Oops, My Onigiri!
I’m so sick of being on reserve! I’m on day 2 of a 6-day stretch of reserve time. Sigh, the glamorous life of a flight attendant.
But it gives me so much time to COOK! And BLOG! Which is why I’ve been posting and Tweeting so much lately. (So why am I complaining? As far as I’m concerned, they don’t EVER have to call me in to work.)
Yesterday I made a ton of food for any possible trips I do get called for. There will be a 4-day trip starting tomorrow, I just feel it in my soul!
One food I’d been dying to make is onigiri, which is a rice ball/patty that often has a surprise filling. It’s a Japanese comfort food, eaten as a light meal or snack.
I first tried onigiri when I spent a month in Hawaii last year. In Honolulu, where I spent about a week, I went to the ABC Store a LOT. How could I not? They have cheap mini-bottles of alcohol and junk food, cute Hello Kitty stuff, and, well, they have a zillion locations. Don’t like the cashier at one store? There’s another store literally a half-block away. I was surprised to learn that there are “only” 39 ABC locations on Oahu, until I learned that all those stores are located within an approximately 1-mile stretch of Waikiki beach! Now it all makes sense.
Anyway, a girl walks around a lot and gets hungry. She wants a cheap, yet somewhat wholesome snack. ABC Stores sell onigiri, which is called musubi in Hawaii. At first she’s not interested because she wants sushi, but they don’t have vegan sushi. She buys one of the exotic, neatly-wrapped triangles–the plum flavor. She sits on a bench outside, carefully unwrapping her snack. She takes a bite. The crackly seaweed wrapper, the soft, starchy rice, and the explosion of tangy tartness of the tiny red pickled plum nestled inside awaken her senses. Thus, a new favorite Hawaii snack is born.
I hadn’t had onigiri since I left Honolulu; it hadn’t occurred to me until recently that I could make it myself, using ingredients found at any Asian grocery store. Lucky for me, Denver’s Pacific Mercantile Company is just a few blocks away.
Could I make onigiri and freeze some of it for my lunchbag? Hmmm…
So, using the step-by-step instructions on the lovely JustHungry.com, I gave it a whirl.
The instructions were so easy and I was having so much fun that I made about a dozen onigiri, three different kinds:
- Triangles with traditional umeboshi plum filling (just like ABC’s, only I left the nori wrapper off because it’d get too soggy)
- Round patties with no filling, sprinkled with pretty green furikake, which is a savory rice seasoning. The kind I bought was made of bits of seaweed, sesame seeds, sugar and salt.
- Balls filled with miso paste, because I have a ton of miso paste.
Once I was done, I wrapped them up in the same plastic wrap I used to make them and sealed them with tape, as you can see above. And I just felt soooo fancy afterward. A little too fancy.
I just opened one up and it turns out I did something extremely dumb. BEFORE cutely wrapping my rice balls up with tape, I left them on the counter, uncovered, to cool slightly before putting them in the freezer, the way I do with most piping hot foods. Big mistake! Because I left it uncovered for so long, the rice lost a lost of moisture. (So that’s why Andy’s always telling me to close the ricemaker!)
So now, after having been in the refrigerator, my onigiri is so crumbly and dry it makes you choke when you eat it. AAAGGHH!! And that’s just the ones I put in the ‘fridge–I’d hate to see how the frozen ones turned out.
I will fix this. How, I dunno. Maybe I could steam them to restore some of the moisture? Shit.
I wanna go back to Hawaii. ABC Store, here I come…
[UPDATE: A couple days later, I made a new batch of onigiri, making sure to wrap the rice balls up tightly and refrigerate them immediately. They turned out great! The rice was still soft the next day. I froze a few to take with me for work, and I don't know how those will turn out but I have hope!]