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A healthy, homemade fast food: rice balls

As a mom- and as a snacker- I’m always looking for more finger foods (especially anything vegetarian). Since lately my daughter has been asking for rice, I decided I wanted to try to make Japanese rice balls. I happened to be having lunch yesterday with a friend from Tokyo and asked her how she made them. She said she simply puts warm water on her hands and a bit of salt (*optional) and shapes it into a ball.

Rice and water (and salt) is the simplest form of onigiri (the most common name for Japanese rice balls), also known as Japanese comfort food, or Japanese soul food, but it can be filled with just about anything: fish or meat, but also veggie options, like tofu, seitan, chopped pickles or vegetables (I’m going to try steamed broccoli with soy sauce soon).

It is most often made with white rice, but can be made with brown. The more important element is that the rice is of a stickier variety: so not jasmine or basmati, but a medium, or short, grain rice (look for “sushi” or “risotto” rices).

In this video, I took advantage of some of the brown rice leftover from lunch, wet my hands, shaped a few balls and let my 2-year-old add a bit of salt and taste-test my first rice balls. It took all of 30 seconds.

(Note: I made mine much smaller than the typical 1/2 cup of rice per ball. Tastes the same anyway.)