The Top 10 Most Popular Onigiri Ingredients in Japan
Made of steamed plain rice, Onigiri is one of the most common comfort foods in Japan, which is typically formed into a triangular or round spherical shape by wet hand, and then entirely or partly wrapped with a dry sheet of “Nori (海苔)” seaweed.
As you may know, not only do Japanese home cooks often make Onigiri for their children’s lunch at school, but most convenience stores in Japan actually stock many variations of the rounded or triangle-shaped rice.
Such Onigiri in the store comes in a wide variety of fillings, and each convenience store chain in Japan in fact develops and sells their own unique flavors of Onigiri.
The Top 10 Most Popular Ingredients for Onigiri
Although those ready made Onigiri are sometimes filled with gorgeous ingredients, there are a number of classic, simple fillings that are still loved by so many Japanese of all generations.
For example, according to the Japanese popularity ranking site “Goo Ranking“, the top 10 Onigiri ingredients that many people in Japan think are the best are as follows, which actually are all classics.
#1. Tuna Mayo (ツナマヨ)
Tuna Mayo, the mixture of canned tuna meat and mayonnaise is the best Onigiri filling chosen by the respondents of this questionnaire survey. According to the Japanese food site “Macaroni“, the golden ratio of canned tuna meat to mayonnaise for Tuna Mayo is 1:1. After draining, absorbing the tuna oil with kitchen paper towel well, mix them up.
#2. Beni Zake (紅鮭)
Beni Zake means red salmon in Japanese. The fish is usually grilled, and then broken into bite size pieces or flakes, which are put on top or in the center of Onigiri.
#3. Umeboshi (梅干し)
Umeboshi are Japanese pickles made of the sour plum called “Ume (梅)”. The Umeboshi plum has been around since over 1000 years ago in Japan and is the most common ingredient for Onigiri.
#4. Shio Musubi (塩むすび)
The simplest Onigiri is called “Shio Musubi (塩むすび)” which is made from only 2 ingredients, hot white rice and a pinch of salt or Shio. For Shio Musubi, the rice is shaped with wet palms over which salt is spread.
#5. Karashi Mentaiko (辛子明太子)
Karashi Mentaiko is known as a specialty of Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, made from the roe of Alaska pollock or walleye pollock marinated in a liquid seasoning containing red chili pepper.
#6. Kombu (昆布)
Kombu is edible seaweed kelp. For Onigiri, the salted kelp product “Shio Kombu (塩昆布)” is commonly prepared in Japan.
#7. Okaka (おかか)
Okaka is a synonym of “Katsuobushi (鰹節)” dried bonito flakes. For rice, Okaka is typically flavored like this.
#8. Sake Harasu (鮭ハラス)
Sake Harasu is the Japanese word for the fatty belly of salmon. Sake Harasu Onigiri is made with the portion in the same way as Beni Zake Onigiri.
#9. Yaki Tarako (焼きタラコ)
Tarako is seasoned cod roe that looks similar to Karashi Mentaiko. Yaki Tarako is grilled one.
#10. Sujiko (筋子)
Sujiko is salted immature salmon roe in the sac. It is similar to Ikura, and both are commonly used in Onigiri.