Chickpea (Tuna-less) Salad Onigirazu
Makes 2 onigirazu, plus leftover chickpea salad for future onigirazu
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise (use a vegan mayonnaise like Just Mayo if you are trying to keep your onigirazu plant-based)
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus additional salt for seasoning rice
2 sheets nori (Japanese seaweed used for rolling sushi)
1 1/3 cups steamed Japanese short grain rice (often labeled Calrose rice or sushi rice)
2-3 green lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
1. Use a potato masher to mash the chickpeas in a large bowl. Mash the chickpeas until they are broken down into various sized pieces, but not mashed into a puree. Add 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise, the rice vinegar (or lemon juice), and the 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, then mix everything together. If you want your chickpea salad to be a bit wetter, add additional mayonnaise until it reaches your preferred consistency. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt as needed.
2. Lay out a square of plastic wrap that is larger than the sheets of nori on a clean work surface. Put one sheet of the nori, rough side facing up, with one of the corners pointing towards you, on top of the plastic wrap.
3. Put 1/3 cup of the steamed rice in the middle of the plastic wrap and spread it out into a square that measures approximately 4 inches by 4 inches and lightly pat it down. (Shape the square so that the corners are pointing towards the sides of the nori, not the corners of the nori.) Sprinkle the rice with a pinch of salt.
4. Arrange several pieces of the torn green lettuce on top of the rice, followed by a couple tablespoons of the chickpea salad, then another layer of torn green lettuce, pressing down lightly as you add each layer. Add another 1/3 cup of the steamed rice to the top of the stack, and sprinkle the rice with another pinch of salt.
5. Starting with the left corner of the nori, bring it up and over the rice stack and hold it with your finger. Take the right corner of the nori and fold it so that it overlaps slightly with the first corner. Continue folding with the bottom and top corners until the rice stack is completely wrapped in the nori. Set it aside for 5 minutes.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 with the remaining ingredients. At this point the onigirazu are ready to eat or be packed into a bento. If you want them to be more visually appealing, carefully unwrap them and cut them in half with a sharp knife, then wrap each half separately in plastic wrap. Put the extra chickpea salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator and save for future onigirazu, or switch things up and use it in sandwiches!
*Recipe Notes: Letting the onigirazu sit for several minutes before cutting into them will make this step easier because the nori will hold together better. You can also pack the cut halves without wrapping them in plastic wrap, but I find that plastic wrap protects the halves from things like kids dropping their lunchbox, etc.