It was 4pm when I finally sat down after 7 hours straight standing and cooking for an event last Saturday. My legs were slightly quivering and I felt a little bit nauseous (I was up at 7.30am and started preparing the ingredients for the event without any breakfast). However my excitement has overcome my physical condition, it was surreal but satisfactory.
It was my very own event, to launch a small catering business – Omsubi – which is specialized in Japanese Onigiri (rice ball formed in triangle shape, filled with a variety of fillings and flavors and wrapped in Nori seaweed), but I used not so traditional, almost fusion recipes to make these special Onigiri in hope of finding a niche in Berlin. The event was a success, at least in my opionion :), everyone seemed to have enjoyed the food and I also got lots of good feedbacks from the guests. I am relieved after weeks of anticipation for this event.
People asked me why Onigiri? The answer is simple, as I always love Japanese food and Onigiri is one of my favorites, that makes it whole lot easier to decide half way to this business idea. The other half is because Onigiri is tasty, easy to eat, great as food on the go and I think this kind of trendy and popular food will always find a space in the Berlin market. Anyway, I am very excited to see where this business leads.
The launching event was not an easy task though, harder than I expected and I meant on the physical side of work as well. But having said that, it was the most amazing experience I have had in my ‘catering’ career. I used to work in catering business in London for years and I had managed events before, I also did a couple of small private catering in Berlin in the past two years. But one where I have to cook for a large amount of customer, spreading over a few hours, it was the first. I was lucky to have my Japanese friend who had also given me inspiration and advices on recipes, to help me cooking at the event. We cooked 7kg of rice and over 150 Onigiri with five different flavors: beef with soy sauce, salted salmon, gomoku (carrot, tofu and shiitake mushroom), Yukari (ground dried Shiso leaves) and Macanese (my own creation inspired by Macanese cuisine, with chorizo, sun-dried tomato and olive). Miso soup with diced celery was also in the menu. On the side, we served cucumber Umesu (plum and apricot vinegar) pickles and raw beetroot pickles with mint I prepared the day before. The selections seemed welcoming and refreshing with which I have received numerous compliments. I was thrilled and the well reception absolutely motivated me to keep on creating more new recipes, will keep you posted.
For the time being, I am posting here one of the recipes which I have written already and stored in my archive, an Onigiri recipe that I really love – Salmon Onigiri – and I throw in a carrot and tuna salad recipe as a side dish to accompany the dish. I found the carrot and tuna salad recipe on a Japanese food blog and I instantly wanted to make it. The interesting combination of ingredients not only provides a nice texture, but also an unusually nice taste. It goes really well with the salmon Onigiri. I am lucky enough to have an Onigiri mold, which you can find in some Asian shops, but of course they can also be formed by hand and with a little practice they can be made fairly quickly.
For the salmon Onigiri:
(makes about 8)
- 280g uncooked sushi rice, wash and drain
- 800ml Water
- 200g organic salmon filets, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sake
- 1 tbsp. mirin
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Nori seaweed (I use Korean salted seaweed in this recipe), optional
- Sesame seeds for garnish
For the carrot and tuna salad:
(serves 3-4 as a side dish)
Recipe adapted from Humblebean blog
- 2 medium carrots, peel and cut into match sticks
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- ½ can of Tuna in oil
- 1 tbsp. white or red wine vinegar
- 1 scant tbsp. Dijon mustard
- A squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tsp. soy sauce
- Cracked black pepper to taste
First we cook the rice, put the rice in a saucepan and pour in the water, bring to boil then turn the heat down, cover with a lid and let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed (or use rice cooker as per instruction). Once cooked, leave the lid on and stand for 10 minutes, then removed the rice to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, mix the soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar and grated ginger, set aside.
In a nonstick pan, heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil, add the salmon to the pan and gently fry and break up into smaller pieces. Continue to fry for 3-4 minutes until they are slightly brown and almost cooked. Pour in the sauce mixture and simmer for 2 minutes. Removed the pan from the heat. Empty the content from the pan to the rice and mix well with a spatula. It is now the time to check the seasoning, add more soy or pepper if needed.
To form the Onigiri by hands: (to prevent the rice stick to your hands, prepare a small bowl of water on the side to wet your hands for each Onigiri). Put about 2 heaped tablespoons of rice mixture to one palm and then cover the rice with your other hand, really gently squeeze/shape the rice into a triangle, use your fingers to help forming the shape. Finally, wrap the seaweed on one side of your Onigiri (see picture), garnish with sesame seeds.
**A little tip: you can also make rice balls instead by putting a small amount of rice in a small bowl lined with cling film, then close the corners and edges of the cling film, twist it and at the same time gently squeeze/shape the rice until the rice forms a ball. Unwrap the cling film, and you have a little rice ball.
To make the salad: heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan, fry onion for a few minutes until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and fry for another minute. Add the carrots and continue to fry until the carrots are soft but still remain a bit of crunch. Remove the vegetable to a medium mixing bowl and cool down a little bit. In another bowl, mix together the ingredients for the dressing, set aside. Add the tuna to the bowl of vegetable and mix well, finally pour in the dressing and combine. Leave the salad in the fridge for at least an hour before serving to let the flavors work nicely together.