Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Camilla Dreams of Onigiri {Food'N'Flix}

Years ago I hosted a sushi-rolling party for my running group. We were 'on a roll' toward a half-marathon and I wanted to celebrate our successes. We were also celebrating a friend's birthday, so I made a Sushi Cake. Well, it was a cake that looked like sushi...

I considered doing something like that for this month's Food'N'Flix dinner. I had chosen Jiro Dreams of Sushi for the group, after all.

Food‘nFlixBut, honestly, after watching the movie twice I just felt completely deflated. I was not inspired to cook anything; all I wanted to do was hop on a plane and go to Sukiyabashi Jiro

I considered taking a trip to the local fish market for both ingredients and inspiration, but ours pales in comparison to the Tsukiji Market. Then I toyed with making a noodle dish like the one the apprentices were eating in the kitchen...something like ramen. No matter what I put on the table, nothing would look as delectable and fresh as his creations.

When I started watching the movie for a third time, I began thinking about what sushi really is and did a little bit of reading. 'Su' in Japanese means vinegar. 'Meshi' means rice. And when you combine the two you get su-meshi. Su-shi simply which means 'vinegar rice.' So, I settled on featuring rice in my post.

And that brought me to onigiri.

Onigiri are rice balls that are stuffed, mixed, or sprinkled on the outside with a plethora of tasty flavorings. And despite their 'ball' name, they are usually formed into ovals or triangles versus circles. Onigiri have a long history; over a thousand years ago people in Japan ate rice balls - before chopsticks became common. Samurai carried onigiri wrapped in bamboo leaves to fortify themselves during battle. In Japan today, onigiri are still the go-to food for eating on the run.

I decided to create an onigiri parade for this month's Food'N'Flix. Since this is all about the rice, I picked some nice, higher quality rices, including a green rice and Kuhuho Rose rice. I intended to use  forbidden black rice, but had enough rice without it. Cook the rice according to the package directions. The key to onigiri, I read, was freshly cooked, still hot rice. That's it.

I. Unadorned Onigiri
This one is all about the rice I used green rice and sprinkled it with pink Himalaya salt. This was Dylan's favorite! Unfortunately, I didn't get a good photo of it. Oh, well.

II. Nori-Wrapped Onigiri
For this I used the Kuhuho Rose rice, wrapped with a belt of nori (roasted seaweed). This was Riley's favorite of the evening.

III.Sprinkled Onigiri
Kuhuho Rose rice sprinkled with salmon furikake. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made of toasted sesame seeds, seaweed, and - in this case - dried, flaked salmon. This was my favorite of the bunch!

IV. Stuffed Onigiri
I stuffed this with some enoki mushrooms, cipollini onions, and seaweed that I had quickly cooked in a splash of sesame oil. This was Jake's favorite. I guess I needed to make all of these versions to satisfy the troops tonight.

V. Sweet Onigiri 
For dessert I stuffed some Kuhuho Rose rice with a sweet strawberry from my CSA box and sprinkled it with ground sugar and a dash of cinnamon.

As Jiro said: “In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food.  The quality of ingredients is important, but one must develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad.  Without good taste, you can’t make good food.  If your sense of taste is lower than that of the customers how will you impress them?” Sounds about right!

I read one woman's account of her grandmother making onigiri. She recounted that her grandmother's hands were always red and sore after making them. I guess I was doing it correctly because my hands hurt!

Hope you'll check back in a couple of days for the round-up of this month's recipes from the Food'n'Flixers.


  1. What a great post. I wish I would have taken this route instead is my street food debacle. :). I really need to watch the film again too. In fact, I love the message and am trying to figure out how to work it in to back to school and showing the staff. Great pck.

    1. Thank you! I was actually chuckling as I worked on the round-up. Not a single one of us made sushi! ;)

  2. Great choice on the rice exploration. I remember in the movie how they used only one kind only experts could cook. Like the stuffing ideas.

  3. Well, I think every single thing that you created looks amazing! I have to agree, though, that creating sushi after watching the movie is a bit like viewing trying to recreate a classic work of art. I feel like I NEED to visit Japan and Jiro's restaurant...because there's no way any other sushi could measure up! ha ha ha...but true.


  4. Onigiri is pretty popular here and I love your parade of it. From your descriptions, like you, I think I would have liked the furikake one best. I almost always sprinkle some on any plain rice I make. ;-)
    Great job with the variety of choices and for picking a great movie for this round. Even if none of us made actual sushi, we were all very inspired by it.


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