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Pan Fried Onigiri - A Lunchbox Staple

First of all, what is onigiri, you ask?

Well, it's a delicious ball of sticky rice that is usually wrapped around some little tasty morsel acting as a filling and it is one of my favourite lunch box items. You can eat it cold and out of hand, it's tasty, nutritious and filling. You can use anything from canned salmon or tuna to leftover meat or fish as your filling. You can make it vegetarian by throwing something else in there - just make sure your filling has lots of flavour since the rice, itself, is very neutral and can support just about anything so you don't even have to always choose asian flavours. I have been known to make jerk chicken onigiri from time to time - I go by what is leftover in my fridge. It's a wonderful thing to make for picky eaters too because you can make them using just plain rice and a bit of leftover roast chicken, for example and leave out the sesame seeds, furikake or any other seasonings that your kid might not like.

If you purchase pre made onigiri and they are encased in nori, like the one I used up there, make sure to take it out of the nori wrapping.

these are some of my homemade onigiri - because I only wrap seaweed around the outside, I can still fry these

Whether you have made your own onigiri like these or bought some pre-made onigiri at an Asian market, this is my favourite way to kick them up a notch. A day old onigiri can get a new life when you pan fry it with a touch of a sweet and salty wash of miso/mirin/dashi. If you have made one that has a blander filling, you can pan fry it like this, put it back in the fridge and then wrap it up in saran wrap when it's time to pack lunch.

It's so easy, it barely needs a recipe:

for every 2 or 4 onigiri, mix 1 tbls of shiro miso, 1 tbls of mirin and a pinch of dashi granules like these, maybe 1/4 tsp in a small bowl.

Heat a frying pan over med to med high heat, drizzle in a bit of sesame oil and lightly fry both sides of the onigiri so it's lightly browned. While you are browning the second side, brush on a light coating of the miso/mirin paste and then flip the onigiri and fry the side with the paste, now brushing the second side with a bit more paste. Keep an eye on it because you don't want the paste to burn, just to get a bit more brown. Flip and fry the second side for another minute, til brown and remove from the pan. You can eat it straight out of the pan or you can chill them, wrap them up and save them for later or to pop in a lunch box with a cooler pack.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

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