Pokemon Onigiri (aka Japanese Rice Ball) Recipe

 In Recipes

Remember all the “jelly donuts” Ash and his friends and Team Rocket ate in Pokemon? They looked pretty weird for donuts, didn’t they? Turns out, they changed the script to make things ‘easier’ for little kids regarding unknown foreign foods. Those “jelly donuts” were actually onigiri; a staple Japanese food, also simply known as rice balls. Easily portable, and often a mainstay in bento boxes, onigiri are quite easy to make.



  • Rice -Short to medium grain, plain white rice is best. Please don’t use instant/microwave rice. I personally like to use Kokuho Rose Rice (which I find at my local grocery store). I used 1.5 cups of dry rice to make my plate of 6 onigiri.
  • Salt
  • Filling of choice -one of the most common fillings for onigiri is umeboshi (aka pickled plums). Other common fillings are shrimp or canned tuna (mixed with mayo), cooked tuna or other salted fish, like salmon, teriyaki chicken, bonito flakes soaked in soy sauce, or just about any kind of pickled vegetable. I used tuna and smoked salmon for mine.


  • Nori -seaweed; the thin, paper-like sheets often used to wrapped sushi.
  • Sesame seeds
  • Furikake
Pokemon rice balls/jelly donuts
Photo credit: ambyfelix
Team Rocket and onigiri
Photo credit: dogasu.bulbgarden
1. Cook your rice. Here is the procedure I follow (since I have yet to replace my broken rice cooker). I first rinse my rice, then place it in a pot with double the amount of water (so, 2 cups of water for 1 cup of dry rice…or 3 cups water for 1.5 cups dry rice). I bring it to a full boil for 1-2 minutes. I cover the pot with a lid, then reduce the heat to low for 15-20 minutes; until the water is absorbed. Then, I turn the heat off and let the pot rest a final 5 minutes. Let your rice cool.
Kokuho Rose white rice
onigiri ingredients

2. Onigiri is often formed into triangular or cylinder shapes. Wet your hands (to keep the rice from sticking) and add salt. Take your rice and begin to form it into the desired shape using your hands -think snowball process here (with a lighter pressure), working the rice with your hands in a u-shape to cup the ball/triangle form.3. Push a dent into your rice, add your filling of choice (you don’t have to have a filling if you don’t want), then cover with more rice to fill in the hole. Reshape as necessary.

tuna rice ball
making smoked salmon onigiri
making rice balls
making triangle shaped onigiri

4. (Optional) Roll your rice ball in sesame seeds, sprinkle with furikake, and/or wrap with nori (or cut the nori to make designs).5. Serve and enjoy or wrap tightly with plastic wrap for a later time. How long they’ll keep in the fridge depends largely on the filling used.

(check out my photo below -my camera went wacky on me and created an almost halo-like glow around the onigiri…odd!)
plate of onigiri rice balls
Have you ever had onigiri before? What’s your favorite filling or topping? What kind would you like to try? Let me know in the comments below! To be honest, this was my first time both making and eating onigiri. I did not care for it too much, but I’ve never been a huge fan of plain white rice. I also prefer my smoked salmon as a stand alone 🙂





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Showing 4 comments
  • pepi

    OMG I loooove Onigiri! I ate tons when I was living in Tokyo 🙂 (Now I make them too)

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)

      That’s awesome pepi! What’s your favorite filling to use?

  • Kim

    Can you put the jelly in the onigiri? I just want to make them like in Pokémon (>_•)/

    • Jessica (aka The Nifty Nerd)

      Haha. Well, I’ve never had jelly and rice mixed together but I like to never knock something until I try it…you never know, right?!

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