A cross between an onigiri and a sandwich, this Scrambled Teriyaki Tofu Onigirazu is easy to make and so much fun to eat!
Onigiri are balls of rice stuffed with a savoury filling, shaped into a triangular shape and covered in nori seaweed. They are sold widely in supermarkets, convenience stores and even vending machines in Japan, as well as often being made at home for packed lunches. Onigirazu, which are a fairly recent invention, combine the ingredients traditionally used in onigiri with the shape and practicality of a sandwich!
For onigiri, the rice is often mixed with tiny flakes of seaweed or red shiso (a Japanese herb, also known as perilla). These act as seasoning agents, and really make the whole thing taste so much better! I decided to adhere to this tradition for this Onigirazu, and went for some dried seaweed flakes, sesame seeds and Japanese seven-spice powder (you can substitute with cayenne chilli powder if you don’t have this).
For the filling of these Onigirazu, I went for scrambled teriyaki tofu. I was a little dubious about scrambled tofu at first, but it actually tasted SO much better than any of the other fillings I’ve previously stuffed my onigirazu with.
The secret to making the tofu taste good is to use a soft, silky version rather than a hard, firm one and to drain the water from it really well. You should use a tofu press or leave it in the fridge overnight for the excess water to drain away into a bowl. And make sure you fry it with plenty of seasoning! I did try adding other vegetables, but they released water and the end product ended up a bit too mushy, so the only other thing I’d recommend adding would be sliced spring onions. But I felt the scrambled tofu tasted delicious by itself, mostly because the teriyaki sauce makes it so flavourful. Plus there’s no veggie cravings a little side salad can’t fix.
I hope you love these Onigirazu as much as I do! I can’t get enough of the wonderful combination of the sticky rice seasoned with nutty sesame, umami-rich seaweed and a little spicy kick from the chilli, paired with the perfectly tender, salty-sweet scrambled teriyaki tofu filling.
I decided to use brown rice for these, but you could use white rice and cut down the cooking time considerably.
And now to address the elephant in the room – these Onigirazu may look like a nightmare to make, but trust me, they’re really not that hard. If I can do it, so can you! They’re much easier and less fiddly than onigiri, and you don’t have to wait for the rice to cook either.
If you find yourself confused by my instructions in the recipe below, there are loads of videos online that will definitely give you the confidence to make these at home yourself! Here’s one such video I’d recommend you watch if you’re feeling a little nervous about making these for the first time.
These Onigirazu are absolutely perfect for packed lunches, as they keep well for up to a few hours after being made. I like to serve them with some quick-pickled Chinese cabbage, pickled ginger and other veggies – they pair particularly well with this Broccoli and Edamame with Sesame Dressing.
If you try out this recipe or anything else from my blog, I’d love for you to take a photo and tag it #rhiansrecipes on Instagram! It would really make my day to see what you come up with!
- 2 sheets nori seaweed
- 2 portions brown rice or Japanese sushi rice
- Optional: 1 teaspoon dried seaweed flakes
- Optional: 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- Optional: Pinch Japanese seven-spice powder or cayenne chilli powder, to taste
- 300g (10oz) soft, silky tofu
- 1 tablespoon oil (vegetable or olive)
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
- 3 teaspoons mirin (or sub 2 teaspoons of any other sweetener or sugar)
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Drain excess water away from the tofu - place a small bowl upside down inside a large bowl then place tofu on top of the upturned smaller bowl. Leave in the fridge overnight for the water to drain away. Alternatively use a tofu press and skip this step
- Cook rice according to instructions on the packet
- Meanwhile, heat up the oil in a frying pan and once hot, add all the ingredients for the tofu and use a spatula or spoon to break up the tofu into small pieces
- Fry the tofu for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until it's cooked through
- Once the rice is cooked, add the seaweed flakes and sesame seeds and mix well. Divide the rice into four portions
- Place a sheet of nori over a sheet of cling film
- Place a quarter of the rice in a small square in the middle of the nori sheet
- Place half of the tofu filling over the rice, in the same shape
- Add another quarter of the rice to cover the tofu and wrap the edges of the nori over the whole 'parcel' - the nori should stick to all sides of the rice
- Wrap the cling film around it and let rest for a couple of minutes for it to take shape
- Remove the cling film, transfer to a chopping board and cut in half with a wet knife
- Repeat for the other onigirazu