Portable and healthy, this Japanese-style sandwich, known as Onigirazu makes for a perfect light lunch or picnic dish.
Onigirazu is the culmination of several words – onigiri and nigirazu. Onigiri is a Japanese rice ball made from good quality white rice. Often, a portion of it is wrapped with nori (seaweed) and contains a small filling.
Onigiri comes from the word ‘nigiru’, meaning to grasp or hold tightly with your hands (which is how the rice balls are formed). ‘Razu’ generally makes something negative, so to say ‘nigirazu’ would mean to not mold with your hands. And to finally bring it all together, onigi-razu or o-nigirazu (depending on how you want to look at it) becomes a Japanese rice sandwich wrapped in nori and not molded firmly in your hands. Therefore it’s often easier for first-timers to make.
It’s no wonder this nori-wrapped sandwich has gained such popularity in Japan over the past few years!
- It’s portable, making it great for kid and adult lunches.
- It’s easy to make!
- And you can get really creative with the filling and pile em’ high! Here are some filling ideas:
- Chicken Katsu (fried chicken)
- Tonkatsu (fried pork)
- Ham and Cheese
- Club Sandwich
- Bacon, Egg, and Cheese
- Avocado and Lox
- Egg Salad Sandwich
- 1 sheet of nori
- ½ cup - ¾ cup short grain sushi rice, cooked
- mayonnaise, to taste
- Dijon mustard, to taste
- 2 small leaves of romaine lettuce
- ½ a small carrot, peeled and julienned
- ⅛ of a small English cucumber, thinly sliced
- a few slices of thinly sliced red onion, halved
- ¼ of a large avocado, sliced
- ⅛ of a small red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 slice of a large tomato
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place a square piece of plastic wrap on your work surface and then place the sheet of nori (shiny side down) with a corner pointing up, on top of the plastic wrap.
- Form a thin layer of rice into the shape of a square in the center of the nori sheet, with the flat sides facing up/down and side-to-side (see video). It helps to wet your fingers when your shaping the rice.
- Spread the mayo and mustard on top of the rice and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then pile on the veggies. Spoon some more rice on top of the veggies and form into another square. Tightly, but gently fold up the corners of the nori so that it completely covers the rice. Then fold up two corners of the plastic wrap to cover the nori and hold it in place. Place a piece of julienned carrot perpendicular to the way the ingredients run on top so that you know which direction to slice the onigirazu. Then fold up the last two sides of plastic wrap and set aside for at least 5 minutes and up to overnight.
- When ready to serve, slice the onigirazu along the length of the carrot you placed on the outside, remove the plastic wrap and enjoy.
I tried making these. They are truly delicious. I made them with brown sushi rice. However, as I pulled off the plastic, they fell apart. I would up eating them on a plate. Still tasted good, but what did I do wrong? I never seem able to get the rice to stick together. Thanks for a great recipe!
Hi Carolyn! Thanks so much for the question! Let’s see if I can diagnosis the issue 🙂 How did the onigirazu fall apart? Did the nori wrapper split or did the ingredients just spill out when you cut it open?
If the nori split open, there are a few things I can think of: either it was wrapped or packed too tightly with ingredients. If the nori didn’t split but just came unwrapped, you may need a bit more moisture to get the nori to soften and stick to the rice. If that’s the case, you can simply wet your fingers to lightly moisten the top of rice right before you fold the nori over top to seal.
If however, the nori stayed intact and the ingredients just kind of fell out, then you need to wrap the nori more tightly around the ingredients. Also, using a large, sharp knife will ensure a nice cut without crushing the sandwich. Making sure that your knife is clean helps too, as does wetting it before cutting the onigirazu (this prevents the rice from sticking to the knife).
I hope one of these is a solution to your issue. Please send me another note if you’re still running into problems. Otherwise, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Have a great week, Carolyn 🙂
Helen @ Scrummy Lane says
Oh Kathleen, I absolutely LOVE this! I’ve never seen anything like it, but it’s so pretty… not to mention super healthy. And for me, the icing on the cake is that trick with the piece of carrot. No wonder this is gaining in popularity!
