Onigiri are an essential part of the daily life in Japan. Also called rice balls, they are made by shaping cooked rice into a triangle shape, filled with different types fillings and often wrapped in nori. In the US, they can be found in Japanese restaurants or specialized shops. When you walk into a Japanese convenience store and stop in front of the shelf of rice balls, there are so many different types it’s kind of overwhelming. How are you supposed to choose which one to get? Here’s a ranking of the best onigiri flavors.
A type of kelp flavored with soy sauce, the kombu in the onigiri adds lots of umami flavors to the rice.
The ume onigiri has a umeboshi, a Japanese pickled plum, in the middle which gives a sweet but sour and salty kick.
Rice balls with takana have a great variety of texture and flavor. Takana is pickled mustard greens, and its crunchy texture and slightly spicy flavor contrasts the mellow flavor of rice.
Okaka is dried, fermented, and smoked flakes of skipjack tuna. When dressed in soy sauce, it gives a great salty flavor and the melts perfectly into the rice.
This rice ball contains tarako, a salted roe usually from polluck. The unique texture from the roe popping when you eat it complements the soft, sticky rice.
Mentaiko is basically marinated tarako. It is usually marinated in a spicy chili sauce, giving it more depth of flavor.
Nope, it’s not the Japanese alcohol but a type of salmon that is inside this rice ball. The grilled chunks of fish mixed with the rice make you want to eat more and more and more and…
2. Ebi Mayo
Rice balls with rbi mayo filling, a mixture of shrimp and mayo, are so satisfying to eat. The shrimp with mayo is really good, and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.
1. Tuna Mayo
Last but not least is the tuna mayo onigiri. My personal favorite, and a favorite of many of the Japanese population, the mixture of mayo and tuna first off are great together. Added to the rice ball, the flavors are matched perfectly. I always find myself finishing it all too soon.
So, which one do you think you want to try?