Onigiri Recipe with umeboshi and mentaiko

Onigiri Recipe (Japanese Rice Balls)

What could be more Japanese than onigiri! It is a less fancy version of sushi maki, usually filled with ume (Japanese pickled plums), mentaiko (spicy fish roe), okaka (bonito flakes and soy), tarako (salty cod roe), tuna mayonnaise and kombu (Japanese pickles). Onigiris are great for snacks as they are healthy and filling. I’ve chosen my two favorite fillings for this recipe: Ume and Mentaiko.

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!

Onigiri Recipe (Japanese Rice Balls)

Onigiri with umeboshi and mentaiko

Makes 8 Rice Balls

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Category: Snack
  • Cuisine: Japanese


  • cooked Japanese rice
  • umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums)
  • mentaiko (spicy cod roe)
  • nori sheets
  • salt


  1. A couple of tricks to make good Japanese rice; soak your rice for a few minutes and massage a little until the water turns milky white. This removes some of the starch. Do it 2 or 3 times until the water is almost clear. Follow instructions and measurements listed on packaging. When you add your rice, give it a quick stir, put the lid on and leave it alone! I use a timer each time I make rice, this way I don’t have to worry about under or over cooking it, and it always turns out perfect.
  2. When the rice is cooked, put it in a bowl and let cool. Grab a wooden spoon and gently fold over the rice (do not stir, you want to keep it fluffy!) while adding some salt (until you get your own perfect level of saltiness). Now let’s make our onigiris!
  3. Grab a small handful of rice, shape it into a triangle (or ball) and make a dent in the middle. It’s good to have a bowl of water nearby so you can wet your fingers (it helps with shaping the rice). Add filling of your choice. Wrap a strip of nori (a wider strip will make it much easier to eat) around the rice and you’re done! It’s that easy!
  4. You can keep onigiri by wrapping it in cling film and refrigerate overnight. Zapping it in the microwave for about 30 seconds the next will day make the rice balls nice and soft again.


Onigiri is best when eaten fresh. You can refrigerate the rice and microwave 30 seconds before eating – but the nori (seaweed) wrapper should be added just before eating so it doesn’t get soggy.

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