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Prep Time:
15 Minutes
Marinade Time:
30 minutes
Grill time:
25 Minutes

Yaki Onigiri

Grilled Rice Balls

Posted on by Andrea Alden
Article Rating
Yaki Onigiri
Serves 2
Prep Time:
Marinade Time: 30 minutes
Grill time: 25 Minutes
Yaki Onigiri is a very popular snack or takeout food made from rice formed into triangle or cylinder shapes, served wrapped with nori (seaweed) paper. Yaki means grilled or cooked To celebrate Rice Ball day on April 19th, I needed to try my hand at such a popular dish. They turned out fantastic, and I quickly got a handle on forming the sticky rice into a shape that resembled the pictures of Onigiri that I have seen. Traditionally Onigiri is stuffed with pickles or other sour things like pickled Umeboshi (Japanese salt plums), salted salmon, kombu (pickled seaweed), pickled tuna flakes, or salted Pollock. Feel free to substitute any of these for the chicken if you want to go super traditional. 
Scoop a handful
Scoop a handful
Place chicken in the middle
Place chicken in the middle

Yaki Onigiri

Serves: 2       Total Time: 70 Minutes



Step 1
Cook the rice as per the package directions so that you get the best sticky rice you can. While the rice is cooking, combine the teriyaki sauce, garlic, and ginger powder. Butterfly the chicken breast and then marinate it in the fridge until the rice is ready.
Step 2
Preheat your grill to 500°F or so to sear the chicken breast. Brush your grill with oil and grill the marinated chicken over direct heat until for about 5 minutes per side. Because it is butterflied, it will grill faster. Leave the grill on.
Step 3
Slice the chicken into bite sized pieces.
Step 4
To make rice balls, wet your hands in the bowl of water and then take a handful of sticky rice, about ½ a cup, placing a chunk of chicken into the center of the rice. Wrap the chicken in the rice; firmly press the rice into a boxy triangle shape. It’s a little strange at first but you will quickly get the hang of it. Repeat until all of the rice is used.
Step 5
Brush the grids again with oil and grill your Onigiri over direct heat until each side is toasted and firm. Make sure that your cooking grids are clean and well oiled or the rice will stick.
Step 6
Serve immediately topped with your favorite things. For a more Japanese feel, bonito flakes, sriracha, soy sauce, and sesame seeds will do the trick. Or drizzle with more teriyaki to go with the chicken. You can also refrigerate and serve these hot or cold the next day.
Serve after grilling
Serve after grilling
Crispy rice is nice
Crispy rice is nice
Popular Japanese snack
Popular Japanese snack

Yaki Onigiri is delicious eaten hot or cold, as a snack or as part of a larger meal. You definitely want to make sure that you have compressed the rice thoroughly before grilling it. If you aren’t confident it will hold together, try toasting it in the oven, or in a frying pan before serving. There is something enticing about it being slightly crunchy on the outside. Once you try this, you will be making your rice this way all the time. How did your rice balls turn out? Leave a comment and tell us!

P.S. Yes, those are Lightsaber chopsticks.

Happy Grilling!

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