Need a lunch idea? How about some savory Yuzu Salmon Onigiri? They’re made with canned salmon, mayonnaise, soy sauce, yuzu kosho, rice and nori. It’s fairly easy and very satisfying.
I have been craving for onigiri recently. It’s all thanks to Bryan, because he has been playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on his Nintendo Switch. The character in the game, Link would cook different kind of food to restore health. One of the food is onigiri. Meaty ones, seafood ones, veggie ones & monster ones. Many years ago, I made Miso Beef Onigiri based on the meaty rice ball.
Today, I’m sharing my seafood version. I used canned salmon. Basically, it’s salmon with mayonnaise. But to make it extra special, I stirred in a little bit of yuzu kosho (yuzu chili paste). The paste is pretty strong, so a little goes a long way.
Yuzu kosho is a Japanese condiment made from chili pepper and yuzu (a type of citrus). Bryan and I first tried this in Tokyo. We were at a charcoal chicken restaurant. When the chicken arrived, it came with a little green paste on the side. It was savory, citrusy and spicy. It complimented the chicken really well. Ever since then, we always has a bottle of yuzu kosho in our fridge. We usually serve it with steak.
Combining yuzu kosho into the salmon brings some citrusy and savory flavors. But you can’t taste the spiciness at all. Adding too much could overpower the salmon. Also add some soy sauce to season the salmon. Last, mix in Kewpie mayonnaise. Keep the mixture in the fridge until ready to use.
For the rice, definitely use Japanese short grain or medium grain. Other rice may not have the stickiness to keep the onigiri together. Cook them in rice cooker like how you would with regular rice. When it’s done, remove from rice cooker and mix a few times to cool. You want the rice to be warm, but not hot. If the rice is too hot, it will be hard to handle with your hands and the mayonnaise in the salmon would melt.
Right before making the onigiri, make sure you have all the ingredients in front of you. Prepare a small bowl of water and a small plate of salt. Then, cut the nori into your desired shapes. I cut mine into 2.5×2.5 squares. And of course, salmon mixture and warm rice.
Start by rubbing both of your hands with water. Water prevents rice sticking to your hands. Then, place a pinch of salt on one of your hands. Rub both hands to get the salt evenly distribute. Grab a portion of warm rice and roll into a ball. Pat gently to create a flat round disk like a pancake. Fill with about a tablespoon of salmon mixture. Carefully gather the rice together to seal. Then shape into a triangle. I found it helpful to shape on a clean surface. Once ready, continue to finish shaping the rest of the onigiri. Wrap the onigiri with nori. Sprinkle furikake on a plate and dip the sides of onigiri onto it. Top the onigiri with a little bit salmon mixture.
Shaping onigiri is not as easy as it looks. It’ll take some practices. Remember not to press too hard. As long as everything hold together, that’s good enough. It’s ok if the onigiri is not perfect. You can always cover up with a larger piece of nori.
I like to eat these onigiri when they’re still a little warm. But they can be served cold. Keep them in air tight container in the fridge (serve within the same day). 3 onigiri is enough for one adult for a good size lunch. For someone who needs more food, you can add a side dish or chips. These onigiri are savory and satisfying. I love all the different flavors coming together. It’s a fun dish to make, and it doesn’t take long. Also, it doesn’t require standing in front of the stove, which is perfect for hot summer days.
Yuzu Salmon Onigiri
- 1¼ cups uncooked Japanese short grain rice
- 5 ounces canned salmon (drained)
- 2 tablespoons Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese mayonnaise)
- ½ teaspoon yuzu kosho (yuzu chili paste)
- 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ cup drinking water
- 2 sheets nori (sushi seaweed)
- Furikake (dried rice seasoning)
- Cook the rice in the rice cooker. Mix and cool for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add salmon. Break apart the salmon with a fork. Mix in mayonnaise, yuzu kosho and soy sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- In small bowl, add ½ cup drinking water. Wet both of your hands with the water. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on one palm. Rub both hands together. Divide the rice into 6 portions. Scoop out one portion of warm rice and roll into a ball. Slightly pat down onto one hand. Make a dent in the middle. Add about 1 tablespoon of salmon. Carefully cover up the with the rice around the edges and roll the whole thing into a ball. Use both of your palms to gently pressure the rice ball into a triangle shape. Repeat with the rest of the rice.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle furtikake onto a small plate. Wrap each rice ball with a piece of seaweed (shinny side out) and press the sides into the furikake. Top with a small dollop of salmon on top. Serve immediately, at room temperature or cold (keep airtight in the fridge).
- 3 small onigiri is enough for a good size lunch for one adult. You can also serve with chips or side dish if needed.
- Kewpie mayonnaise is Japanese mayonnaise. It’s richer than regular mayo. If you can’t find any, use regular mayo. You can buy it from most supermarkets.
- Yuzu kosho is a paste made from chili peppers and yuzu. It’s spicy and citrusy. It’s great to serve with meat, especially steak and chicken. It can be found in Japanese supermarket or from Amazon.
- If you want your nori (seaweed) to be crispy, do not wrap onigiri with nori until ready to serve. Seaweed gets soggy real quick.
- Furikake is a dried seasoning for rice. It adds extra flavors to the onigiri. They come in many flavors, like salmon, seaweed, shrimp, bonito. The classic is the seaweed, which is what I used in this recipe. You can find Furikake in most Asian supermarkets or from Amazon.