A few months ago, my husband and I went to Rodeo 39 Public Market in Stanton, Ca. Just imagine a big food hall with a ton of different food and beverage vendors. It was foodie heaven! Amongst the matcha lattes from Coffee Dose and mochi donuts that we tried, we made sure to save room for some onigiri (rice balls) from Japanese food vendor, Tenori. We tried their pork belly, salmon and tuna rice balls and we loved the tuna one best.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, I found myself REALLY craving the tuna onigiri but the last thing I wanted to do was drive an hour away to purchase them from Tenori. I told my husband that I'd try making my own. The filling is pretty simple and consists of canned tuna, mayo, soy sauce, and sriracha if you're feeling spicy.
These tuna rice balls can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer or main dish.
Below, are the ingredients you'll want to gather ahead of time.
- White rice
- Canned tuna
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Black sesame seeds (optional)
See recipe card for quantities.
Assembling tuna rice balls
Below, are a few process shots along with step-by-step instructions. Please reach out or comment if anything seems unclear or if you need any help.
In a medium size bowl, combine tuna, soy sauce and mayonnaise.
Add sesame oil and salt to your bowl of cooked rice. Place a piece of plastic wrap over a small bowl and fill with rice. Remove plastic from bowl and twist into a ball.
Next, you'll want to flatten the rice ball a bit. Add about a tbsp's worth of filling to the center of the flattened rice ball.
Gather all edges of the plastic wrap together and twist and form into a ball again. Repeat this process four more times. Optional: roll rice balls in dish filled with black sesame seeds.
Hint: do not smash rice balls down with spatula when pan frying them. Doing so may cause them to crumble and start falling apart.
- Tuna - instead of canned tuna, you can use fresh fish, pork belly, spam, or any other protein of choice
- Pan fry - you can simply eat the rice balls as is if you prefer to skip the pan frying step
Below, are a few variations to consider for yourself or if serving to guests.
Vegetarian - you can swap out tuna for pickled veggies and/or tofu
Kid friendly - skip adding any sriracha to the filling if serving to children (unless they can handle the heat!)
Store these in the refrigerator in an airtight container. These will be good for up to 3 days.
Pan fry the rice balls on medium heat for at least 5 minutes on each side. This will help you get that crispy, outer texture. Try to avoid flipping over back and forth so that rice balls stay intact.
Grilled rice balls with some kind of filling. Some people coat the outside portion of the rice balls with a sauce before grilling or pan frying them. This step is optional.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Tuna Rice Balls
- 2 cups white rice, cooked
- 1 can tuna
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cook your two cups of rice. In a large bowl, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil and ½ teaspoon salt to cooked rice. Combine. In a medium size bowl, combine tuna, soy sauce and mayonnaise.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap over a small bowl and fill with rice. Remove plastic from bowl and twist into a ball. Next, you'll want to flatten the rice ball a bit. Add about a tbsp's worth of filling to the center of the flattened rice ball. Gather all edges of the plastic wrap together and twist and form into a ball again. Repeat this process four more times. Optional: roll rice balls in dish filled with black sesame seeds.
- Set pan to medium heat. Once pan is hot, add in a few tbsps of sesame oil. Add rice balls to pan and sear for at least 5 minutes on each side to get a nice, crispy outer texture. Add a few more minutes if you'd like rice balls to be a bit more golden. Serve over a salad or with your favorite veggies.
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