recipe: onigiri set

bc rice is cuter in balls

Here’s a lil food styling trick I learned in quarantine: an easy way to make rice look cute is by shaping it into balls.

Forever homesick for Taiwan and all the simple aesthetics of Taiwanese cafés and hole-in-wall eateries during this lockdown, I took inspiration from my old travel camera rolls and Instagram feeds. Café de Riz is one of my favorite spots for breakfast and afternoon teas, checking off two boxes with their perfect onigiri sets and coffee aesthetics.

And since I won’t be able to go there anytime soon, I figured the closest thing I’ll get is if I my own version.

Plus, it’s easy to make do with what you have. Which at the time included a medium level of groceries from the store around the corner, and some rice and quinoa mix (which, by the way, is a bad idea for onigiri as I found out the hard way… it doesn’t stick). But hey, it’s quarantine cooking. You do what you gotta do.


  • Onigiri fixins – whatever you’re feeling/have in the house
    • Salmon flakes (baked or grilled salmon) – mix with rice and shape, done.
    • Nori – shape the rice, wrap with a piece of nori, done.
    • Furikake (either top off a rice ball with some, or mix in with rice and then shape)
    • Corn and edamame (mix with some kewpie mayo, salt, pepper and then mix with rice and shape)
    • Spinach (mix with some soy sauce, sesame oil, rice, toasted white sesame seeds and then shape)
  • The sides
    • quick pickled cucumbers (sliced cucumber, toss with smashed garlic and rice vinegar and let sit for at least 20 minutes)
    • soft boiled marinated egg
    • pickled ginger
    • soy-glazed pork or chicken (marinate in soy sauce, mirin, sugar, ginger, and then pan-fry)


  1. Prep the sides. Soft boil your egg. Cook the meat. Pickle the cukes.
  2. Make the onigiri. Mix together the ingredients with the rice and shape with salted hands. I like to use plastic wrap or a sandwich bag to help tighten the shape.
  3. Assemble your plate!