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Salmon & Black Sesame Onigiri by


Yields 4 onigiri:

4 ounces thinly-sliced smoked salmon
3 cups cooked short-grain rice, hot
2 tablespoons toasted black sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt or less, if needed
1 sheet toasted nori, cut in 4 strips


1. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Lay the salmon slices in the pan and cook until opaque and lightly browned, 15 to 30 seconds per side. Flake fish with a fork and mix with the rice and sesame seeds. Taste the mixture and add salt if needed.

2. Place a bowl of water nearby and use it moisten your hands frequently while forming the onigiri, so the rice doesn't stick to them. Place one quarter of the rice mixture (about 3/4 cup) in your hands and squeeze together firmly. Rotate and squeeze until it forms a circular cake that holds together securely. Wrap a strip of nori around the middle. Repeat with remaining rice mixture.

3. Serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap to eat later. Most people recommend not refrigerating onigiri because it ruins the texture of the rice, but I find a 30-second warming in the microwave revives a refrigerated onigiri just fine.

* You can use white or brown short-grain rice to make onigiri. (Long-grain rice is not sticky enough.) I use short-grain brown rice, which is a little less sticky than white rice and forms a looser ball.

* You can use leftover cooked salmon in place of the cooked smoked salmon.

* Instead of mixing the salmon into the rice, you can stuff it in the middle of the rice ball: loosely form a ball of rice, press a hollow in the middle, stuff the filling into the hollow, and squeeze the rice to form the onigiri.

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