The very first time I visited Japan, I spent half the time picking meals and snacks at their 7-11s. I know how that sounds, but once you visit a 7-11 in Tokyo, you will understand. One of my favorite snacks was egg onigiri. What is egg onigiri you ask? Well, my friend, imagine a marinated soft-boiled egg slathered with kewpie, nestled in a bed of rice cooked in a tonkotsu broth and wrapped with a strip of nori. It is HEAVEN. It's been almost one full year since I've had this deliciousness so I decided to give it a try and make them at home. The result? Fresh egg onigiri at my own home!
- 4 cups water
- 1 6x4 inch kombu sheet
- 1 ounce bonito flakes
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon sake
- 2 teaspoon mirin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 garlic clove finely minced
- ½ tablespoon ginger finely minced
- 1 stalk green onion
- 1 3x3 inch kombu
- 1 ounce bonito flakes
- 4 soft boiled eggs
- 1 tablespoon shoyu
- 1 cup rice
- 2 cups dashi
- 1 tablespoon shoyu
- ¼ cup chashu finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoon kewpie Japanese mayo
- 4 ½ inch thick nori strips
- Make the dashi. Add 4 cups water and kombu in a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add bonito flakes and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding kombu and bonito flakes. Set aside.
- Prepare shoyu tare. Combine all of the ingredients for the tare in a medium saucepot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.
- Marinade soft boiled peeled eggs in 1 tablespoon shoyu overnight. Turn eggs halfway through to allow marinade to coat all sides. Cut eggs in half.
- Cook the rice. Add 1 cup rice with 2 cups dashi, 1 tablespoon shoyu, and chashu if using, in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove cover and stir the rice. Let cool slightly before handling.
- Assemble the egg onigiri. Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter and fill the center with rice. Scoop out a small amount of rice in the center, large enough to fit ½ an egg. Lather the center with about 1 teaspoon kewpie and lay the egg half on top. Carefully remove the biscuit cutter, leaving the rice intact. Wrap the onigiri with the thin nori strip. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
- Serve warm.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This onigiri is not any ordinary onigiri. Normally, onigiri is just steamed rice and a simple filling; however, this egg version consists of rice simmered in extra flavorful tonkotsu broth. I will admit, I was too lazy to prepare a batch of tonkotsu broth just for this appetizer. Instead, I cooked the rice in a shoyu seasoned dashi with chunks of pre-made chashu. If you're vegetarian, you can omit the chashu and still end up with delicious rice.
First, make the dashi. Dashi is a staple in Japanese cooking. It is their equivalent to chicken broth and is used in many, many dishes. Luckily, it only takes 15 minutes to prepare! All you need to do is boil konbu (dried seaweed) in a pot of water for 10 minutes. Next, turn off the heat and add bonito flakes. Cover the pot and let the broth sit for another 5 minutes. Strain, cool, and it's all ready to go.
Next, make the shoyu. Even without preparing the tonkotsu broth, this onigiri requires many steps but keep at it because it will be so worth it! This shoyu tare is the same one that I use for my abura soba recipe. Simmer the ingredients for about 5 minutes and strain.
Once the shoyu is cool, add 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of dashi. Cook the rice in the dashi shoyu mix, adding chopped chashu if desired. Cool the rice until it is easy to handle, you want it to still be warm but not piping hot.
For the eggs, you want them to be the perfect 8-minute egg with a creamy texture in the center. My fail-proof method? Put the eggs in cold water in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit for 8 minutes. Drain the hot water and immediately place the eggs in an ice bath. The ice bath will stop the eggs from continuing to cook and help make the peel come off easier.
Now comes the fun part, making the onigiri! It may not be conventional, but I used a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter to help form the onigiri. Fill the biscuit cutter with the prepared rice and make a well in the center. Next, brush on a small amount of kewpie in the center and gently lay half of an egg. Finally, remove the biscuit cutter and wrap the onigiri in a thin strip of nori.
I have to be honest, I did not think these egg onigiri would be as tasty as the ones in Japan but in reality, they were better! The fact that they are freshly prepared makes all the difference. If the onigiri rests for a few minutes after they are formed, the rice sticks better together. My husband and I could not stop "mmming" the whole time we were eating these balls of goodness. Success!
Curious about other Japanese snacks? Check out my other favorite: Japanese pancakes aka dorayaki!
For more Japanese snack inspiration check out these dorayaki!