Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tomato Onigiri - Italian Style

I stumbled across the notion of onigiri looking for different versions of rice cakes. I love risotto cakes, but don't like that they are made with white rice. I decided to make a brown rice version, but using the Japanese form of a molded rice cake.

I was surprised at how well these rice cakes held together given that they were brown rice and contained no food glue (this is how we refer to egg and cheese at our house). I liked the uniformity of using a biscuit cutter so that each rice cake was exactly the same. These rice cakes were more work than a traditional risotto cake, but they took less time overall. This is due to the fact that you use the rice while it is still hot for onigiri, rather than cooling it in the refrigerator for hours, or overnight when making risotto cakes.

When I make these again, I plan to add a few tablespoons of drained capers and remove some of the kosher salt. I was also thinking of putting a little pocket of mushrooms in the center these like I do when I make filled risotto balls.

Cooked tomatoes make regular appearances in my meals due to their reported ability to protect us against cancer. They are also high in vitamin C. It has also been reported than when tomatoes and broccoli are consumed together they have stronger anti cancer properties than when eaten alone. I try to include broccoli in meals where we have tomatoes, when I remember.

The nutritional information on these overstates the fat and calories a little. There was still olive oil in the pan when I was finished, but not enough to measure so that I could rework the numbers.

Tomato Onigiri - Italian Style
makes 12 servings


6 cups of cooked short grain brown rice, still hot
8 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon of dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste (assumed 1/2 T of kosher salt in nutritionals)
2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil to brown onigiri


Mix all ingredients together thoroughly while the rice is still hot. It helps to use gloves so you don't burn your hands.

Heat a pan with a tablespoon of oil to cook the onigiri when the disks have been formed.

Use a 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter and force as much rice into the cutter as you can and press firmly. You want the mixture to be as tight in the cutter as possible. Press the rice mixture out slowly and place it in the pan. Cook over medium heat for 2 –3 minutes, until brown and crispy on one side and then flip it over (gently) and cook on the other side until it is again brown and crispy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 231.17
Calories From Fat (27%) - 62.71

Total Fat - 7.2g
Saturated Fat - 0.79g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 204.27mg
Potassium - 117.38mg
Total Carbohydrates - 42.58g
Fiber - 3.54g
Sugar - 1.54g
Protein - 3.53g


I really liked the uniformity of these rice cakes. I love that they are made with brown rice, and not white rice. The flavor was nice, but next time I will add a tablespoon of two of minced capers and will put a ½ tablespoon of minced sautéed mushroom in the center of the rice patty before browning. Overall I was very pleased with this methodology and plan to make more non-traditional variations of onigiri.


  1. Great crispness and flavor. These are a real winner. They also reheat well the next day for lunch.

  2. Hi Alicia,

    These rice cakes look and sounds so good and I really love this simple recipe. Thanks so much for giving me the link to this wonderful recipe, I really appreciate your kindness:)

  3. Oraphan,

    Thanks! I really enjoyed these, as did my hubby. They were good both hot and cold.

    talk to you soon,


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