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Recipe courtesy of Joshuah Nishi

Deep-Fried Onigirazu

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr (including resting and cooling times)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Onigirazu are rectangular Japanese sandwiches that are made with rice wrapped in seaweed and are traditionally filled with chicken katsu, vegetables or tofu. In this fun take on the dish, they're stuffed mile-high with sushi roll-inspired ingredients like salmon, tuna, creamy avocado, crunchy cucumbers and briny-sweet seaweed salad. After a quick dunk in tempura batter, the onigirazu are dipped in panko and deep fried until perfectly crispy on the outside while retaining the freshness of the ingredients inside.


Sushi Rice:

Deep-Fried Onigirazu:


Special equipment:
a rice cooker, a rice paddle and a hangiri (wooden sushi rice container)
  1. For the sushi rice: Place the dry rice in a medium bowl and fill the bowl about halfway with cool water. Stir gently with your hand for about 30 seconds, then drain the water completely. Repeat, filling the bowl halfway up again with cool water, gently stirring the rice with your hand for about 30 seconds. Drain again.
  2. Combine the rinsed rice and 2/3 cup water in the bowl of your rice cooker. Follow the rice cooker’s manufacturer’s instructions for cooking short-grain white sushi rice.
  3. Stir together the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the sugar dissolves, about 30 seconds.
  4. Once the rice is done cooking, let sit for about 10 minutes. Transfer the freshly cooked hot rice into a large bowl or hangiri (wooden sushi rice container; if using a hangiri, be sure to wet it first and give it a light wipe with a clean kitchen towel to prevent the rice grains from sticking to it). Add the vinegar dressing. Toss to combine, moving the rice paddle diagonally to avoid mashing the grains. Cover with a damp towel and let cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. For the deep fried onigirazu: Place a piece of plastic wrap on a work surface and place a nori sheet on top with the textured side facing up. Place 1/4 cup of the rice in the center of the nori sheet. With damp hands, gently form the rice into a flat diamond shape that is about 4 inches in diameter. Top the rice in this order: 4 slices avocado, 1/4 cup salmon, a flat layer of cucumber slices, 1/4 cup tuna and 2 tablespoons seaweed salad. Place about 1/4 cup rice on top and lightly press to create a flat layer. Cut 1 sheet of nori into four squares, about 4-inches each. Place 1 square on top of the stacked fillings.
  6. To wrap, start by folding the bottom corner of the base nori sheet into the center and hold it in place with your left hand. Use your right thumb to pinch in the right side of the nori, then bring the right corner to the center. Repeat pinching and folding the top and left corners of the nori until the filling is completely encased and is square in shape. Tightly wrap the onigirazu in the plastic wrap underneath.
  7. Repeat with the remaining nori sheets, rice, fillings and nori squares.
  8. Let the onigirazu sit for about 10 minutes.
  9. Put 1/4 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the cornstarch in a shallow medium bowl. To make the tempura batter, use chopsticks to combine the remaining 3/4 cup flour and 3/4 cup cornstarch with the ice water in a second shallow medium bowl. Put the panko in a third shallow medium bowl. Dredge each onigirazu in the flour and cornstarch mixture, then dip in the tempura batter and coat in the panko.
  10. Fill a large wok halfway with the oil. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375 degrees F. Working in batches, lower the onigirazu into the oil and fry until golden and crispy, 1 minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Cut in half and serve with spicy mayo, Japanese mayo and sriracha.