Thanks, Helen! 🙂
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
Oh I love this, Kathleen! So it’s kinda like veggie sushi, but there’s mayo and mustard on it. It seems simpler to make too; no rolling. Just gorgeous and I love how vibrant and colorful it is. Fantastic video too! xo
Thanks, Traci! It is like veggie sushi… with a few condiments 😉 Not only is it easier than rolling sushi, but you can stuff more goodies in there too 🙂
Natasha @ saltandlavender.com says
This looks so pretty and I bet it tastes great!! I love sushi so I see no reason why I wouldn’t love this.
Thanks, Natasha! If you love sushi, you’re going to love these too!
Miriam @londonkitchendiaries says
These Onigirazu look absolutely delicious! Really like the portability of them – I am having my parents in law over on the weekend. We will go on a boat tour with a little picnic after and I think my mother in law would absolutely love them! Thank you for sharing this recipe! The video is great too – just shows you how easy they are to prepare (at least it looks easy when you do it ;-)).
Oh how fun! I hope you guys have a great time! And they’re totally easy – I have no doubt you’ll be a wrapping machine 😉
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Ohhh I loooove onigirazu, Kathleen!! Back in the day I used to beg a fellow line chef to make me them for lunch every day. hahaha. 🙂 It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had one and now I am CRAVING this for lunch! These are gorgeous, girlfriend and I love how packed with veggies you made them! Perfection! Cheers, sweets!
Oh that’s right, didn’t you work at a Japanese restaurant? That would be one awesome lunch… especially when you’ve been cooking all day and you get can someone else to make it for you 😉
Beeta Hashempour says
Oh my…this looks incredible! What a healthy but perfectly filling and tasty lunch! I love this idea. And you made it look so beautiful – you stacked those layers like the true piece of art this sandwich is!
Aw… thanks, Beeta! The nori wrap certainly helps to keep those layers in place 😉
Fida | Sweet and Savoury Pursuits says
First time seeing a nori wrapped sandwich, but I must say I really like the idea, it’s a refreshing change from bread.
Thanks, Fida! It’s good to mix things up from time-to-time 😉
Marissa (@pinchandswirl) says
You are my inspiration for lunches lately, Kathleen. We’ve had a few of your summer rolls in the past couple of weeks and now this! Thank you for the video too – super helpful for the assembly-challenged. 🙂
That’s great, thanks Marissa! I’m such a visual person, things like this just call for a video. Otherwise, if I’m trying a new technique for the first time, who knows what it will end up looking like 😛
I love onigirazu! Especially these veggie ones you’ve created! They are surprisingly filling so packing them full of veggies makes it so much lighter (and healthier too).
You’ve gotta love a dish you can eat and not feel guilty about, right?! 🙂
Forwarded to my daughter-in law-……great for kids lunch box and hubby too….thanks
That’s great, Lyn! Thanks!
Love making my own sushi at home so I’m going to try to make this with some of the rice. The Dijon mustard is an interesting touch too. Great vegetarian option, although I may sneak some grilled salmon in mine 😉
Lol! How did I know you were going to sneak some grilled salmon in there? And what a fabulous idea that is! Have a great weekend my dear.
Dawn @ Girl Heart Food says
What a great lunch! Super portable and love how you can pretty much put whatever inside there and call it a day! I bet the chicken katsu version would be awesome. Great video too 🙂 Have a great weekend, Kathleen!
Thanks, Dawn! Chicken katsu is definitely an awesome combo too! Hope you have a great weekend as well! 🙂
I love Onigirazu! Kathleen 😀 So convenient and easy to make. Love your version with colorful and healthy veggies <3 Will share on my FB page 😀
Thank you my dear. You make some beautiful Onigirazu as well 🙂
KevinIsCooking (@keviniscookin) says
These are so beautiful AND healthy. My, just stunning, really. I can see why they are so popular. It’s so funny, but just in the last few years has Dave gotten me into sushi. I just never liked it, but now LOVE it. So this Onigirazu with the nori looks fantastic. I’m a sucker for anything hand held for snacking, too! Have a great weekend Kathleen!
Well thank goodness for Dave! 🙂 Sometimes you just gotta find the right place – great sushi is hard to beat! I can’t ever pass up uni when I go – Mmm…. tastes like butta’.
Thanks so much for you kind words, Kevin! I hope you’re having a great weekend!
OMG, so fresh and delicious! Awesome video, too! Never had Onigirazu and I’m missing out! Pinning and sharing!