Japanese Onigiri


In Japan, onigiri (filled rice balls) are as common and versatile as the American sandwich. Though many recipes call for fish, this version is fully veg, using sweet potatoes and kabocha squash for a delectable twist. This recipe comes to us from Jenné of Sweet Potato Soul.

Makes 8 rice balls

  • 2 cups sticky rice, rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup Japanese yam, diced*
  • 1/2 cup kabocha squash, diced (you can eat the skin)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 8 strips of toasted nori
  • 2 tbsp. shiso leaf seasoning**

*an especially sweet variety with red or purple skin.
*found online or in Asian specialty stores. Substitute additional salt if unavailable.

Bring the rice, yam, and squash, salt, and water to a simmer.

Place a lid on the pot, keeping it slightly ajar, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the rice from the heat, and cover completely with the lid. Allow to steam for 10 minutes.

Stir the black sesame seeds into the rice, and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes longer.

Dampen your hands, scoop out 1 cup of rice, and shape it into your desired onigiri shape. You’ll have to work quickly because the rice is hot. Alternatively you can put the rice in a sheet of plastic wrap, tighten the wrap, and shape the rice.

After shaping each rice ball wrap it in a sheet of nori, and sprinkle some shiso leaf seasoning over it.

Complete with the remaining rice.

Onigiri will stay fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Allow to sit out at room temperature before eating left overs, because the rice is hard when it comes right out of the refrigerator.

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Nutrition Information

Japanese Onigiri

Servings per Recipe: 8

Amount per Serving

Calories:  86

Calories from Fat:  12

Total Fat:  1g

Saturated Fat:  0g

Cholesterol:  omg

Sodium:  414mg

Potassium:  172mg

Carbohydrates:  17g

Dietary Fiber:  2g

Protein:  3g

Sugars:  1g

Vitamin A:  7%

Vitamin C:  17%

Calcium:  7%

Iron:  4%

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