This popular rice ball, Kombu Onigiri, is flavorful and tasty! It's perfect for quick lunch or as a portable snack when you're on the go.
The delicious-looking kombu rice ball is easy to make. Just fill kombu tsukudani (see ingredients section for more details) in a ball of sticky white rice, shape it into an attractive triangle, and wrap it in a nori sheet!
Kombu adds a savory flavor to simple Japanese rice. Collect the ingredients and give it a try today!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love onigiri (Japanese rice balls).
- You want to make kombu onigiri.
- You are looking for onigiri recipes.
- You want to know more onigiri variations.
If you're new to Onigiri, don't worry! I'll give straightforward steps for making this tasty treat.
Let me walk you through the ingredients and the instructions. If you want to check the recipe, jump to the recipe. Let's get started!
About this recipe
- How to Make Kombu Onigiri
- Vegan Onigiri
- Include Popular Onigiri Fillings
- Japanese Ingredients Explained
- How to Wrap Onigiri in Nori Seaweed
What is Kombu Onigiri
Kombu or kelp is a type of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine for centuries. It's often used for making dashi (soup stock) as it's rich in umami elements.
Kombu tsukudani is seasoned with soy sauce and sugar and used as an onigiri filling.
Kombu tsukudani is one of the most popular onigiri fillings. With its savory umami taste, you can enjoy every bite of this classic rice ball!
Popular onigiri fillings in Japan
What are the most popular onigiri fillings?
Japan's favorite Onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, and umeboshi. Tarako, okaka (bonito flakes), and kombu seaweed are other top choices!
In case you are wondering what other fillings to put in Onigiri? This post, 14 Best Onigiri Fillings, will give you all the answers!
Here are the ingredients (amounts are in the recipe card below).
Let's go over each ingredient in the following section.
Japanese short-grain rice (Sushi rice)
What kind of rice should I use for Onigiri? The answer is Japanese short-grain rice!
Japanese short-grain or sticky rice is the best for making rice balls. It can hold the shape of a triangle onigiri as it's its stickiness.
If you are unsure how to cook Japanese rice, check here; how to cook Japanese rice on the stove, where I teach the simple method.
Nori is a type of seaweed that's dried, crispy, and sold in sheets like the picture above.
Get this full-size nori sheet (8.3" x 7.5" or 21 x 19 cm) at a grocery store. This size is too large for Onigiri (perfect for a sushi roll, though), so we will divide it into 3.
Kombu or kelp is a type of seaweed used in Japanese cuisine for centuries.
It's an essential ingredient in many delicious Japanese dishes. It's mainly used for making dashi, or soup stock, and delivers an immense amount of umami flavor!
Besides dashi stock, processed products such as kombu tsukudani and shio kombu (salted kelp) are commonly used in everyday cooking.
I use kombu tsukudani in this recipe and shio kombu for variations.
Now, let's move on to the instructions. I will show you how to make Kombu Onigiri step by step. You can also watch this recipe video.
- Cut the Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
- Put aside kombu, salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, and a nori sheet.
- Put rice in a small bowl and kombu in the center of the rice.
- Wet your hands, put salt on your palm, and form a triangular shape.
- Form like this by pressing gently with both your palms.
- Wrap it with a nori sheet.
Here you go!
Eat right away if you like crispy nori seaweed. Or wait a few minutes for the softer texture, like the picture!
Let's take a peek inside!
How to wrap onigiri in nori
This section will look at two ways to wrap triangular Onigiri in a nori sheet.
1. Standard way
The first one is the most standard way to wrap nori.
- Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori sheet.
- Fold the nori sheet to the other side.
That's it! A quick and easy method.
2. Advanced way
The second method is a little more advanced compared to the first one.
- Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori.
- Fold the nori on both sides diagonally.
- Fold the lower part of the nori toward the bottom of the rice.
With this technique, the rice is wrapped from both sides, so you don't have to worry about the rice falling apart when eating.
I recommend placing the kombu filling on top of an Onigiri, like in the picture above. It's easy to see what's inside, but it also looks cute!
Which nori size do you like?
This onigiri recipe uses ⅓ size nori seaweed, but you can try it in different sizes. Here are four different nori sizes that will work for making Onigiri.
Nori seaweed size for Onigiri:
- ⅓ size
- ⅕ size
- ⅙ size
The most common size is ⅓; I usually go with this too.
Japanese convenience stores sell rice balls using half-size nori sheets. Rice is fully covered, and you can taste the flavor of nori.
Which one do you want to try? Let me know in the comment section below!
Here is another way to enjoy Kombu Onigiri. You can mix kombu in the rice instead of filling it.
- Kombu, salmon, and nori
- Kombu, canned tuna, and mayonnaise
If you like easy onigiri recipes, you can find more here: 17 Easy Onigiri Recipes (Rice Balls) Without Nori Seaweed.
What to serve with
Onigiri pairs well with anything, such as grilled fish, tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet), stir-fried vegetables, and simmered dishes.
Here is a sample light lunch menu for you!
- Kombu onigiri
- Tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet)
- Soy meat chunk karaage
- Kabocha salad with egg
- Daikon miso soup
If you don't eat Onigiri immediately, please wrap each one with plastic before they dry.
You can store them for a couple of days in the fridge and one month in the freezer (When freezing, do not wrap the nori sheet).
When you eat frozen Onigiri, use a microwave to warm it (Do not thaw it at room temperature as it will dry).
Thanks For Stopping By
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡ If you've tried this recipe(or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!
Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
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Kombu Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)Print Pin Rate
- Nori sheet: Cut it into 3 equal pieces.
- Collect ingredients: Put aside kombu tsukudani, salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, and nori sheets.
- Add kombu: Put rice in a small bowl, make a small dent in the center, then add 1 or 2 teaspoons of kombu tsukudani.
- Water and salt on your hands: Wet both hands with water, put some salt (2 fingertips of salt) on your palm and rub between your hands.
- Shape rice: Place the rice on your hand, hold with both hands, form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your both palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
- Wrap: Wrap it with nori sheet.
- Equipment: Small bowl (This oxo tot small bowl is perfect for small onigiri)
- Storage: Wrap each one with plastic wrap, put it in a container, and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days and one month in the freezer.
- Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to rice, see "How to cook Japanese rice on the stove."
- The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to tweak it for your preference.