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. Freshly baked goods, hot udon, spicy fried chicken, pork buns, endless variations of onigiri, I could go on and on. The American convenience stores just do not compare to the Asian ones.
One of my favorite snacks was egg onigiri. Whenever my friends and I would find them, we would politely argue about who should be able to buy them. 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!
**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 it 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 tbsp 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 1/2 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!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.