Whether they're filled with tuna and mayo, salted salmon, pickled plum, or countless other options, おにぎり onigiri rice balls are a popular snack both among Japanese people and foreigners alike. They're also one of the easiest snacks to make, so many foreigners experiment making their own.

If you've ever eaten homemade onigiri, however, maybe this has happened to you:

You take a big bite expecting a taste of your favorite filling and you end up with ... a big mouthful of nori and rice but no fillings.

That's what happens when the fillings all end up on one side. And unless you're eating an onigiri with no seaweed wrapped around it, you usually won't find any telltale signs (darker color on one side, or fillings showing through the rice) indicating which side the fillings are on.

Even if you can tell, that doesn't change the fact that you've just bitten into a lopsided onigiri. You're either going to have a mouth full of fillings or a mouth full of rice and nearly no fillings. Obviously, the best rice ball is one in which the fillings are at the center, thereby allowing you to take bites that combine both rice and fillings in balanced amounts.

And there's another issue: When you're making onigiri and you realize that the ingredients are mostly on one side, it's a common strategy to add more rice to the ball, and before you know it, you end up with a giant onigiri. Unless you're feeding someone with a huge appetite, that's not an ideal situation. It also throws a wrench into your plans if you're working with a recipe and trying to make a set number of rice balls.

By following this simple lifehack, you can make a well-balanced onigiri with the fillings in the center.

The secret to a well-balanced onigir?

The trick to getting the onigiri filling in the middle is in the shape of the rice when you spread it out.

First, place the rice on the plastic wrap so that it forms a diamond shape.

Although onigiri are commonly made with plain cooked rice, in this example, we were making onigiri to celebrate a happy occasion, so the rice we used was congratulatory 赤飯 sekihan, sticky rice cooked with azuki red beans and seasoned with salt and black sesame.

As you can see in the photo above, place your fillings on the right half of the diamond.

Pick up the left edge of the plastic wrap and bring it over to the right, being sure to fold the diamond in half. Then, with the wrap still around it, mold the onigiri with your hands to shape it into a triangle.

All that remains is to lightly sprinkle salt on it and wrap it in nori seaweed. That's all there is to it!

Without much time and effort, you've made an onigiri with perfectly centered fillings.


By - grape Japan editorial staff.