How to make yakimiso onigiri

Along with tuna-mayo onigiri and umeokaka, where a paste of dried bonito flakes and pickled plum is mixed with the rice, Yakimiso onigiri belongs to my favourite ways how to eat rice balls. Yaki means “grilled” so it’s basically onigiri with grilled miso flavour. All of the ingredients for these three kinds of onigiri are Japanese kitchen staples, and can probably be found at some grocery stores even if you’re not living in Japan.
Recently I’ve been craving simple Japanese home cooking which is easy to make and so very tasty. Why not give it a try?

Yakimiso onigiri (焼き味噌おにぎり) – simple and tasty Japanese home cooking

Miso, the rich and dense paste of fermented soy beans is made with the same koji(麹) fungus (Aspergillus oryzae) as for example soy sauce, and can be used in a variety of Japanese dishes and cooking styles. While miso might be most known in form of miso soup there’s many other ways to enjoy its full umami flavour.

The ingredients for yakimiso onigiri are as follows; sushi rice, miso and sake. If you like you can add spring onion as garnishing or even add butter. For practical reasons but also because I like the taste of seaweed and wouldn’t want to miss it, I used a strip of nori (dried seaweed sheet). First you’ll need to cook the rice and let it rest a little until it’s cool enough to handle it with your hands and bring it in the desired triangular shape. I usually make two cups of rice and that’s enough for six rice balls if you don’t make them too large and they don’t have any filling.

Naked onigiri befor they get their crispy, golden coat

The sauce you’ll spread on both sides of your onigiri is a mixture of miso and sake, which makes it more spreadable. Take just enough sake, maybe two or three teaspoons and a tablespoon of miso paste to make the sauce. You’ll also need a good frying pan and a little bit of vegetable or sesame oil to grease the surface of the frying pan. I used a silicone cooking brush to coat the onigiri evenly but you can also take a simple brush, spoon or even your finger. Coat one side of the onigiri and place it in the hot pan with the coated side downwards. Start coating the blank side while the other side is turning golden brown.

The challenging part is to turn the surface crispy without burning it too much as the miso will taste bitter if it gets charred. Repeat the process of flipping and coating several times in order to make the coating thicker and the rice absorb more flavour. Make sure your frying pan isn’t too hot or you’ll burn the miso. I found that medium heat and patience is about all it takes. Some people like to add butter and I’m sure it enhances the flavour but miso is already so tasty that I skipped that part. The same style of yakionigiri is sometimes made with soy sauce but I’ve never tried it!

Have you ever tried yakimiso onigiri? I think they’d turn out even better if they were done on a traditional Japanese shichirin (七輪 earthen charcoal grill) but unfortunately I haven’t one…yet. Last time I did these I sprinkled some shichimi (七味唐辛子 seven spices) with garlic over them at it tasted even better than with the spring onion. If you like yaki-style cooking and miso this will definitely become one of your favourite onigiri. Let me know if you tried it!

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