This simple and delicious Onigiri recipe is a true crowd pleaser! Everyone – from kids to gourmands – loves a good Japanese rice ball with chicken and spicy sriracha mayo!
Onigiri Recipe: Chicken and Spicy Mayo
Onigiri (which is the honorific term for nigiri) has been a favorite snack of mine since I was a little girl. I love the variety in flavors and the simple ritual of wrapping nori (dried seaweed) around a ball of perfectly cooked Japanese rice.
One of the earliest memories I have of eating onigiri was during my first trip to Japan at the age of four. It was a hot summer afternoon at my aunt Eiko’s house near Tenjin in Fukuoka, that I first fell in love with the snack. I was watching cartoons on TV in my Hello Kitty pyjamas, when my aunt popped her head out of the kitchen to see if I was hungry. I answered with a small nod since I could barely speak Japanese, let alone understand it. She then brought me a pitcher of mugicha (barley tea) filled with ice and a small plate of bite size onigiri. The teeny rice balls were warm, seasoned with salt and wrapped in sheets of flavored toasted seaweed (ajitsuke nori). Not only were they all perfectly shaped and the exact same size, they were also the best onigiris I had ever tasted.
Okay, I was only four years old and from a small town in Quebec so what did I know about an onigiri recipe – or Japanese food in general, right? I was no onigiri recipe expert back then but I can tell you that it left a strong imprint in my memory! So strong in fact that I STILL often think about that batch of bite size onigiri. What could she have possibly done to make them taste so good? I have tried so many times to recreate them but can’t seem to get the right ratio of salt to rice, nor the perfect rice temperature. How can something as simple as a plain onigiri recipe with salt be so hard to reproduce?
After years of trying to solve this tasty mystery I eventually gave up and instead, came up with my own delicious onigiri recipe.
Say hello to my chicken onigiri recipe! The umami and saltiness is infused directly into the chicken pieces while a layer of julienned ginger and carrots bring heat and sweetness. I also added a little sri racha mayonnaise to make this chicken onigiri recipe a major flavor bomb!
When making an onigiri recipe, the flavor options are truly endless. I’ve had so many different versions of 0nigiri and I must say I always enjoy devouring them! For this oinigiri recipe I used chicken to change things a little, since fish is usually the main protein in onigiris. By marinating the chicken in garlic, sake and soy sauce for as little as 20 minutes, I was able to change its texture and make it super moist! I was so surprised by how delicious the chicken was that I momentarily considered posting it on its own. But nah, fuhgettaboutit – A chicken onigiri is way more filling and exciting to eat!
This onigiri recipe is also very versatile: no chicken in the fridge? Use pork or beef instead! Don’t want meat? Go vegetarian with seitan or try marinating medium or firm tofu. As I said before, the options are endless with onigiri! It’s a delicious and healthy snack (or meal!) that’s easy to make and fun to share.
Did you like this Onigiri Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!
- ⅓ pound boneless chicken breast (preferably thinly sliced)
- 1 2½ inch piece of ginger (about the size of your thumb), peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 small carrot, peeled, sliced in into thin strips the same length as the ginger
- 1 scallion, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cup cooked Japanese rice
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp sri racha sauce
- Nori sheets
- kosher salt
- Add chicken, garlic, soy sauce and sake in a bowl and mix well. Marinade for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise and sri racha sauce together in a bowl and set aside.
- Add salt to the rice and using a plastic or wooden spoon, fluff the rice (do not over mix or toss) until salt is evenly mixed in.
- In a small pan over medium heat, add oil, carrots and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes, until vegetables are soft but still yielding a slight crunch. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Using the same pan, add chicken and cook on medium for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Set aside.
- Assembling the onigiri:
- Set a bowl of water next to your ingredients.
- Wet your hands (this prevents the rice from sticking) and grab a small handful of rice. Flatten the rice and shape it into a triangle.
- Make a dent in the center of the nigiri and spread a little sir racha mayonnaise all the way to the tip of the nigiri.
- Place a few pieces of chopped scallions on top and follow with a few slices of ginger and carrots.
- Finish by adding one or two pieces of chicken on top of the vegetables.
- Lay the onigiri on top and in the center of a sheet of nori. Fold in half and serve onigiri individually or on together on a plate.