Apr 17

Bento Bound—FM’s Tuna Onigiri

in Bento, Japanese, Onigiri, Oyatsu/Snack, Rice & Noodles

Bentos are a Japanese concept that I love. According to the book, “A Dictionary of Japanese Food” by Richard Hosking (if you are interested in Japanese food you should own this book), a bento is “[a] boxed meal consisting of rice, pickles, and any number of accompanying foodstuffs.” These boxed meals are always beautifully presented. If you would like to read some more introductory info on the bento, I wrote another post here. You are going to be seeing this topic brought up from time to time in the future as I try to hone my bento-making skills for Squirrel’s (future) lunches.

Today for lunch I made one of Squirrel’s (and my) favorite things to eat: onigiri, a kind of rice ball. These are wonderful to put into a bento.

For today’s onigiri, I added a little bit of tuna and hijiki (a nutrient-rich seaweed), rice wine vinegar and soysauce, and then lightly grilled them on each side.

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FM’s Tuna Onigiri

Makes 4 rice balls

2 cups freshly cooked Japanese rice (any short grain rice will do), kept warm
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons canned tuna, drained
1 tablespoon hijiki

1. Place the hijiki in a small strainer and rinse. Place in bowl of warm water and soak for about 5 minutes. Strain and rinse again. Chop to the desired size.

2. Mix the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar together and then pour over the rice. Gently mix the rice and liquid together.

3. Add the tuna and hijiki to the rice, and mix.

4. Shape the rice balls.**

5. Place onto a lightly greased baking tray.

6. Pre-heat a barbecue grill or grill pan over high heat.

7. Carefully place each rice ball (large side down) on the the grill, and cook each side briefly, just long enough to lightly toast the surface.

8. Serve immediately, or allow them to cool completely and wrap each one in foil or saran wrap and put them into your bento.

**Shaping the rice balls: There are two ways that this can be done: by hand or by using a mold. I do it both ways, depending on my mood, and depending on the ingredients. Today I did it using a mold, as it gets a little messy doing it by hand with the soy sauce in the rice. There are wonderful instructions on both methods that can be found here (scroll down to see the instructions on shaping by hand).

**The recipe amounts are approximations. You can add more or less of any ingredient depending on who will be eating them. You can also add a variety of other ingredients depending on your mood!

Squirrel’s onigiri was gone before I could even get a picture of her eating it!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Phoe April 17, 2008 at 8:07 am

Mr F and I have started using bento boxes but we’re not so good with the Japanese food. So maybe a bastardized Western version of it. It reminds me of being a kid and having proper packed lunches as opposed to whatever was in the vending machine.


emilynosoucy April 17, 2008 at 8:11 am

great idea, thanks for sharing that with us, i’m looking forward to knowing more !


gleek April 17, 2008 at 8:39 am

mmmm, i love onigiri! we have a few good japanese lunch places in manhattan that make the kind wrapped in nori. delicious! now if only my little girl liked rice :( she’s not down with the texture yet. maybe someday.


Jean April 17, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Ooh, that looks good. Are those carrots as garnish? How’d you get them in the little flower shape?


kawaii crafter April 17, 2008 at 3:55 pm

you know, I never thought to make onigiri with tuna, but now I’m determined to try. I tagged this on delicious so I won’t forget. thanks for sharing the recipe



Fuji Mama's Mama April 17, 2008 at 10:58 pm

I have carrot envy. How did you o that?


Kasia April 19, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Those look absolutely delicious! Now I want one too ;)


Melanie Gray Augustin April 20, 2008 at 3:59 am

Ohh.. they look yummy, might make a few of them for my lunch ;)


Y-Maeda May 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Hello nice to meet you.
KO-N-NI-CHI-WA (^_^)v
I am Japanese.
I saw your wonderful site.
Please link to this site !


m3noq January 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm

This one looks yummy =)
i must try this for my lil girl.

Thank you for sharing

nice to read ur blog =)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Thank you m3noq!


Mercury March 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS RECIPE FM!!! You make this look so easy! i hope to master the art of Bento Boxes one day but i appreciate you posting these easy and “no need for art skills” recipes! keep up the yummy work! SQUIRREL IS ONE LUCKY LITTLE GIRL! :D btw i love her name!


Yuri - Chef Pandita January 26, 2012 at 3:53 am

Baby Squirrel! So cute :)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) January 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

@Yuri – Chef Pandita, I agree, but then again, I am TOTALLY biased.


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