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Vegan Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Grilled Rice Balls)

Warmer days they are a comin' and what's better to celebrate the Spring than a picnic! These Yaki Onigiri, or Japanese grilled rice balls, are the perfect treats to bring along - convenient to pack, easy to pick up and eat, delicious and nutritious! Of course, they'd also make a killer lunch box.

Onigiri is a traditional Japanese dish, made by forming rice into triangle or round balls, often wrapped with seaweed (nori). For fillings, the traditional options are usually tuna, salmon, pickles, or preserved cherry blossoms but vegan alternatives cannot be easier, I simply used teriyaki tofu and avocado. You can also use cucumber, peanuts, or carrots.

I added quinoa to the rice mixture and brushed the rice balls with a little homemade teriyaki sauce before pan-frying them for extra flavors! If you like sushi you'd definitely like this treat, and I'd also recommend Sushi Sandwiches, which is another fun and convenient option. 


INGREDIENTS:

Rice -

1 cup sushi rice

1/4 cup quinoa

2 cups water

2 tablespoon sushi vinegar or white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice

nori sheets, cut into strips

Teriyaki Sauce -

1/2 cup Tamari/Soy sauce

2 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoon coconut amino

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1/2 tablespoon arrowroot powder or corn starch

Fillings -

1 block extra-firm tofu

2 tablespoon Tamari/Soy sauce

1 tablespoon coconut amino

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Oil for cooking

1 avocado


TO MAKE:

- Rinse the rice and quinoa thoroughly, and if you have a rice cooker use it! If not, transfer cleaned rice, quinoa and water to a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat, let it simmer for 20 minutes till the liquid is completely absorbed, turn off the heat and let it sit for another 5-10 minutes with the cover still on;

- When rice is done, season with vinegar and sugar, set aside;

- Drain and pat dry the tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slices, in a large pan, heat a drizzle of oil, fry till both sides are golden crispy;

- Mix the seasoning for the tofu, pour into the pan, coat the tofu slices evenly and turn off the heat till the liquid gets sticky, let the tofu cool down and chop the slices into small bits;

- Halve the avocado, and finely dice it;

- In an onigiri mold, lay down a layer of rice, add tofu bits and avocado in the center, add on another layer of rice, press down with the lid, de-mold the rice ball, repeat till all rice is used up;

- In a sauce pan, heat all the teriyaki sauce ingredients over low heat, till it bubbles and the consistency gets thick;

- Brush both sides of the rice ball with teriyaki sauce, in a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil, pan fry each side for about 3 minutes till a crispy crust is formed;

- Wrap nori strips onto the rice balls while they're still hot, serve hot or cold, enjoy!

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