I pack my nori seperate so it doesn't get soggy. somep eople like it like that, but I like my nori crunchy and not soggy.

                      1. as great as the natto+kimchi combination is in general, i have my doubts about it in onigiri (doesn't the kimchi release too much moisture, so it falls apart?). Maybe you could add some gochu garu, though, for a similar effect? Or maybe chonggakmu (dried radish) kimchi?

                        My personal strategy is to find combinations of a diced up salty filling and then a simple furikake-type seasoning to mix throughout the rice-- e.g., umeboshi filling with shiso mixed into the rice. or myeolchi bokkeum as filling, with finely chopped gaennip mixed in. or pickle filling (takuan, or ume-flavored pickled turnips or eggplant) with ao-nori flakes mixed in. mentaiko/mayo filling doesn't do that well sitting out, but you can cook the mentaiko with a tiny bit of cooking sake until it's dry and use for sprinkle (maybe nice with a squid filling?)
                        or in a more fusion line, something like chinese pickled vegetables + corn filling with sesame mixed into the rice. or green onion + pork fu filling?

                        if only there was some home-made way to replicate the amazing packaging :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: another_adam

                          try cooked kimchi: it is much drier and more flavorful for stuff like that

                          you just panfry kimchi with some brown sugar, fish sauce, etc, until the moisture evaporates and you get perfectly packable concentrated flavor

                        2. I like takuan, pickled cucumber, sesame sea bean salad, omelet, shredded curry spiced carrot, asian chicken salad, umeboshi, a nicely roasted red pepper gets some of the silky texture of raw tuna... I've made that seasoned like spicy tuna before and it was nice...

                          1. Good idea!
                            Kim chee would be great in it!

                            1. I have used chonggak kimchi (I chop it up ) and have used the bossam kimchi ...oysters and raddish. I squeeze out the excess moisture and it's fine..it doesn't make the rice fall apart when I bite into it.

                              I bet natto on the outside of an onigiri would be great grilled - yaki onigiri.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bitsubeats

                                The rec of cooking the kimchi reminds me that in fact I have successfully made kimchi-flavored onigiri, in some fashion: sometimes when I have extra kimchi bokkeumbap at night (I know... leftovers of leftovers... :) ) I form into rice ball shape for lunch, and it works great.

                                For extra speed, there's also prepackaged kimchi-flavored natto--it's just natto with japanese "kimuchi base" added". I wouldn't exactly recommend it, but it might be worth a try. (I buy it sometimes for a change of pace in the lunchbox, but I can't really say it's all that great). It's not as slimy, though, so it might actually be useful for a filling.

                                This reminds me of another one I like: miso-nut filling! saute peanuts, maybe with a little ginger, for a minute, then turn off heat and add miso, sugar, mirin (about 5:2:1??). For small rice ball, I chop up peanuts a little, or use pine nuts.

                                And, I forgot to mention *another* favorite of mine (really unraditional): there are lots of great south indian salty/spicy pickles, like tamarind pickle or green mango pickle. a little dollop of one of those makes for super-easy prep. (a little bit goes a long way!)

                              2. I make my own spicy tuna. Very Simple. I buy Wasabi mayonnaise and mix it with the tuna as in any tuna salad. Simple, quick, and easy; just like an onigiri.

                                1. Furikake or ochazuke mix. Any small salty/shoyu-ey piece of meat (chicken, pork, hot dog, spam, etc) or fish. Kombu.

                                  1. If you can tolerate umeboshi, putting one in the rice acts as a preservative, so you can leave it out for longer periods. I like to make takikomi gohan (rice with things cooked into it-- e.g. konyaku, gobo, age, hijiki, mushrooms, chicken if you do meat, etc. etc.) and turn that into onigiri. If you stick a small bit of umeboshi in it, the rice will keep till lunch, too. Can you freeze a water bottle and keep that close to your onigiri? You don't want it cold, as that hardens the rice, but if you're concerned about some of the fish fillings, that would be a way to get around it. (Assuming you're still bringing onigiri to lunch. I just noticed that you posted this back in Feb.)

                                    1. My husband and I have gotten very into onigiri for lunch, and now we've got my 7 year old hooked as well. I am a sucker for anything with umezuke (pitted, sliced) and love tuna and umezuke.

                                      My daughter doesn't like the flavor of umezuke but loves ham and pickled ginger, and ham and sliced cornichon pickles. We do pack them with ice packs, but we use the nori sheets that are packaged with the plastic, so they don't get soggy before lunch (we buy them on Amazon). I'm excited to try some of these other ideas! Would love to hear more, especially ideas that would appeal for my 7 year old.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                        My kids like it with tuna and mayo or chopped ham and mayo inside. I've also done leftover shredded chicken too. They like them in their lunches for school.