The other day, my Japanese friend made me some quinoa Onigiri (rice balls with quinoa) and they were divine! Although I heard so much about quinoa, that was my first time to eat it – a super grain packed with lots of nutrients – but I have yet never made it. After I tried it, I couldn’t help thinking about making it myself. So after two weeks, I finally did.
I slightly changed my friend’s recipe. I use brown rice, which gives the rice balls a bit more texture and fried tofu steak instead of Japanese bean curd pouch (Aburaage). You can be creative and use any vegetable of your choice.
According to my friend, you put in Konbu (dried kelp) when cooking the rice and quinoa, which gives the dish another layer of flavor. It is usually used in preparing sushi rice as well. But if it is not available, then simply omit it. It is best to soak the brown rice and quinoa together with the Konbu piece for about 30 minutes in the water called for. Then cook following the recipe.
(make 10-15 balls)
For the rice ball:
- 1 mug brown rice, rinsed and drained
- ½ mug quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2 mugs water
- 5cm piece Konbu-dried kelp, from Asian shop
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce (plus more to taste)
- 1 scant tbsp. sake (optional)
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 50g firm tofu, finely diced (I use fried tofu steak from Organic shop)
- Nori seaweed or Korean salted seaweed (optional)
- Sesame seeds
Put all the ingredients apart from tofu in a medium sauce pan, mix well once and bring to boil (the Konbu should be placed on top of the rice mixture), turn the heat down and covered, simmer until the water has been absorbed, about 25-30 minutes (you need to turn the heat down to very low in the last 5 minutes of cooking, so that the rice mixture won’t scald). Add tofu to the rice in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Removed from heat then let it stand for another 10 minutes with the lid on. Then transfer the rice mixture onto a large bowl to cool completely (check the seasoning now, add more soy sauce if desired).
To make the rice balls: place a cling film over a small bowl or cup; put a heaped tablespoon of rice mixture into the bowl (on the cling film) and lift the cling film up, wrap, twist and shape. Remove the rice ball from the cling film and place it on to a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining rice mixture. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with seaweed.