Fragrant grilled Japanese rice seasoned with seaweed and grilled with a brushing of savory soy sauce, the perfect yaki onigiri
What is yaki onigiri?
Yaki onigiri directly translates to grilled rice ball in English, which is exactly what it is. These Japanese grilled rice balls are toasted over a grill or in a frypan until the outside is crispy and brushed in soy sauce for a salty, savory touch. Sometimes they are also brushed with miso or unagi sauce!
The inside is typically plain fluffy white rice, but you can fill it with whatever filling you like.
These ones are filled with mozzarella cheese for a fun, cheesy pull. I've also seasoned the rice with some furikake. Furikake is a Japanese seaweed seasoning used in rice, which gives it a delicious flavor.
- Short-grain rice: Make sure you use short-grain rice as this kind of rice is slightly stickier and easier to work with than regular medium, long-grain, or jasmine rice. Just search for sushi rice at your local supermarket!
- Water: You can't skip water when you cook the rice!
- Furikake: This is optional, but I like to add some of this seaweed seasoning to the rice for a delicious umami flavor. If you don't have any feel free to leave it out, it's not essential. You can also use sesame seeds or seaweed flakes as a substitute!
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce gives the rice balls that salty, savory flavor! Some people even use seasoned soy sauces like teriyaki sauce, unagi sauce, or mentsuyu for a different flavor.
- Mozzarella cheese: This is totally optional, but a delicious stretchy surprise when you bite into your rice ball.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do these last?
These are best when freshly grilled. At this point the rice is crispy, the inside is fluffy and warm and if you used cheese it will be melted and super stretchy. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
What should I cook these on?
I cooked these on a charcoal grill as this gives them a delicious smoky flavor. However, you can cook these over the stovetop in a regular frying pan greased with oil, or a cast iron pan for a super crispy crust.
Can I make these ahead of time?
Yes, you can! You can make and shape the onigiri beforehand, then when you're ready to serve just grill and brush with soy sauce.
What to serve yaki onigiri with?
Yaki onigiri is typically served as a bar food at izakayas as they make a great accompaniment with various grilled meats and the saltier side dishes you usually get at bars.
I like to serve these alone as a quick snack, or for lunch in a bento box. Or as an accompaniment to a homemade Japanese bbq!
How to reheat yaki onigiri?
If you have any leftover onigiri you can heat them up for a couple of seconds in the microwave, over a grill, or in the air fryer! Don't heat them up for too long as the rice will get dry and hard.
Can I fill these?
You definitely can! Filled onigiri is a staple in so many Japanese homes and convenience stores. Here are a couple of my favorite fillings:
- Tuna and mayo
- Imitation crab meat and mayo
- Pickled plum
- or just your favorite kind of protein!
Let's Get Cooking
If you already loved onigiri, you're gonna fall in love with them even more now. Fill these Japanese rice balls up with your favorite toppings and grill them for a treat you'll love!
If you liked this recipe make sure to leave me a comment and rating down below, I would love to know how you went.
Also, don't forget to tag me on Instagram @catherine.desserts and hashtag #cattycakes so I can see and share your desserts. Follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, Youtube, and TikTok for more of my baking creations and updates! Until next time... happy caking!Print
Fragrant grilled Japanese rice seasoned with seaweed and grilled with a brushing of savory soy sauce
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 Onigiri 1x
- Category: Rice
- Method: Easy
- Cuisine: Japanese
- 2 cups Uncooked short-grain white rice
- 480ml Water (2 cups)
- ¼ cup Furikake, aka Japanese seaweed seasoning, optional
- 60ml Soy sauce (¼ cup)
- 6 cubes of Mozzarella cheese, optional
- Wash the uncooked rice under running water until the water runs clear
- Combine the rice and water in a rice cooker and cook until done (or use your preferred method of cooking rice)
- Once cooked allow the rice to cool slightly, it should be cool enough to hold with your hands
- Add the furikake and mix until combined
- Divide the rice into 6 portions and roll into a rough ball
- Add a piece of cheese in the center of each ball (optional)
- Using your hands or an onigiri mold shape each ball of rice into a triangular shape (If using your hands: cup one hand into a "C" shape and hold the other palm beneath flat, then continue to rotate the ball of rice, using the cupped hand to form the three points of the triangle)
- Preheat a charcoal grill or frypan (use a little vegetable oil or butter to prevent the rice ball from sticking)
- Add the rice ball a cook on both sides until lightly toated
- Using a pastry brush both sides of the onigiri with soy sauce
- Continue to cook, turning occasionally, until the onigiri is cooked to your preferred level of char
- Serve immediately!
Keywords: onigiri, rice ball, soy sauce, japanese, izakaya, grilled, hibachi