Having fun with onigiri: Japan’s ultimate snack food

Source : tourist-note.com

When we say “Japanese food”, the first few things that come to mind would probably be ramen, tempura or tonkatsu. However, in Japan, these are not everyday Japanese foods, which are usually something simpler and easier to eat like onigiri, a Japanese rice ball.

The triangle-shaped rice ball, or “onigiri”, is an unflavored rice ball with filling inside. It is shaped to be around the same size as our palms, making it small enough to be eaten with one hand, as well as being convenient and easy to carry around. You can have it as a snack or even instead of a meal. It’s the ultimate Japanese food!

The rice ball eating culture has been embedded in the Japanese society for a very long time. The first written record mentioning eating of rice ball was dated back to the 11st century. At first, Onigiri started off as a rice ball with salt, and then it transformed as better ingredients such as seaweed become widely available. The traditional fillings for Onigiri are Umeboshi (pickled plum), salty Salmon, dried and fermented Skipjack tuna (Katsuobushi) or anything salty that could acts as natural preservative as Onigiri were meant to be consumed on-the-go.

Up until today, Onigiri remains Japan ultimate food and snack. Japanese people still make Onigiri at home to put in their lunch box and eat at work. It is also a top choice for a hurry lunch or when you are hungry but do not have time as it is very easy to eat and can fill your stomach very well. Now, you can find Onigiri almost everywhere, in supermarkets and in convenience stores. The traditional fillings like pickled plums and salty Salmons are still there for you to pick from, but these days there are a lot more flavours for you to explore. Flavours like Fried rice Onigiri or Omelette rice Onigiri are one of the fews blend of the modern and traditional Japanese culture you can try. 

If you are thinking about trying some onigiris, we recommend you go to a convenience store where you can buy them for around 100 yen. They have tons of onigiri you can select from. However, if you are not sure which one to buy, as the labels are all in Japanese, we have prepared a simple tutorial for you. Below is a list of the five most popular onigiris in Japan.

No.1: Tuna mayonnaise - In Japanese it’s written as ツナマヨネーズ (Tsuna Mayonesu) or ツナマヨ (Tsunamayo) and it usually comes with a blue label.

No.2: Sha-ke (salmon) - In Japanese it’s written as “しゃけ” (Sha-ke) , “さけ”(Sa-ke), “鮭”or “サーモン” (Sa-mon). Although there are many ways to pronounce these words, they all refer to the same thing, which is salmon. It usually comes with a red or dark pink label.

No.3: Mentaiko (Processed roe) - In Japanese it’s written as “明太子”. Personally, I think this one is an easy one to try and start with.

No.4: Okaka (dried and fermented Skipjack tuna) - In Japanese it’s written as “おかか” (Okaka).

No.5: Ume (pickled plum) - The traditional onigiri filling. In Japanese it’s written as “梅” (U-me).

We hope this article can help you pick out the onigiri you want to try. Let’s explore and have fun with onigiri together!

Tourist Note JAPAN

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Tourist Note JAPAN