Not Quite Like Onigiri

It doesn’t taste like the real Japanese rice ball–onigiri–I had before. Something is off but I don’t know what it is. My enthusiasm for cooking has waned to the point that I don’t mind it is real onigiri or not as long as it is eatable. I admit it is eatable. How can it not to be eatable? Throw a bit of meat, a bit vegetable, with rice and viola–rice ball is made.

Spending time on food preparing is rather uninteresting. As a self proclaimed sloth, I have to say I am not very interested in chopping, peeling, washing, stirring, boiling etc. I just don’t like to exert myself that much even if the end result is a savory meal that’s nutritious and satisfying.

So I thought onigiri is the kind of cooking that is really not cooking since it looks so easy to do, on youtube video at least. Just throw in cooked rice and a bit of meat into a sheet of seaweed. Anybody can do it. Even a lazy sloth like me can do it.

My love for onigiri comes from my visit to the Mitsuwa Japanese store in Bergen County. It’s 30 to 40 miles away from central Jersey, and the traffic on Garden State Parkway can be tormenting. Still I went there with friends from time to time for its Japanese goods, cosmetics, and especially onigiri. I’ve often thought about making onigiri myself. It looks surprisingly simple and doable, isn’t it?

It turned out it’s easier to view other people doing it than doing it oneself, as the time tested old cliche goes. First the rice cooking is a challenge. How much water to put it? If one does it as one usually does, obviously it is too much since sushi rice–onigiri is a form of sushi–has to be mixed up with liquid sushi seasoning afterwards. The cooked rice turned out soggy in my hand. Cooking is an experiment that when it fails, you can’t just throw the failed result away. No, you can’t since that will be an atrocious act of food wasting. I have to continue the process. I can’t bear the thought of throwing away freshly cooked rice even if I know it is soggy and the onigiri is not going to turn out right. I then press the sushi presser hard on the rice to make it into a triangle shape, add the precooked chicken, egg, fake crab, add another layer of rice, and press even harder. The seaweed sheet turns out not as malleable as I thought and it breaks apart on edges. Still, I managed to wrap the seaweed around my layered triangle. It looks rather flawed but quite appetizing. I can’t wait to take my first bite and it feels like the rice, the seaweed, and the meat are contradicting each other’s flavor in their uncomfortable union. Somehow the seasoning is off–the biggest mistake of all mistakes.

A happy meal despite everything.

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