My favourite starch sides are potatoes, pasta and rice … in that order. Since I haven’t had any potatoes in the house for almost two weeks, I’ve been relying more on the other two in my cooking. Especially rice.
Whether long, medium or short grain, rice is quick to prepare and a fitting neutral base for many flavours and add-ins.
Sticky, short grain rice brands, like the Nishiki ($2.20 / lb), Calrose and Kokuho Rose varieties, available locally, are something I’ve only been eating for about five years, mostly in sushi dishes, though you can make a great sweet rice pudding with them too. And risotto, usually made with Arborio and Carnaroli, can also be made with ‘sushi’ rice brands.
To switch things up, I decided to make “onigirazu”, a type of sushi rice sandwich wrapped in a full sheet of nori. Like the rice balls, “onigiri”, I posted a while ago, this is a portable sushi food item often found in bento boxes. Depending on the fillings, the onigirazu may be served cold, room temperature or warmed slightly.
Okaka Onigiri and Cream Cheese and Lox Onigirazu
I’ve been putting off making this dish because I made the mistake of buying a package of (400) half sheets of nori, a while ago, and am too ‘frugal’ to buy more before I use them up. However, I’ve made thicker sushi rolls using two overlapping nori half sheets, so I thought I’d use that technique and attempt this dish.
Another variation/adaptation of the regular onigirazu is that instead of making a square block of rice on top of the nori sheet, placing the fillings on top, then covering it with the same amount of rice, shaping that into a square block and wapping the whole with the nori sheet, I used a mold into which the sushi rice would be placed etc. This is similar to the technique I used to make the Spam “musubi” some time ago. Since I didn’t have a square mold, I thought I’d use a short tin can with the top and bottom removed. An English muffin ring may be used if you have one. About 1/3-1/2 cup of rice is used for both the top and the bottom of the ‘sushi rice sandwich’.
A few pictures of how to assemble the onigirazu … start with a sheet of food wrap over your assembly area then lay down your sheet of nori and center your mold on the sheet.
Cream Cheese and Lox Onigirazu
I really like smoked salmon so I went with two layers.
Philadelphia Roll – there are several versions of this roll but they all include smoked salmon and cream cheese. Other ingredients include sliced avocado or julienned cucumber.
Okaka (dried bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce) Onigiri – ingredients needed for this include about a cup of cooked sushi rice, 2 tbsp of bonito flakes, enough soy sauce to moisten, a 1-1 1/4 inch strip of nori and a large pinch of salt to flavour the rice.
Add the soy sauce a few drops at a time to your bonito flakes and stir them in, repeating, until most of the flakes are moistened.
Baker’s Dozen of Onigirazu Filling ideas
… as found on various web sites especially “Just One Cookbook”. Nami makes her many Japanese recipes accessible to the western home cook and her website is a valuable resource for new ideas and adaptations of classic dishes.
1. Spam, fried egg, iceberg lettuce (for crunch, you may also use the more tender butter lettuce)
2. Chicken or pork katsu, finely shredded lettuce, mustard and tonkatsu sauce
3. Beef bulgogi, sauteed mushrooms and shredded carrot, blanched spinach and bean sprouts, and fried egg
4. Sliced ham, cheese and Japanese sweet rolled omelette (tamago)
5. Tofu – plain or marinated (sweet teriyaki, spicy BBQ, dijon mustard and garlic or honey mustard, lemon herb) and grilled
6. BLT (bacon, lettuce and tomato)
7. Western Omelette (diced ham, green bell pepper, and onion)
8. Clubhouse (sliced cooked chicken or turkey, fried bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise)
9. All Veggie – romaine lettuce, julienned carrot, thinly sliced English cucumber, tomato, red onion, avocado, red cabbage, mustard and mayonnaise
10. Chicken, egg or tuna salad sandwich
11. Teriyaki salmon and grilled asparagus
12. Avocado and lox (smoked salmon)
13. Hot dogs and lettuce