This chicken soboro onigiri (鶏そぼろおにぎり) is made with ground chicken cooked in a savory Japanese style sauce and then mixed with sticky white rice. It's easy to make and a delicious meaty twist on a classic lunchbox dish!
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Onigiri (おにぎり) is a popular Japanese dish made with sticky, short grain white rice shaped into a ball or triangle. In English they are often known as "rice balls" and much like sandwiches, they're portable, great for lunchboxes and can be stuffed with a whole variety of tasty fillings.
Onigiri can be found in supermarkets, convenience stores, bento shops and it's extremely common to make it at home too. They're fun to make and easy to customize to your tastes!
I'm sure you've seen them in Japanese TV dramas, films and anime too.
History of Onigiri
Onigiri is probably one of the most ancient foods in Japan and there's evidence to show that they have been around 350BC!
During its long history it's picked up a few different names along the way. Some other words for onigiri are nigiri (にぎり), nigiri-meshi (にぎりめし), omusubi (おむすび) and musubi (むすび). All of these are still used in modern times but I'd say "onigiri" is the most popular and well known word for the dish worldwide.
Popular Onigiri Fillings
As it's very a versatile food, people enjoy putting many kinds of fillings in onigiri rice balls.
The most popular onigiri filling ranking in Japan is:
- Salmon (鮭)
- Seasoned cod roe (辛子明太子)
- Hard cod roe (たらこ)
- Salted plum (梅)
- Seasoned kombu seaweed (昆布)
- Tuna mayo (ツナマヨネーズ)
- Seasoned bonito flakes (おかか)
- Seasoned rice (炊き込みご飯)
- Takana (高菜)
- Fried onigiri (焼きおにぎり)
As you can see, the most common fillings are fish and pickles. However, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a meaty rice ball and chicken soboro onigiri is a great alternative for people who don't like fish and seafood!
Soboro (そぼろ) is the Japanese word for ground meat or fish that has been seasoned and pan fried. It doesn't strictly have to be chicken. Soboro is most commonly served on rice.
I personally cook soboro chicken with the following condiments:
- Soy sauce
- Oyster sauce
If you can't use sake or mirin, it's okay to use substitutes in this recipe. Sake can be switched for dry sherry or white wine and mirin can be substituted with rice wine vinegar and a bit of extra sugar (to counteract the sourness from the vinegar).
Japanese style pan fried chicken mince is very popular for bento boxes and dishes such as Chicken Mince and Egg Donburi (3色丼ぶり)
It's savoury and meaty so it's surely very different to my other onigiri recipes!
If you'd like something different, it's definitely worth a try!
Other meaty onigiri ideas
The beauty of onigiri is the fact that there are no rules! If you want to incorporate other meats into onigiri, why not try some of these recipes and put the leftovers in a rice ball?
What is onigiri?
Onigiri is made with short grain white rice and then formed into a triangle or ball. In English they are called "rice balls". Ingredients are either mixed in with the rice or stuffed in the middle. Onigiri are commonly eaten for lunch and put in bento boxes.
What kind of rice is used for onigiri?
To ensure onigiri keeps its shape, we use Japanese short grain white rice which is a bit sticky (the same kind used for sushi).
Is onigiri the same as sushi?
Sushi is made with rice that has been mixed with vinegar, salt and sugar whereas onigiri is made with simple salted rice. They are also shaped differently so no, onigiri and sushi are not the same.
Can I store onigiri and eat it later?
Onigiri is best eaten the same day. Most people keep it in a lunchbox with an icepack. If you have leftovers, wrap the onigiri in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer (without the nori). You can microwave it to defrost. I don't recommend refrigerating onigiri as it dries out the rice.
Check out our video for How to Make Onigiri Rice Balls At HomePrint
Step by step recipe
Chicken Soboro Onigiri (Japanese Ground Chicken Rice Ball)
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 5-6 rice balls 1x
How to make Chicken Soboro Onigiri (Japanese Ground Chicken Rice Ball). Recipe doesn't include how to cook rice. (See this post to learn how to make Japanese style rice without a rice cooker) Makes 5-6 rice balls.
- 660g Japanese short grain white rice cooked/hot (300g before cooking - check out my post on how to cook Japanese style rice here)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 100g ground chicken mince
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ tbsp mirin
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp sake
- 6 strips of nori dried seaweed
- Heat up a frying pan on a medium high heat.
- Once it's hot, add 1 tsp vegetable oil and 100g of ground chicken.
- Fry the chicken until browned.
- Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, ½ tbsp mirin, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp sake to the pan and fry everything together until the liquid has evaporated.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a large bowl.
- Add the cooked rice to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Divide the rice into 5-6 even portions.
- Wet your hands with cold water and rub a pinch of salt over your palms.
- Take a portion of rice/chicken and start to press it together, pressing the edges to form a triangle shape. See this post for more information on how to shape the perfect rice ball.
- Once your onigiri are shaped, wrap with nori.
- Eat straight away or put in your lunch box with an ice pack. See note for storage options.
If you have leftovers, wrap each individual onigiri in plastic wrap without nori and place them in an airtight container in the freezer. (This prevents freezer burn.) Best eaten within 1 month. Microwave to defrost.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Rice
- Method: Fry
- Cuisine: Japanese
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So so good, I made these for my lunch today and I was not disappointed at all.
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them 🙂