Meaty Onigiri Rice Balls

Rice balls wrapped in thinly sliced beef is a favorite with kids and adults alike! Mix watercress into the rice for fragrant, beautifully hued onigiri.

Meaty Onigiri Rice Balls
Photographed by Takeshi Noguchi

Recipe by
Eiko Oba




Rice & Noodles



Calorie count is per serving.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 350 g cooked rice (hot)
  • 8 slices beef (paper-thin slices/lean) (120 g)
  • 50 g watercress
  • [A]

    • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 tsp sake
    • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt



Separate the watercress leaves from the stems. Boil 800 ml of water in a small pot, add 1/2 tsp of salt and parboil the stems for around 30 seconds. Add the leaves, stir and immediately plunge in iced water. Squeeze out excess moisture and mince. Combine and marinate the beef in [A].


Place the rice in a large bowl and mix in the minced watercress. Divide into four equal portions and form into cylindrical shapes. Spread two slices of beef on a cutting board and place one rice ball lengthwise on one slice. Wrap the meat around the ball. Lay the ball seam-side down across the other slice, and wrap. Repeat the process to make three more balls, using two slices of beef per ball.


Place the rice ball lengthwise on the first slice and fold the meat over so that the edges are sealed. Lay the rice ball, seam-side down, across the center of the other slice of meat. Fold the meat over to wrap and seal the edges.


Place the wrapped balls seam-side down in a frying pan. Place over medium heat and fry until brown. Turn over and brown the other side. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally. Cut into easy-to-eat pieces and plate up.


The meat is marinated in sesame oil so there's no need to oil the pan. Brown the meat before turning. Browning firms the meat and seals it to the rice.