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Onigiri: A Different Kind of Snack

In Japan, a favorite after-school snack is onigiri (pronounced oh-nee-GEAR-ee). With an adult’s help, you can make these rice treats—and even give them fun veggie "faces."

What You’ll Need
  • A bowl of lightly salted water
  • 2 cups of warm, cooked short-grain rice (brown or white)
  • 4 teaspoons of fillings such as canned tuna or salmon, leftover chicken, egg salad, tofu, or peanut butter
  • Vegetables such as carrots, olives, cherry tomatoes, and herbs (ask an adult to cut or slice them into different shapes)
  • Soy sauce
What to Do
  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly, then moisten them with salt water. This keeps the rice from sticking to your hands and also seasons the rice.
  2. Scoop up a handful of rice and make a dent in the middle of the scoop.
  3. Put some filling in the dent.
  4. Close rice over the filling so that you have a rice ball.
  5. Mold the ball into a rough triangle or oval. Be careful not to pack the rice too hard or too loosely. If it’s too hard, the rice will be flattened into a sticky mush. If it is packed too loosely, the onigiri will fall apart when you try to eat it. This is where practice comes in!
  6. Create “faces” on top of your onigiri with cut-up vegetables, such as olive and carrot slices, or sprigs of herbs such as chives or parsley.
  7. Now eat—with your fingers, of course! If you get carried away and make dozens of onigiri, don’t worry. Onigiri will keep very well in your refrigerator, covered in plastic wrap or foil. For an especially tasty treat, try broiling leftover onigiri for a few minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with soy sauce. Yum!

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