Rice Balls Recipe
- 12 months +
- 12 (1 ounce) rice balls
- gluten free
Rice balls are a traditional travel food in Japan in bentos for school, work, excursions, or long-distance trips. They are the Japanese version of a sandwich that is easy to eat as a finger food for all ages.
Because umeboshi plums have a high salt content, they help preserve rice balls for 2 or 3 days. Other fillings may be lower in sodium, making them more perishable, so they need to be eaten within several hours, or placed in an insulated bag or in the refrigerator. A breathable container helps keep rice balls fresh longer.
You will need
- ¾ cup short-grain brown rice
- ¼ cup sweet brown rice
- Water to cover for soaking
- 2 cups water for cooking
- 1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt
- Nori sea vegetable
- Small dish of water
- Umeboshi paste for filling for 12 months+
Cover rice with water and soak for 8 to 24 hours. If you don’t have time to soak for the longer time span, soak for at least 1 hour, if possible.
- Strain soaking water, add grains and cooking water to pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until all water is absorbed.
- Use a heat diffuser to keep grains from sticking to bottom of pot, and to prevent burning.
- Transfer rice to a large or flat bowl so that air circulates around rice. Do not refrigerate rice before making into balls, or it will not stick together.
Make the Rice Balls
- Cut nori into strips approximately 3 x 4 inches.
- Place a small bowl of water near work area for dipping hands to keep rice from sticking.
- When rice is cool enough to handle, wet hands, and take approximately ½ cup of rice in your hand.
- Press the rice together to form round or oblong balls.
- Press a hole in the center of ball, add ¼ teaspoon umeboshi plum paste for filling, and press rice to cover hole, shaping ball.
- Wrap nori around rice ball.
- Stick loose end to roll with a few drops of water.
Substitute single or multiple fillings:
- Cooked or canned salmon or tuna pieces
- Tempeh pieces
- Almond butter or tahini
- Sauteed or steamed vegetable pieces
Sprinkle the outside with:
- Toasted seeds or nuts, either ground or whole
- A few drops of plum vinegar
- A few drops of sesame, olive, or flaxseed oil
You can also use this recipe to make nori rolls.
- Use a sushi mat and place a sheet of nori on the mat.
- Spread rice on half of sheet horizontally.
- Spread a strip of filling across the rice and roll up with the sushi mat, moistening across the edge.
- Slice into rounds for simple sushi.