Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Onigiri rice balls with minced chicken

It's been a long while since my last post in English so it's only fair to try and break that bad habit :)

One thing I particularly like about my new job -beside the fact that I speak English every day, have great workmates and enjoy the work itself- is that I can bring my lunch in and most people enjoy seeing my sometimes eccentric foodstuff. Last time I brought onigiri in they were really popular, probably because of my cute box and the fake grass they were sitting on.

Onigiri are Japanese rice balls plain or stuffed with savoury things like tuna, ham, umeboshi (pickled apricots, pictured above), etc: They are Japan's answer to sandwiches when it comes to food on the go. I have shown how to make them here, but basically you need cooked and still warm Japanese rice -for which you need a rice cooker to save you the trouble of badly cooked rice that becomes mushy or stays too dry and hard- possibly some special molds or just your hands to shape them, and plenty of water to keep the rice from sticking everywhere, clothes, hands, spoon...

They are eaten at room temp or cold depending on the filling since you can't leave tuna and mayo for too long out of the fridge while pickled apricots have strong antibacterial properties so you could leave them all day and they wouldn't be bad for you.

Above : Onigiri with minced chicken

The following recipe is adapted from Everyday Harumi, by Harumi Kurihara , a book I like a lot for its superb photography and the delicious recipes I have made from it already : 12, not a bad record by any means.

It includes the way to make perfect Japanese rice without a rice cooker for those of you in the minimalistic kitchen equipment category:

11 oz (320 g)  uncooked Japanese (sushi) rice

Wash the rice in cold water a few times and leave in a strainer for 10-15 minutes before cooking.
Put it in a saucepan with 415 ml water, cover, and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes. DO NOT take the lid off!
Turn off the heat and leave with the lid on for 10 more minutes.

Now if, like me, you can't find minced chicken, grind your own. I have the special attachment for the KA but a food processor or a sharp knife can do roughly the same:

7 oz (200g) boneless chicken thighs or breasts, ground
3 tablespoons (50 ml) soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
(30 ml) tablespoons mirin
1 to 1½ tablespoons sugar

Put all your remaining ingredients in a saucepan and mix together. Bring to a boil and cook until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. It takes about 10 minutes.
Mix the rice and the ground chicken together and let it all cool down to warm before shaping into small rice balls by hand  or with a special mould. Remember to keep your hands and equipment nice and wet while shaping.

I managed to shape three big triangles but the rest started to collapse, for which I blame the residual soy sauce in the chicken. It might be a good idea to drain it or let it evaporate completely in the pan. It's not bad because I had some of the remaining mixed rice with some green beans dressed with a little sesame oil and sesame seeds and it was delicious.


snowy said...

It all looks very interesting, Julie. Am learning a lot from reading your blog.
Pleased to hear about your cookery book. I use mine a lot. x

julie said...

Thanks Eira! You're such an avid baker too, I'm honoured :)


Norm said...

Thanks for the English post Julie - my GCSE French isn't up to too much translation! Your lunch looks gorgeous, I'm so impressed.

comment maigrir said...

it look so tasty ;-)