Onigiri Rice Balls with Mackerel Tempura

Another name for onigiri is omusubi. If it has a tempura filling, it's called tenmusu. Add some benishoga in the rice for a colorful accent and you'll have a dish that'll wow your guests.

Onigiri Rice Balls with Mackerel Tempura
Photographed by Shin Ebisu

Recipe by
Setsuko Sugimoto



Rice & Noodles




Calorie count is per piece

Ingredients (Pieces 8-10)

  • 1/2 fillet salted mackerel (half filleted) (80 g)
  • Tempura flour mix (store-bought), as needed
  • 400 g cooked rice (hot)
  • 30 g benishoga
  • 8-10 pieces toasted nori (full sheet cut into six equal pieces)
  • 2/3 tsp salt
  • Oil for deep frying



Mince the benishoga and mix with the rice along with 2/3 tsp of salt.


The benishoga keeps the onigiri from tasting oily, despite the tempura.


Use fish bone tweezers to remove any fine bones that may be present in the dark red meat. Cut into 8-10 equal pieces and dust with tempura flour mix.


Combine 40 g of tempura flour mix with 70-80 ml of water to make the batter. Dip the fish into the batter and deep fry in oil heated to 170 degrees Celsius. Remove and drain on a rack.


Mackerel is actually a great fish for tempura. Delicious when crisply fried. Enjoy it with or without the rice.


Divide the rice into 8-10 equal portions. Take one portion and place it on a piece of plastic wrap. Make a well in the center to place one piece of tempura. Gather up the ends of the plastic wrap, twist and squeeze. Shape into a triangular rice ball.


Place the plastic wrap over a dish with a curved edge. You'll find it much easier to gather up the ends when forming the rice ball.


Repeat the process to make the other rice balls. Wrap each one with a piece of nori.