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Mushroom and Salmon Onigiri with Pickles

Food

This month we’re thrilled to welcome Julia Busuttil Nishimura to Tasty Tuesday once more, this time with her husband, Norihiko (Nori) Nishimura!  Both passionate foodies, this month Julia and Nori share with us four of their favourite Japanese dishes to cook at home, kicking off with two versions of a classic Japanese snack food, onigiri!

7th October, 2014

Mushroom and Salmon Onigiri ingredients.  Recipe – Julia Busuttil Nishimura & Norihiko Nishimura, Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson.

Mushroom and Salmon Onigiri with Pickles.  Recipe – Julia Busuttil Nishimura & Norihiko Nishimura, Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson.

Norihiko demonstrates rolling mushroom onigiri! (Julia says, try rolling yours in glad wrap if you struggle with bare hands).  Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson.

Salmon, nori and rice ready to roll!  Recipe – Julia Busuttil Nishimura & Norihiko Nishimura, Styling – Lucy Feagins, styling assistant – Nat Turnbull, photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia and Nori at home in Melbourne. Photo – Eve Wilson, production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura & Norihiko Nishimura
Tuesday 7th October 2014

If you’ve ever been to Japan you have probably come across onigiri, most likely in a convenience store! Onigiri are rice balls filled with a variety of ingredients and formed into shapes such as triangles or ovals. They are classically filled with things like umeboshi (pickled plum), salted salmon and kombu, but nowadays, there are hundreds of different varieties.

Onigiri was created centuries ago to make rice easy to eat and portable. Basically, onigiri is the original Japanese picnic food! They are a fantastic alternative to sandwiches for kids’ lunches, and also make perfect snacks.

We’ve made two varieties, one where you flavour the rice with dashi, soy, sake and mushrooms, and the other, a classic onigiri of plain rice and salted salmon. The tip is to work with the rice while it’s warm, and make sure you have wet hands, so the rice doesn’t stick to them. Also, only wrap the rice in the nori when you are ready to eat them, as it goes soggy really quickly. We eat ours with quick pickles of whatever vegetables we have around, umeboshi, and for a complete lunch, some warming miso soup.

Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)

For the mushroom onigiri

  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 380ml dashi stock
  • 30ml cooking sake
  • 30ml soy sauce
  • 200g Shimeji mushrooms, ends trimmed and roughly torn
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

For the salmon onigiri

  • 2 cups short grain rice
  • 200g piece of salmon, pin boned
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

To serve

  • Toasted nori sheets, cut into 4cm strips

For the daikon pickle

  • 1 small daikon
  • 25ml rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cooking sake

For the cucumber pickle

  • 1 continental cucumber
  • 1 long red chili, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar

METHOD

For the mushroom onigiri

Rinse the rice in a colander under running water; agitate the grains with your hands as you rinse them. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, dashi stock, sake and soy and mix well. Lay the mushrooms on top of the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes before turning on the heat. This helps the rice to stick together a little easier. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until all water has been absorbed (approximately 15 minutes) and remove from heat. Leave covered for a further 5 minutes and add spring onions to slightly cooled rice and season to taste with salt. Once the rice is cool enough to handle, you can begin to shape your onigiri.

To shape onigiri, wet your hands with cold water, take a large spoonful of rice and place in the palm of your hand. Cup your hands slightly and use one hand to rotate the onigiri and the other to cup it until you have a firm triangle. Try and work fast to avoid the rice sticking to your hand – if this does happen, you can dip your hand in water again. (If it proves to difficult or sticky with bare hands, try forming your onigiri inside a sheet of glad wrap).  Repeat with remaining rice and serve warm or at room temperature.

For the salmon onigiri

Rinse the rice in a colander under running water; agitate the grains with your hands as you rinse them. In a medium saucepan, add rice and 450ml water. Leave to sit for 30 in the pot before turning on the heat. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until all water has been absorbed (approximately 15 minutes) and remove from heat. Leave covered for a further 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, season salmon generously with salt and cook until salmon is golden, turning once (2-3 minutes each side). Flake into bite-size pieces.

Season cooked rice with a little salt, remembering that the salmon has salt too. Wait until the rice is just cool enough to handle and then you can begin to shape.

To shape the onigiri, wet your hands with cold water and take a large spoonful of rice and place in the palm of your hand. Flatten the rice out and make an indentation in the center. Place a piece of the flaked salmon in the indentation and carefully enclose the rice around the salmon. At this stage, you may need to add a small amount of rice to cover any gaps. Cup your hands slightly and use one hand to rotate the onigiri and the other to cup it until you have a firm triangle. Just before serving, wrap the onigiri in a strip of nori and serve warm or at room temperature.

For the daikon pickle

Half the daikon lengthways, and then thinly slice to make semi circles. Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive container or zip-lock bag and add the sliced daikon, mixing to coat. Leave to pickle in the fridge overnight. The longer it pickles, the more intense the flavour will be.

For the cucumber pickle

Roughly chop or slice the cucumber. Combine the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive container or zip-locked bag and add the chopped cucumber, mixing to coat. Leave to pickle in the fridge overnight. If you prefer the cucumber crunchy and crisp, use sooner as the longer the cucumber stays pickling, the softer it will become.

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