You need this recipe for Spicy Tofu Onigiri in your life! Perfectly cooked rice with a tasty tofu filling that is spicy from the gochujang or chili paste, sweet from a hint of maple syrup, ginger-y, and full of garlic. What more could you want! Stick these in your lunch box or for a nice snack. Either way, you're going to want to try this!
What is onigiri?
It's cooked rice that is sometimes but not always stuffed with your choice of filling and typically has a piece of nori wrapped around it.
Onigiri is seasoned with salt and is then formed in to triangles or balls while sushi is seasoned with sugar and vinegar.
My first experience with onigiri was at a Japanese market in NYC, they had a vegan one filled with avocado and it was delicious. It filled me up, made me happy, and I knew I needed to learn how to make them immediately.
What is onigiri filled with?
Onigiri is traditionally filled with umeboshi, salted salmon, katsuobushi(bonito flakes), kombu (seaweed), or tarako (salted cod roe).
What You Will Need For This Spicy Tofu Onigiri
Sometimes people use a toot that helps shape the onigiri but I think it's fine and easy to do with your hands. No special equipment needed to enjoy these!
- Sushi Rice
- Soy Sauce
How To Make The Best Onigiri
Taste and adjust the filling! The filling is the perfect amount of spice for me but add more if desired. Same goes for soy sauce and maple syrup.
Shaping by hand takes some work to get in to perfect triangles but they end up looking very cute so I think it's worth the extra effort!
Learn more about making the best tofu ever in the Ultimate Guide to Cooking Tofu.
Is onigiri sushi?
No, they are similar but not the same! Onigiri is not made with seasoned sushi rice. It's made with plain rice that is salted and shaped in to a triangle. Onigiri is more of a on the go, every day meal whereas sushi is not.
Can this tofu onigiri be served cold?
Yes! It can be wrapped in cling wrap and taken with you on the go or for a quick meal. It can be served cold or room temperature. Yaki onigiri is another variety of ongiri where it is heated on both sides until crispy.
What kind of rice should I use for onigiri? Can I use jasmine?
I've only ever made this with sushi rice because that is what's traditionally used. It is a shorter grain and stickier which helps hold the shape of the triangle.
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Spicy Tofu Onigiri
- 2 cups Sushi Rice
- 2 ½ cups Water
- Salt for forming the onigiri
- 1-2 sheets of Nori
Spicy Tofu Filling:
- 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- ½ Block of Extra Firm Tofu
- Pinch of Salt & Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger
- 1-2 Garlic Cloves
- 2 tablespoon Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoon Water
- 1 tablespoon Gochujang or Chili Paste
- 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
- 2 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar or Rice Vinegar
- ¼ cup Scallions
- Rinse the sushi rice until the water runs clear and then cook according to package directions. I used 2 cups of sushi rice to 2 ½ cups of water in a rice cooker. When rice is done, set aside and let cool.
- Heat vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the tofu and then crumble in to pan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Cook the tofu for about 15 minutes or until tofu starts to brown and get slightly crispy on the edges of the crumbles.
- Mince the ginger and the garlic cloves. Add to the browned tofu and cook for another 2 minutes.
- In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, water, gochujang or chili paste, maple syrup, and vinegar. Whisk well and then add to the cooked tofu. Let cook for a few more minutes until the sauce has absorbed and thickened. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. Once slightly cooled, add ¼ cup scallions.
- The rice should still be warm to the touch but not too hot to handle. Along with the tofu and rice, have a small bowl of water and a small bowl of salt nearby.
- Wet both hands and rub together with 2 pinches of salt. Now, grab ⅓ cup of sushi rice and indent the center of the rice with your fingers. Add about 2 teaspoons of the filling in to the center and form the rice around the filling. Add a small amount of rice to the top to cover the filling. Then, form the onigiri in to a triangle or a ball carefully. Add a small piece of nori to the bottom (see photo). This takes some work to get in to perfect triangles but they look so cute so I think it's worth the extra effort! Continue by wetting both hands, rubbing with salt, and continuing until all the rice and tofu has been used.
- Eat immediately or wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. Enjoy!