Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Design--Onigiri Technology

I liked o-nigiri the first time I ate one (I think it was kombu...),although I thought the nori was funny to eat--papery and dry.  It stuck a bit to the roof of my mouth, just the way I imagined paper would (if I were given to eating paper).  It didn't occur to me to wonder, that first time, how it was that the nori was dry and not wet from the moisture in the rice. 

I couldn't read yet, so I think I just randomly picked one off the shelf at the combini (=convenience store).
I thought it was hard to open the package. I couldn't understand why I kept tearing the nori when tearing off the plastic--I was sure I'd seen people eating o-nigiri, just like the ones I was buying, wrapped in neat triangles of smooth nori.  (Nori is "laver" in English, but doesn't everybody just call it nori?)

Then I noticed the numbers on the plastic.  1...2...3...duh.  The plastic was pre-torn around the number one--what would happen if I started tearing at the one?  Watch (Cici is camera-man this time):

When I finally got one of these open the right way, I stood there staring at the layered wrapper in one hand, and the crisp nori around the onigiri in my other hand.... and wondered who on earth had worked out how to wrap onigiri that way.


  1. Last week I visited my daughter in Philly and she treated me some onigiri wrapped that way. Hmmm, hmmm...crispy nori without having to make the onigiri myself!

  2. That's why I like combini o-nigiri--tasty and I didn't have to make it! Which is something I really like about convenience stores here- they're actually convenient. Healthy food can be had (along with the junk food, of course ;-))

    She could get o-nigiri in Philly? Have o-nigiri made it to the US? I'd love to see those spread the way sushi has!

  3. Oh dear, I don't know what o-nigiri are! They look like rice wrapped in dry nori. Is there something else inside?

  4. Onigiri is a rice ball I believe. It was on at least 3 of my tests in Nihongo class.

    So, I have an award for you on my blog!:) If you want to take a look at it go here:


  5. Yup--O-nigiri are rice balls (which you can make ball-shaped, but it's actually easier to make them triangular, which I always do. Because my mother-in-law taught me that way, I expect.)

    Sticky rice squeezed into a shape and wrapped in dry nori, with a variety of things inside! The one in the video is ume (pickled plum--sour), my kids like kombu (a type of seaweed), also salmon flakes I'm thinking of things that I don't know the names of in English. O-kaka, Tarako,--oh, tuna/mayo is common, too. Oddly, that's my least favorite.

    Ezmirelda gets an A!! I have an award? What do I do? I've never gotten one of those before...

  6. My daughter found a convenience store (with lunch counter), called "Maido", that's run by a Japanese family (I met and talked with grandma, three daughters and a granddaughter). It has lots and lots of imported Japanese goodies from "Hello Kitty" bento boxes through oni giri moulds to lychee candy.

    Great fun just wandering around looking at everything!

    We had lunch there...she had curry (which didn't taste like Indian curry *at all*) and I had my first okonomiyaki (yum....tasty and filling!).

  7. Damn Amy. You're making me hungry. Honestly, I've never had one but they look great and I'm always willing to try something new. Pickled plum sour? Laaalgg! Imagine Homer Simpson. And here I am stuck in a town that doesn't even have a good Asian section of the supermarket. I'm going to have to put in some diligent searches for that.

    Tuna... mayo. I gotta eat something. Ah, right now I have a handful of wasabi peas. Mmmm. Better.

    On another note, one has to wonder what genius came up with the wrapping and what she was paid. One of the problems with our highly capitalistic society is that people who invent the coolest little things are often forever unknown and paid a pittance. I hope not anyway.

  8. Martin--wow! You got all kinds of stuff at a conbini! Sounds like a combination conbini/mini-restaurant, maybe. But maybe it'll catch on! Japanese curry (*super* popular--I make it nearly once a week) does not, you're right, taste *anything* like Indian curry. More like curry-flavor stew. Okonomiyaki--*love* My kids love that, too. The first time I had it was on a trip to Nara--it's a Kansai speciality. Loved it from the first bite!

    KK--Hi! o-nigiri *are* good. Two of them plus some apple or mikan and a drink is enough for lunch. Healthy, too, although no one thinks of it as "health food"'s just regular food, which happens to be healthy.
    You can get wasabi peas? Awesome--I love those things!