Tip: Use cookie cutters as onigiri molds
Shaped rice balls (onigiri) add an element of fun to a child’s bento lunch, but it’s limiting to feel that I need to buy a special onigiri mold to make them. You can shape them by hand, but looking through the kitchen drawers my eye settled on cookie cutters to provide a variety of shapes. The twist is lining them with plastic wrap to ensure that the rice ball will unmold neatly without sticking to the cookie cutter. Actual onigiri molds often have textured interiors that help keep the rice from sticking, so using plastic wrap is a low-tech approximation that also helps keep the food sanitary. You can also make onigiri in advance, wrap and freeze them, and microwave to refresh (see my tutorial on freezing onigiri here).
You can mold much more than white rice; Flickr user One More Bento Fan has been really innovative in molding alternative foods. Check out her molded couscous “cheat-a-giri”, steel-cut oatmeal, mixed brown rice, scrambled eggs or black rice. Wow!
Also, I’d like to give a big thanks to reader Corgi for the brand new, snazzy banner for this website. You rock!
|Place the cookie cutter sharp side down on a cutting board, and line with a good-sized piece of plastic wrap. Spoon in warm rice (not long grain) or anything else you’d like to mold (see above).|
|Fold the plastic wrap over the rice, and push the rice down into the crevices of the mold with your fingers. Pay special attention to the edges so that the design will be clear when unmolded. Add more rice as necessary to fill the cookie cutter.|
|Turn it all over and carefully remove the cookie cutter.|
|Unwrap the onigiri, place it in your lunch container, and decorate if you like (with nori, sliced vegetables, meat, cheese, etc.).|
|You can also use plastic wrap to quickly form little round rice balls similar to the scrambled egg purses here.|