I guess I completely missed the existence of these for the past 25+ years. My foodie son asked me about making onigirazu, and I had no idea what they were. I had to look them up. Lo and behold, they actually come from a Japanese manga, Cooking Papa, whose lead character invents them. For tons more info, just search online for cooking papa and onigirazu and you’ll find the whole story, along with endless ideas for fillings.
Naturally, after learning about these, I had to make them. And having just made meat for sanshoku bento and chicken teriyaki, I already had the main ingredients already cooked. And because we always have rice and nori sheets, it was just a matter of making the rice and assembling the ingredients.
While the photos show teriyaki onigirazu, there are as many options for variations as there are for western-style sandwiches. Below are some great options. If you have leftovers from any of these dishes, just use the meat/main part of the dish in an onigirazu. Fried foods taste particularly good in onigirazu and onigiri.
- Tonkatsu–the cutlet part of tonkatsu
- Fried tofu
- Soboro donburi–use only the cooked meat in the onigirazu
- Buta no kakuni
- Tempura shrimp
- Gyuniku–use only the cooked meat and onions in the onigirazu
What you’ll need:
- Freshly cooked rice (still warm, but not too hot to work with)
- Meat or tofu—the star of the show
- Lettuce leaves, tomato slices or thin cucumber slices (optional)
- Nori sheets (one for each sandwich)
What to do:
For each sandwich, first lay your square nori sheet on a cutting board, rough side up, edges squared up with the edge of the board. Add a layer of rice in a square diagonal to the nori sheet (Figure 1). Maybe make the square of rice a little larger than the one shown.
On top of the rice, add whatever meat or tofu you’re using, topped by whatever sliced vegetables or lettuce you want, topped with yet another layer of rice.
Now for the folding. First fold a pair of opposite corners to the center of the onigirazu (Figure 2), followed by the other pair of corners. Your sandwich should now look like a small green square parcel.
Cut it in half either squarely or diagonally and serve. Or, wrap and save it as part of a bento lunch.