Hoisin Salmon Onigiri

Last Christmas, my brother and his family stayed with us for a week. During their stay, they introduced us to onigiri– little bundles of rice stuffed with a filling and wrapped in nori to facilitate eating them by hand. What made it particularly fun was how Ted and Michelle put together the rice and the filling ingredients then set it out on the table with the onigiri molds so that we could each make our own. We had a beautiful fillet of salmon, some fried tofu (for my niece), avocado, wasabi, soy sauce and the nori paper. Everybody dug in, mixing and matching filling ingredients and placed them on a plate so that we ended up exchanging onigiri with one another. Pretty fun, well, unless you picked up one of my father’s creations which were heavy-handed on the wasabi. (Sorry, Michelle!)

So when the blog My Kitchen, My World announced that the world cuisine for October is Japanese, I jumped on the opportunity to finally buy some onigiri molds of my own so I could write my post to submit for the monthly round-up. Although the options for filling onigiri are endless (well, okay, perhaps the upper limit are those items which are toxic or inedible), usually along the lines of salted salmon, pickled plums, benito flakes, etc., I decided to roll with salmon and avocado since I love both so much. For my salmon, I wanted to pack it full of flavor, so I oven roasted a fillet of wild, Coho salmon, glazed with a mix of hoisin, brown sugar, garlic, and Tamari soy sauce.

In addition to the avocado, we had some leftover radish greens and some purple carrots so I chopped those up and put them out on plates for onigiri assembly as a way to boost up my CSA count. Really, between letting the rice cooker cook my sushi rice (a mix of brown and white rice for added color, subtle variety in flavor, and nutritious value), having my oven cook the salmon, and making assembly do-it-yourself, this was an easy meal to throw together. As a testament to how easy it is to make onigiri, John and I made our little rice balls with little attention to how we were filling the rice molds as we were watching the television coverage of the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners with rapt and semi-anxious attention (hence, apologies for the quality of pictures, half of which were taken on a plate sitting on my lap.) It didn’t matter– we still had adorable little triangles of rice sandwiching tender, moist salmon, peppery greens, crunchy sweet carrots, and creamy avocado. Try making onigiri with your family– playing with your food has never been so tasty and so fun.

Note: Onigiri molds can easily be bought online for cheap and come in a variety of shapes, ranging from the traditional triangle and barrel shapes to stars, hearts and even animals. You can also fill them with any ingredient that you want, including canned tuna, tempura, or fried chicken. For the really talented and detail oriented, cut the nori paper to make decorations for your onigiri, like these. The amount of rice that the following recipe generates is enough to make ten 3-inch wide triangular onigiri. Leftover salmon can be used on salads or in a sandwich.

  • 1 cup short grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice
  • 3 cups water plus more for rinsing the rice
  • 1.5 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1.5 teaspoons granulated or castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 16 oz fillet Coho salmon
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of Chinese five spice powder
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped plus 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 medium purple carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch of radish greens chopped
  • 1 large avocado, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 sheets of nori (seaweed) paper, cut lengthwise into 1-2 inch wide strips
  • soy sauce and wasabi paste

Start by making the sushi rice: combine white and brown rice in a rice cooker and rinse three times with water. Add the three cups of water and put in the rice cooker set on cook rice setting. When cooker switches to warm setting, let rice sit for five minutes while you mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar and salt dissolves. Drizzle mixture over rice and mix until each grain is coated. Spread rice out on a baking sheet and let cool to room temperature.

While rice cools, cook the salmon. Pat the salmon dry and season with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of canola oil with the smashed garlic cloves in a 11 x 7 baking pan. Place pan in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix together the hoisin sauce, Tamari soy sauce, brown sugar, chopped garlic and Chinese five spice powder. When oven is heated, take out the pan and carefully lay the salmon fillet down in the hot oil, skin side down. Spread the glaze mixture on top of the flesh side of the fish then bake for 15 minutes or until flesh is opaque and flakey.

Scoop the cooled rice into a serving bowl and set the table with the plated salmon, your other filling ingredients, the nori paper, and soy sauce and wasabi. To assemble, fill the bottom part of your onigiri mold about 1/2 way with an even layer of rice (it helps to wet your hands to keep the rice from sticking to your fingers too much.) Put a little dab of wasabi and brush with some soy sauce if you wish. Add about 1 tablespoon of flaked fish, a pinch of the radish greens, and a carrot and avocado piece or two. Fill the rest of the mold with rice then top with the other half of the mold to squish everything together. Flip the mold over and press on the button to loosen the rice ball from the mold. Wrap the sides with the nori or fold the nori up and over a straight edge of the triangle to form a single rectangle. Dip in a mixture of soy sauce and more wasabi as you eat.

CSA Count: 2

Radish greens, purple carrots




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