Onigiri wa Uchi

Had a nice surprise when I came home, Toni had made onigiri for me. They are the rice balls pictured above and are a giant of Japanese portable food. They also function as a good use of surplus cooked rice and can be made in minutes

The name comes from oni which is a kind of demon, oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi means “demons out, good luck in” which is said once a year as the demons are scared away by tossing dried soy beans. giri means “obligation” as in “giri-choco” which is “obligation chocolate” and given by women to work colleagues on Valentines day. This would mean that oni giri means “demon obligation” but unfortunately it doesn’t. It actually comes from nigiri which means “handful, grasp, clutch” – describing it’s making. Onigiri are more common than norimaki which is nori “seaweed” and maki “roll” and what you usually see as sushi. As for harumaki, haru means Spring and you can work the rest out.

Onigiri were one of my earliest trials in Japan. They were cheap and filling when I was poor and illiterate. Good as they were, the filling ranged from tuna and salmon, to sour pickled plum and fermented/rancid soy beans. As I couldn’t read the packet, I’d just take a lucky dip and hope for the best. Pies were never this hard.

If you’ve got a bit of time go here to onigiri fortune telling. In the first box type your name, then select your blood type, finally your date of birth – year;month;day and then click the button underneath. Then you’ll have to either ponder your inexplicable future or find someone with far better Japanese than me.