Sweet Potato Onigiri
Well, this has been a carb-filled weekend! Our first attempt at homemade sushi was such a success, that it lasted two days, and prepping a baked treat for an upcoming article in Khachilife Magazine has left me full, fat and…happy! Because I apparently couldn’t get enough sushi rice this weekend, I decided to cap it all off by sharing my sweet potato onigiri recipe!
Onigiri is a popular Japanese food made with rice formed into a ball, triangle or cylinder and filled with, well pretty much anything! Most popularly it is filled with umeboshi, a pickled plum, seafood or seaweed. But I have seen recipes using pretty much everything, so feel free to experiment! Japanese eat onigiri as a quick, convenient snack, probably due to its portability, simplicity, and diverse fillings.
As a westerner, my first exposure to onigiri was from my favourite, lunchtime anime, Sailor Moon. Every day, the teenage superheroines would open their little bento lunches, and they would have these adorable molded rice balls, sometimes with super-kawaii nori faces winking back at them, and all I ever wanted was a lunch that cute. Now, as a grown-ass adult, I can finally have my cartoon lunch!! Now of only, I could have that ooey, gooey, foldy, drippy Ninja Turtles pizza….#lifegoals.
This is a great way to use up any leftovers you don’t know what to do with. Got a tiny bit of fish leftover from a dinner, don’t toss it! Use it as an onigiri filling! It can go for tuna salad, eggs, or even a bit of leftover veg!
These are surprisingly easy to make and are an adorable and exciting (not to mention cost effective) addition to a packed lunch.
I took a bit of creative liberty here, as onigiri rice is typically not seasoned, as sushi rice is (with the addition of sugar and vinegar) but I like the extra layer of flavour it adds.
This iteration is also super simple: one ingredient, so there is a lot of room for experimentation.
Sweet Potato Onigiri
2 cups of dry sushi rice
1 teaspoon of white sugar
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of water
1 small sweet potato
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 thumb of ginger, minced
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of Korean barbecue sauce (or substitute your favourite sweet barbecue sauce)
1 teaspoon of sriracha
¼ teaspoon of fish sauce
2 sheets of nori
2 round cookie cutters, one 3 inches in diameter, one 1 inch in diameter
Cook the rice in a rice cooker as per package directions
Preheat oven to 350F
Peel the sweet potato and slice into ¼ inch thick slices
In a bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, barbecue sauce, sriracha and fish sauce and toss the sweet potato slices in this mixture. Remove slices from the marinade, but reserve.
Arrange the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until soft, about 20 minutes, turning half way through
Remove from the oven and drizzle with remaining marinade and let cool completely
Once cooled, trim into evenly round pieces, using the 1-inch cookie cutter
Once the rice is cooked, remove from the rice maker using a wooden spatula and place in a glass bowl
In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, rice wine vinegar, and water until the sugar is completely dissolved
Incorporate the vinegar/sugar mixture into the rice, using the spatula to gently massage together
Once fully incorporated, cover the rice with a wet paper towel
Cut the nori into strips, ¾ inch thick and 2 inches long
At this point, you can also trim the nori into shapes for additional decoration
Lay a piece of parchment on your work surface
Wet the 3-inch cookie cutter and place on the parchment
Fill half way with rice, and pack down firmly with your fingers, the back of a spoon or the bottom of a glass. If it is too sticky, wet your implement
Make a small indent and place the sweet potato in it and cover with an even layer of rice, and pack down again
Remove the mold, and apply the strip of nori as a small handle on the bottom and garnish with your nori designs
Enjoy with dipped in soy, hot sauce or any of your favourite condiments
If you are not eating right away, wrap tightly in plastic wrap