the taste space

Japanese Umeboshi Rice Balls (Onigiri) with Vegan Ponzu Sauce

Posted in Sides by janet @ the taste space on June 15, 2013


I thought life would be less busy after my exam.

Instead, I was immersed back into work and fun at a break-neck pace.

It wasn’t entirely conscious, but I definitely kept myself well distracted as I waited for my results.

I had to ramp up for that big bike ride. (And I so want to give that bike ride a post it deserves)

We saw friends we hadn’t seen since I went into exam hibernation. Rob and I had dates that included musicals and concerts.

On the errands that are still fun, Rob and I mapped out our road trip; booking our accommodations and figuring out which cities have Trader Joe’s (HA!).

The list of things to do for our move never ceases. Book movers and pods, obtain visas, social security numbers. Get a US dollar bank account, flip cash into American funds, change addresses, suspend gym memberships. Make sure we both have benefits. Become officially common-law. Get everything ready to import our car.

Oh, and pack.

Nothing that is too difficult on its own, simply time consuming.

Death by a thousand paper cuts, as Rob puts it.

I haven’t been cooking too much, either. Pulling out freezer meals and eating out a bit more. Cooking up simple grains and tossing with a random assortment of veggies. Discovering fun sauces in the fridge.

This was a fun snack/side I made with some leftover rice. Basically it is a ball of sushi rice, seasoned with rice vinegar and filled with a touch of umeboshi paste, a Japanese spread from pickled plums. I squished the rice into a hard ball with the help of plastic wrap and kept it wrapped until I ate them for lunch. For your viewing pleasure, I played around with strips of nori to make fun faces, although the rest of my balls used wider strips of nori more practically, to keep my hands clean. Use a simple soy dipping sauce, or go all out with a homemade ponzu sauce which has citrus notes to the salty base.

Happy faces, all around, I must say.

I can now add 5 more letters to the end of my name: FRCPC.
(Fellow of The Royal College of Physicians of Canada)

Japanese Umeboshi Rice Balls (Onigiri)

2 cups cooked short-grain Japanese brown rice
1-2 tsp rice vinegar
1-2 tsp umeboshi plum paste
nori sheets
sesame seeds, toasted

ponzu sauce, for dipping

1. Allow rice to cool slightly. Mix in rice vinegar.

2. Place a piece of plastic wrap overtop a cup. Add 1/4 cup rice and make a well in the middle. Add a touch of the umeboshi plum paste (a little goes a long way, I added around 1/4 tsp per onigiri). Add a bit more rice and squish into a ball, twisting the plastic wrap together. You can press it into different shapes if you like. (A good photo tutorial is here). Remove form plastic wrap and cover with strips of nori, decorating as you see fit. Sprinkle and press in toasted sesame seeds.

3. Dip into ponzu sauce and enjoy.

Serves 4 as a side.

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13 Responses

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  1. Amanda said, on June 15, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Yum yum!!! I grew up eating these! Now I have a strange addiction to the umeboshi plums!!!!
    Where do you get the paste from?

    • Amanda said, on June 15, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      do you purchase it from amazon?

    • janet @ the taste space said, on June 16, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      No way! I had never even heard about umeboshi plums until I went to Japan… and even then I didn’t like the plums, itself. I like the paste better because I can use such a small amount. I actually bought mine at Noah’s but I think you could find it at your typical “healthie foodie places” – Big Carrot, Essence of Life, etc.

  2. Joanne said, on June 15, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Gah all of that sounds insane! One of my coworkers is moving to London at breakneck speed also and so I’ve been hearing about all of these changing country woes. Exciting but busy!

  3. Johanna GGG said, on June 15, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    congrats on the letters! They sounds very important!

    Nature abhors a vaccum – I always think things will ease up and then I find I have time for all the silly little things that have been put aside and then it seems busier than ever because there are so many things to do.

    love the face on the onigari – I have umeboshi vinegar – wonder if I could put a bit of that in sushi for some added flavour instead of rice wine vinegar

    • janet @ the taste space said, on June 16, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      Thanks Johanna! Yes, those letters are very important. I can’t practice medicine without them!

      I agree, life is such a vacuum. It is best to make room for what is most important first, and let the rest trickle is as needed. :)

      I definitely think the umboshi vinegar could work and you could stuff the onigiri with anything – avocado, cucumber, etc!

  4. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on June 16, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Wow that’s a lot to do! I don’t know how you are handling it! But congrats on officially becoming common-law, how exciting!

    And these are soooo cute! I love the happy face :) Who said we shouldn’t play with our food?

  5. […] focus this year was to pass my exam (which I did!) and then I quickly ramped up to cycle to Kingston. I cycled another 50 km during the week leading […]

  6. […] I modestly shared the news of passing the.most.important.exam.of.my.life, I figure you guys may be more excited about this news: my photos are in a cookbook! […]

  7. Gena Hamshaw said, on June 22, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Congrats on having the exam behind you, Janet, even if life continues to be hectic!! So proud that you’re moving into the next phase of your life. XO

  8. […] I usually keep it on the low-down, my long-term readers know I am a physician. I am board-certified in my specialty in two countries. This year marks my 14th year of schooling after high school. […]


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