Tag Archives: nori

Rice Balls! Making Onigiri with Shinmai

2 Nov

Balls of good firmness with some of salt taste

Remind me the traditional times grains

Using time of new rice to eat fresh balls is enjoyment of fall season

Onigiri
Onigiri with furikake seasoning and a piece of nori

It’s the season of shinmai (new rice) and when rice is this fresh and delicious, the best way to eat it is the simplest way. Plain. With a little salt and wrapped in a piece of nori (seaweed). The amazing blog Just Hungry featured this article in the Japan Times, which gives a run-down on shinmai as well as a recipe for the delectable onigiri (rice ball). (For more on balls, click here for two of my fave.)

Happy forking with balls!

Balls!

13 Aug

Fits into hand with ease, pleasant shape of balls

Have you enjoyed balls, lately?

*****

What do you like to forking put in your mouth? How about some balls? Although they’re not something that comes to mind right away when I think of what to eat (most things I put in my mouth are longer than they are wide) I encourage you not to leave your balls out in the cold.

Let me introduce you to two of my favourite balls.

1. Octopus Balls – Takoyaki

A relative newbie to the Vancouver/Richmond night market scene (stalls have popped up over the past couple of years) takoyaki are balls of savoury dough, grilled on a special teppan of half-spheres. Batter, green onions and/or cabbage, and sometimes tenkasu (bits of fried tempura batter) and/or beni-shouga (red ginger) are poured onto the teppan, and a piece of octopus is plonked in the middle. Once mostly cooked, the half-moon is deftly turned in its place with a long skewer and fried into a spherical shape. Topped with a Worcestershire-based sauce (creatively named takoyaki sauce), Japanese mayonnaise, aonori (seaweed powder), and katsuobushi (shaved bonito flakes), this Osaka treat is a big hit, as indicated by the huge line-ups at the night market stalls.

Takoyaki

Takoyaki!

Not had the chance to put these balls in your mouth yet? Try eating octopus balls in the Vancouver area at:

  • Zipang (3710 Main Street, between 21st and 22nd Avenues)
  • Richmond Night Market (12631 Vulcan Way)
  • Bakudanyaki: Named for their incredible size (Bakudan = explosion, or bomb) these baseball sized “explosion balls” are so potent, you need only one. (7100 Elmbridge Way, just off of the Gilbert Road bridge on the south side of the river)

Be careful not to burn your mouth – these balls are hot!

2. Rice Balls – Onigiri

The ideal way to use up the last of your rice, and the easiest meal to take for tomorrow’s lunch, onigiri are the perfect way to satisfy your hunger at mealtime or as a snack. Available in abundance in convenience stores in Japan, I can’t imagine why this treat hasn’t caught on in 7-11s across the globe. Tasty, healthy, and available with a variety of fillings, I would argue that onigiri, Japan’s sandwich, outshines the bologna tossed between two slices of white bread that most North American children call “lunch”.

Onigiri

Onigiri - a versatile ball

How to Make Onigiri (Rice Balls)

  1. Cook Japanese rice, using only white rice or a mixture of white and brown rice. (Onigiri requires the rice to stick to itself, so be sure to mix in at least 40% white rice to get this to work! Also, make sure you use Japanese rice – other types aren’t sticky enough.)
  2. Allow the rice to cool at least a little bit. As delicious as they are, onigiri are not worth losing the skin from the palms of your hands. Once lukewarm or cool, you can sprinkle in your favourite furikake (literally “shake and sprinkle”) seasoning (available at most asian supermarkets) leftover bits of flaked salmon or other fish, leftover edamame beans (minus the pods), or gomashio (a mixture of sesame seeds and coarse salt). Plain rice is fine, too.
  3. Shape the balls. Wet your hands and sprinkle them with some salt before scooping about one rice-bowls worth of rice into one hand. In the centre, spoon in a small dollop of the filling of your choice, such as a piece of leftover salmon, a chunk of tuna, a piece of daikon radish pickle, soft nori (seaweed) paste or an umeboshi (pickled sour plum). Shape the rice as you wish (triangles are most popular, followed by flattened circles, but try your hand at hearts and stars if you dare!) and wrap with a piece of crispy ajitsuke nori (seasoned, roasted seaweed) as enjoyed in western Japan’s Kansai region or yaki nori (dried plain seaweed sheets – used when making sushi) as they prefer is in the eastern Kanto region.
Konbini Onigiri

So convenient, onigiri is a Japanese convenience store staple

Onigiri holder

Hate squashed balls? Try an onigiri-holder!

Onigiri mascot

Already an expert onigiri-maker? Don't let it go to your head

Wanna try an onigiri before making it on your own? T&T Supermarket (179 Keefer Place in Vancouver, 21500 Gordon Way in Richmond, and 15277 100 Avenue in Surrey) and Konbiniya  (1238 Robson Street in Vancouver) sell pre-made onigiri. Check out their ingenious packaging, which keeps the nori fresh and crispy until the moment you eat it.

Let’s enjoying the balls together for two times of fun when next forking time!

Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta!

22 Jul

Feeling “pop!” of salty, small balls in mouth is always delight

Especially with accompaniment of noodle

Mixes best with the creamy sauce to make milder flavour

Let’s enjoying mentaiko with each other!

Wahoo Mentaiko Pasta

Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

The Japanese often combine mentaiko (spiced Haddock roe) with Japanese mayonnaise, butter, or cream to subdue the strong flavour of the spiced haddock roe. Because of its strong flavour, a little goes a long way to spice up carbs like white rice, bread, and the below pasta recipe, one of the most popular wa-fu (Japanese style) pasta sauces.

Mentaiko, outside of Japan will likely be in the freezer section of select Japanese or Asian food marts (available in Vancouver at the downtown Korean supermarket H-Mart on Robson at Seymour). Definitely not appealing at first glance – the row come in the original egg sac, taken straight from the fish – this treat is worth closing your eyes and taking the leap of faith. Salty, crunchy and spicy to the tongue, mentaiko pays you back (and then some) for your courage.

mentaiko

fresh mentaiko

Give it a try – I think you’ll say wahoo! too.

Ingredients for Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

  • Enough dried spaghetti for 4
  • One egg-sac of mentaiko
  • About 1/3 cup jako (baby sardines) – optional
  • Approx.  1- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Approx. 3 – 4 Tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • Approx. 2 Tbsp butter (or olive oil – butter will give a milder flavour to the dish)
  • Garnish: thinly sliced shiso herb and/or dried nori seaweed

How to make Wahoo! Mentaiko Pasta

  1. Defrost the mentaiko overnight in the fridge. Once fully defrosted…
  2. 2. Boil the spaghetti in plenty of water. Just before the spaghetti is ready, pre-heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Once cooked al-dente, drain the spaghetti and set aside.
  3. Once the frying pan is hot, add the butter or oil, mentaiko, and briefly sauté until the butter is fully melted (about 20 – 30 seconds).
  4. Add the spaghetti and toss with soy sauce and mayonnaise, adjusting the amounts of each to your taste. This should only take about one minute.
  5. Serve while hot with the garnish(es) of your choice.

Let’s Forking with spicy roe!