Onigiri

I’m prone to massive Japanese food cravings at odd hours, and had one for onigiri recently. Onigiri are rice balls,

made from white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed). Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with pickled ume (umeboshi), salted salmon, katsuobushi, kombu, tarako, or any other salty or sour ingredient as a natural preservative. Because of the popularity of onigiri in Japan, most convenience stores stock their onigiri with various fillings and flavors.

By typester from Kamakura, Kanagawa (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When I was in Japan I remember seeing  displays of onigiri, similar to the one above,  in convenience stores. I ate onigiri pretty often as it was cheap and tasty, and our food budget was quite small.

Onigiri

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Ingredients

Sushi rice (may be labeled sushi rice or Calrose rice)
Water (to cook rice)
1 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
Nori
Sesame seeds and/or furikake
Filling options: tuna, salmon, wasabi paste, pickled plums, bonito flakes, kombu (sea kelp), and/or whatever else you think sounds good.

Instructions

  1. Follow the directions on the bag of rice regarding washing and cooking rice. Allow the rice to cool enough so that you can handle it.
  2. Combine cup of water and salt – this will help keep the rice from sticking to your hands.
  3. Dampen your hands in salted water and divide the rice into however many onigiri you’d like to make.
  4. If you want to fill the onigiri, divide each portion into two and create a dimple in the rice. Put your filling of choice in the dimple, and cover with the remaining rice. Mold into whatever shape you’d like – triangles are common.
  5. Wrap the onigiri with nori right before serving so it doesn’t get soggy (believe me – it’s not pretty). You can sprinkle with seasonings now or just before serving.
  6. If making to serve later, wrap tightly in plastic wrap to keep them together, and store in refrigerator.

Check out this great onigiri-making tutorial, complete with pictures.

 

I didn’t have much luck with these – they kind of fell apart on me. But they tasted delicious, and it’s definitely something I will try again in the future.

Source: Inspired by SeriousEats and Allrecipes

 

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Green Tea Pound Cake

I spent two months of the summer of 2008 in Japan, working at English camps for schoolchildren and staying with Japanese families when not at camp or traveling. It was an amazing experience – I met some great people and had the opportunity to learn about and experience Japanese history, culture, and cuisine. One thing that I found interesting and amusing upon my arrival in Japan were the beverage vending machines. Most of them sell bottled Japanese tea – usually green tea. I drank that stuff like crazy when I was in Japan, and still get nostalgic just thinking about it. The pound cake recipe below reminds me of that bottled green tea.

Green Tea Pound Cake

Green Tea Pound Cake

 
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, softened 
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp matcha (green tea) powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 340°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the Earth Balance until creamy. Add the sugar and mix well. Gradually add the eggs and mix well.
  3. In another bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and matcha powder together. Add to the egg mixture.
  4. Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. If edges brown before middle is done, cover edges of loaf with aluminum foil.
  5. The pound cake is very good with a little bit of Greek yogurt – it balances out the sweetness perfectly.

Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Food.com

Quick and Healthy Snacks

I’m always on the lookout for easy-to-make, healthy snacks – Brownie points if they’re cheap and/or portable. I’m also trying to use seasonal produce more often because it tastes better and is often easier to find locally grown. I’ve made both of the snacks detailed below in the past, but looked for ways to improve upon them for this post.

Kale Chips and Roasted Chickpeas

Baked Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt and/or whatever other seasonings you like (see ideas for seasoning here)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Rinse and dry the kale, then remove the stems and the larger, tougher center ribs.
  3. Tear into large pieces, toss with olive oil in a bowl, and sprinkle with seasonings of your choice.
  4. Arrange the kale pieces in a single layer on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until crisp.

Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • Olive oil spray
  • Seasoning of your choice  (I used garlic and herb seasoning)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Rinse the chickpeas in a strainer. Dump them onto  paper towels and roll them dry, removing and discarding any skins that come off.
  3. Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet, and bake. Check chickpeas every ten minutes to make sure they’re not burning, and give them a shake to help ensure more even roasting.
  4. When desired level of browning/crispiness is achieved, remove the chickpeas from the oven and lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.
  5. Put the chickpeas and whatever seasoning you’re going to use in a sealed storage container or plastic bag and shake them around until they’re coated in deliciousness.

Source:  Recipe adapted from  Group Recipes.

Mexican Spiced Chicken Wrap with Eda-mole

Happy Cinco de Mayo! For those not familiar with the historical significance of the day, this brief description from History.com:

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.


For the U.S., I’d add eating Mexican food and drinking anything with tequila in it. Staying true to that tradition, I whipped up a healthy Mexican-inspired wrap for dinner.

Mexican Spiced Chicken Wrap with Eda-mole

Spice Rubbed Chicken 004



 
Ingredients

  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • whole wheat tortillas

Eda-mole 

  • 3/4 cup shelled edamame 
  • 2 large, ripe avocados 
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro 
  • juice of two limes 
  • 2 tbsp water 
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine  the chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper and rub on chicken.
  2. Cook chicken on grill pan over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until cooked through, flipping once.
  3. While chicken is cooking, heat 1 tsp olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute until light brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and let wilt. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. Make the eda-mole: Put edamame, flesh of one avocado, cilantro, lime juice and water in food processor or blender. Pulse until well mixed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the other avocado, mashing slightly. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Heat tortilla in microwave for a few seconds. Slice chicken diagonally and place on tortilla. Top with spinach, tomatoes, and eda-mole. Fold up and enjoy!

Optional: If you want a crispier tortilla you can fry it in a little oil for a few minutes, flipping halfway through.

Source: Recipe adapted from Parade Magazine