Perfect for bento boxes, birthday parties or just any old lunch – this how to make onigiri tutorial is much easier than you think with the right tools!
I’ve actually never eaten an actual crab cake before. This is appalling to me since I love seafood and crab so much.
So I bought an appealing looking package of crab cakes from the frozen section of the grocery store and of course, as soon as I had this delicious smelling treat cooking up in the oven, I immediately switched gears to Asian cuisine.
I couldn’t help myself from thinking that this would make the perfect onigiri filling.
I had an Onigiri triangle form laying around (I mean, who doesn’t?) so I thought, why not? No one will be the wiser (meaning my son and husband).
And I couldn’t have been more right. These are absolutely delicious and super easy to make.
Oh, and I still have never eaten a proper crab cake – haha.
What is Onigiri?
Onigiri a popular Japanese dish also known as omusubi, nigirimeshi, or rice balls. Made from white rice formed into triangular or other shapes, mixed or stuffed with something flavorful and then usually wrapped in nori, or seaweed paper.
Usually eaten as a snack or for lunch, onigiri can be either savory or sweet.
Be sure to experiment with some of your favorite foods like:
- teriyaki chicken
- tunafish (American sandwich style)
- spicy raw sashimi grade tuna
- pan fried SPAM
- bacon and eggs
- egg only omelet (for vegetarians)
- fresh cucumbers
- pickled daikon radish (also called takuan)
What if I can’t find short grain rice?
Unfortunately, this is one recipe where you can’t really make a substitution on the rice. Why not? Short grain, or Japanese style rice (also sometimes called Calrose Rice), cooks up much differently than other types of rice, like Jasmine, Basmati, brown or long grain.
You just will not be able to get the essential “sticky” factor you need for this recipe to turn out well.
Don’t worry though if you don’t have a Japanese or Asian grocery store near you, most mainstream grocery stores already carry this type of rice. The most common brand is Botan Calrose Rice. You can also order it off Amazon here.
Supplies Needed to Make Onigiri
- This Onigiri triangle form (it even comes with half-sheet onigiri seaweed paper!)
- I used these Seaweed Nori Punch Cutters for the cute face
How to make crab onigiri
3 cups white rice, short grain, cooked
crabcakes, cooked or chunk crab or surimi + mayonnaise
Onigiri seaweed paper
sesame seed oil, optional
roasted sesame seeds, optional
*if you only have un-roasted sesame seeds, it is quite easy to roast them. Just place in a dry frying pan or wok and cook stirring constantly on med-high heat until desired brownness is achieved. They will pop and burn if you don’t keep them constantly moving and they do roast very quickly so go ahead and remove from just before they look completely finished and continue stirring until they are the way you want them.
Bake your favorite crab cakes according to package directions (or you could just mix chunk crab with a little bit of mayo).
At the same time, cook some short/medium grain white rice in your rice cooker, Instant Pot, or simply on the stove.
When crab cakes are finished baking, mash up the crab cakes as-is, or if you want to add a bit more authentic Asian flavor, mix in about 1/2 tsp sesame seed oil per crab cake. (add sriracha too, if you like spicy!)
Scoop about 1 tablespoon crab cake mixture into center.
Fill with more rice and then press with form top.
Use this seaweed punch for eyes and mouth.
The bottom seaweed strip (used to hold/keep your fingers from getting sticky) is a simple 1″x3″ strip I cut with kitchen shears.
And tada! You have a snack, lunch or dinner that is as delicious as it is cute :)Print
Want to go super Kawaii?
Still can’t get enough? Check out our other Bento Box posts:
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- Bento Box Mouse + Chia Berry Smoothie Recipe
- 10 Kid Friendly Bento Box Ideas Made with Cuties Oranges
- Fun with Bread: Cute Bento Box Sandwich Recipes
- Super Cute Japanese Kawaii Recipe: How to Make Onigiri