Learn how to make a popular Japanese rice ball, Ume onigiri! The perfect snack for when you're on the go, these refreshing tastes will make your mouth water!
When I think of onigiri rice balls, these pickled plum onigiri comes to my mind first!
The sour salted plum adds a nice punch to simple rice balls. They're so tasty and refreshing!
Let's learn how to make ume onigiri at home, along with many customizing ideas to explore!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love onigiri (rice balls).
- You want to make ume onigiri/pickled plum onigiri.
- You want to make popular onigiri recipe.
- You are looking for ume onigiri variations.
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 Ume Onigiri (Pickled plum)
- Include Popular Onigiri Fillings
- Japanese Ingredients Explained
- How to Wrap Onigiri in Nori Seaweed
- Ume Onigiri Variations
Ume Onigiri: A quick introduction
Ume onigiri is one of Japan's classic rice balls, and people have loved it for generations.
Umeboshi, or Japanese pickled plum, is a salted plum with an intensely sour taste.
You'll be surprised at how sour it tastes when you try a bite for the first time, but putting it in your Onigiri adds a nice flavor to plain rice, and the balance of sourness is just perfect.
Popular onigiri fillings in Japan
What are the most popular onigiri fillings?
Japan's favorite Onigiri fillings are tuna, salmon, and umeboshi. Tarako, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), and kombu seaweed are other top choices!
Are you wondering what other fillings to put in Onigiri? This post, 14 Best Onigiri Fillings, will give you all the answers!
Here are the ingredients for ume onigiri (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Cooked rice (short-grain rice)
- Nori seaweed
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 Onigiri as It's pretty sticky.
Long-grain rice like Jasmine and Basmati would fall apart as they don't have the right stickiness to hold the rice together, so I recommend picking Koshihikari or sushi rice.
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.
Umeboshi (Pickled Plum)
Umeboshi, Japanese pickled plum, is a traditional preserved food in Japan, which is made from unripe plums that have been pickled with salt and dried under the sun. It's common to pickle with red shiso leaves (That's where the color comes from).
It has a sour and salty taste, which goes well with plain Japanese rice.
Remove the seed before using it for Onigiri.
Now, let's move on to the instructions. I'm going to show you how to make Onigiri. You can also watch this recipe video.
- Cut Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
- Remove the seed of umeboshi and chop to make the paste (not in the image). Put aside salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, and a nori sheet.
- Put rice in a small bowl and umeboshi paste 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 in 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 your 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 ingredients on top of an Onigiri like the picture above. It's not only easy for you to see what's inside, but it also looks so cute!
Which nori size do you like?
Your Onigiri will have a different flavor and appearance depending on the size of nori seaweed. Here are four different nori sizes that you can try when 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!
Are you looking for variations? The possibilities are endless when it comes to making onigiris! You can mix rice and filling ingredients to create a new tasting experience.
Here are five ways to customize your ume onigiri if you're looking for more creative ideas!
- Ume wakame onigiri: Combine umeboshi, wakame and rice.
- Ume Goma onigiri: Combine umeboshi, toasted sesame seeds, and rice.
- Ume agedama onigiri: Combine umeboshi, agedama (tempura bits), and rice.
- Ume takuan onigiri: Combine umeboshi, takuan (pickled daikon radish), and rice.
- Ume miso yaki onigiri: Combine umeboshi and miso, spread it on onigiri rice, and toast it for a couple of minutes.
Which one would you like to try? My favorite one is ume agedama onigiri! I hope you will enjoy the variations!
If you want more, you can explore plenty of Onigiri filling ideas in this recipe: 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!
- Ume onigiri
- Vegetable tempura
- Tofu seaweed salad
- Miso soup
If you don't eat Onigiri immediately, please wrap each one with plastic like the picture above 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.
And heat it in a microwave oven right before you eat it (do not thaw it at room temperature as it will get 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.
More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like
- Salmon Onigiri
- Tuna Mayo Onigiri
- 14 best Onigiri filling ideas
- 17 Easy Onigiri Recipes Without Nori Seaweed
- Yaki onigiri
Ume Onigiri (Pickled Plum Rice Balls)Print Pin Rate
- 14 oz Cooked Japanese short-grain rice, 4 small bowls of rice, 400g
- 2 Nori sheets
- pinch of Salt
- 4 Umeboshi (small size)
- Nori sheet: Cut it into 3 equal pieces.
- Prepare ume paste: Remove the seed and chop to make the paste.
- Collect ingredients: Put aside salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, nori sheets, and the ume paste.
- Add ume paste: Put rice In a small bowl, and make a small dent in the center, then add 1 or 2 teaspoons of ume paste.
- 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 in 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.
- Variations: See the "Variations" section for more ume onigiri ideas.
- Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to cooking rice, see "How to cook Japanese stove on the stove."
- The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to tweak it for your preference.
Leave a Reply